Ancient philosophy on Socrates and his beliefs

Subject: Famous Person
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 12
Word count: 3080
Topics: Socrates, Ethics, Freedom, Humanism, Individualism


In what way does the Phaedo represent the completion of the apology and Crito? Discuss the relation to the problem of immortality, death, human freedom, and knowledge

The Phaedo is one of the dialogues of Plato, which acts as a representation of the completion of the apology, and Crito. The discussion is a dramatic art form with a high level of development focusing on death, knowledge, and human freedom. The purpose of all the conversation is to give a revelation on the things that happen in prison during the last day when Socrates was alive. It is imperative to note that Phaedo was one of the close friends of Socrates, was present during that period, and gives an account of all the conversation. The conversation is in Phlius town, and the gathering may have been at a meetinghouse of one of the local Pythagoreans.

Taking into account the conversation, it focuses on the conception of the soul of Socrates. Its primary purpose was to focus on stating the reasons the soul is not immortal with the belief that it has no beginning or an end and therefore partakes on the issue of divinity. Hence, the point of the imitation of God is a reasonable and right standard when it comes to the conduct of all human beings. The argument in the review is a moral issue since it focuses on maintaining the worth and dignity of the soul where it has the sufficient grounds for holding the belief that death to any given man means the issue of entrance into a life that is better and may face good comfort (Gertz, 2011).

The dialogue contains different arguments that support the belief in the aspect of the immortality of the soul. However, none of the conversation should have preference as sufficient in the establishment of the proof on the issue of death and immortality. Instead, all the evidence in this aspect is cumulative in the sense that when it is together, it can constitute a strong case in the establishment of the acceptance of the belief. In most of the cases, Socrates can make an adequate and sufficient reply to some of his opponents of the view on the issue of immortality. The candidates include all those people who have given advocacy on the subject of epiphenomenalism and the concepts of nature with its mechanism.

While reading the dialogue, it is evident of how Socrates shows courage when he faces some imminent death. However, one may be able to criticize Socrates regarding his role as a husband and a father. The mere fact that his wife and son face exclusion on the list visitors at the prison on his last day of life shows the harshness and attitude that Socrates had towards them. However, the wife and the infant son may have spent the previous night with Socrates before the execution. Socrates has a final interview with some of the members of the family, and the dialogue states that it was a lengthy conversation. There is no description of the discussion since Phaedo was not present to give an account since it was a private family affair.

In the case where Socrates states that a real philosopher is the one who holds the belief of dying but holds the idea that it is wrong for one to take their own life, Cebes wants a clear answer on why it is wrong for anyone to commit suicide. Since Socrates knew that Cebes was a Pythagorean, he asks if his teacher had not given him an explanation on why it is wrong to engage in such an action. Cebes provides an answer with but states that he was not able to understand it. The hope of Cebes was that Socrates would take that opportunity to give him a clear explanation. Since it was common especially in the mystery cults, Pythagoreans had an acceptance on the idea that the aspects on the hardship of the lives of humans was because of punishment for all their evil doings in the former life. Socrates does not give an indication that he agrees or disagrees with the teaching and therefore does not find a clear answer for Cebes about the issue of suicide in the doctrines of Pythagorean. However, his view is that humans are not at liberty to destroy their lives or existence since they do not own it but belongs to another being.

It was clear that no person has the right to take the life of a person. Socrates then goes on to explain why a person who loves wisdom or a true philosopher does not hold any form of fear when facing death. He gives an illustration that hope and faith when the philosopher faces imminent death is an example of a perfect harmony with the ethical principles in regards to the regulation of his life. The world may not have any given clue on this issue, but the fact remains that the whole experience of philosophy is a rehearsal on the subject of dying. Since the world does not have a clear understanding of death, they focus on accusing the philosophers on the idea of being morbid, but in this instance, they are wrong. They are wrong since the concept of death is the release of the soul from the body.

The idea is that it is an achievement of the independence of the soul which the same philosopher has had a focus the whole of his life. The philosopher has an accomplishment regarding placing a lesser value on the physical nature of the life and focus on the development of an individual soul. In his given pursuit of the current knowledge, he finds the issue on the demand of the body to be the hindrance and therefore tries as much as possible to avoid those problems. Thus, his primary focus is on thinking rather than the experience through senses, which glorifies the body since in the state of thinking; it makes the soul to be independent of the body. The human passion and wants are the primary cause of competition in business and war, which leaves little thinking to the idea of the pursuit of knowledge. Due to this fact, a person who is in love with experience knows that the desires of the heart will either have its achievements after their death or not have it at all.

With the issue regarding the aspects on the distinction between the point of evil and good souls, Socrates has recognition of the freedom of choice as being given individually to every person. Any given souls that yields to the issue of the desires and appetite of the body by focusing on placing all the higher value on the material possessions and pleasures than it has on the ethical and wise conduct are an evil one. Additionally, the souls that resist any form of the temptation of material value strive and focuses on the perfection of the behavior and the mind have a designation as the good ones.

Since Socrates holds the belief in the justice of God, he has the confidence that there may be a different fate for both the evil and good souls. Just how will there be an accomplishment since he is not sure, but the issues and doctrines on the aspect of reincarnation in the teachings of all the mysteries of the religion offer a given solution on things that may take place. Here, all the evil souls will have a reincarnation in the bodies of different insects and animals and with the idea of the possibility of entering on a form of life that is different. Additionally, the right souls will have a treatment in the entire manner that has the proportionate to the degree of goodness together with a final goal of an eternal dwelling with the gods.

In conclusion, all the events that have a relation towards the end of the dialogue have a particular significance when it comes to the revelation of the real character of Socrates when facing imminent death. His general concern for the primary welfare of his infant son and wife, his request that the small debt he had to be paid to a given individual and his courage on what awaits him beyond the aspect of death were an essential revelation of his character. Additionally, his kind of attitude towards the entire attendant in prison during the administration, and above all his courage in the acceptance of the fate of death, are a clear indication of his goodness and the freedom of his soul. The mechanism and the concepts of life and the workings of the world reveals a man who was in pursuit of knowledge as opposed to holding high beliefs on the feelings and senses of the body. The process of Socrates becoming free of his thoughts on the human body means he has had an achievement of divinity. The final tribute by Phaedo well deserves.

In what way are Socrates views on justice, truth, and freedom as developed in the apology and Crito reflected in the Phaedo?

The Socrates views of justice truth and freedom as developed in the apology is one of the most authentic accounts by Plato where he defects himself before the council. It has an essential harmony when it comes to the trial period that occurs in other different dialogs of Plato and about the separate account in the Xenophon’s Memorabilia. In these instances, it gives the situation and records the words of Socrates while focusing on making his speech in the defense. It is imperative to note that Plato had been a student of Socrates where he admired his skills. In that aspect, one may have a conclusion that the version of the trial by Plato may have had the bias in favor of Socrates where he saw him as a hero.

The content of the dialog during the defense starts with the introductory statement by Socrates. The report follows a clear account of some of the specific accusations about the daily activities and the life of Socrates. He later gives replies on the different charges against him. After finishing making his defense, he gets an account of the attempts of the mitigation and the penalty against him. In the final statement, Socrates prophetically rebukes the judge after the pronouncement of the sentence.

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The dialogue in the account starts with Socrates making a short moving speech where he focuses on creating an apology for the style he that he will use for his defense. His accusers in the account give a warning to the judge not to be deceived by the current eloquence by the defendant since he had the effect of convincing him that he was innocent. However, Socrates states that he has no claim on the aspect of being eloquent in his speech. Through this view, Socrates seems to insist that he is not a rhetorician and in that point seems to suggest that they should be ashamed that he could lead everyone astray in his quest for justice through his eloquence. Socrates view on his rhetoric is that which he will use to set forth the language of truth to make the judge and everyone in attendance to understand it. Socrates seems to suggest that his eloquence in the quest for the truth and justice is different with the one under the suggestion by the accusers who have given a warning to the judge. Socrates seems to hold a conviction that he will only speak the truth and that the justice and the judge should exclusively focus on exercising fairness to both parties.

While making his defense, Socrates replies to two different accusations. The reference to the first allegation is an ancient or an earlier indictment while the second accusation has a consideration as a contemporary charge by Anytus, Meletus, and others who are at the trial. It is imperative to note that the first and older accusation is dreadful because it has many accusers and in many instances cannot call by name all the accusers. In every aspect of the account, most of them are not in the proceedings and therefore he cannot reply to what they say against them.

In the aspects of justice and the truth, Socrates view on the accusations is that they are all falsehood where he points out that they have given him a bad reputation to different people (Woods & Pack, 2012). In one of the examples, he provides an account with that Aristophanes in the throne of the comedy plays called the Clouds. The comedy gives reference to Socrates as a man who includes falsehood claim that he can walk on air and other false allegations that he claims to be nonsense when considering all the elements that fit the truth. Although there may be some possibility that Aristophanes did not have any intentions to have these statements as severe, they have given a contribution to strengthening the unfavorable opinion about Socrates, which complicates his quest to seek the truth and justice.

Another factor that is contributing to the weakening perception about him in the court is the rumors on his investigations on things that are above the heaven and those that are beneath the earth. It is imperative to note that these allegations also have a basis on falsehood since he had no interest in anything concerning the physical science and no account on claims that he has the wisdom on the same matter. However, this idea does not mean that he had quarrels with some of the physical scientists. He gives recognition to the legitimacy of the things they are doing, but his focus is on the issues that focus on the moral conduct and the problems of the welfare of any soul of a person.

After making his defense against all the first class of the accusers, Socrates continues to give a reply on some of the specific charges against his personality. First, Meletus had given an account that Socrates is a person who does evil where he focuses on corrupting the youth, does not believe in gods of the state, and has his focus on the introduction of new divinities. In the defense against these charges, Socrates asks the accuser to answer some of the allegations. In the quest for justice, Socrates is skillful while asking some of the questions to Meletus since he manages to make the accuser contradict himself and making accusations that are absurd in the eyes of everyone.

The statement of the accuser seems to give suggestions that Socrates is the only person in Athens who is corrupting the youth. At the same time, Socrates gives an admission that no one can intentionally make someone worse unless they have an obligation to living with them. Due to his line of questioning and defense against the accuser, it is clear that Socrates is not making the youth worse or he is intentionally doing the same. It is evident that Socrates is not guilty of that crime and therefore does not deserve to have a punishment. Here, Meletus does not seem to understand the nature of all the charges that he levels against Socrates and thus does not have a logical consequence in all of his statements.

Socrates during his defense asks Meletus to give an example or an account how he is corrupting the youth. He asks him whether he is teaching them to focus on not acknowledging the gods of the state and consider other spiritual agencies. He continues to question whether he is an atheist and therefore he does not believe in any form of god. In his reply, Meletus replies that Socrates is an atheist and thus does not believe in any gods. Socrates then manages to remind Meletus that he was not the one who taught about the gods of the moon and the sun. During the trial, it is clear that Meletus has a poor opinion of the judges since he holds the view that they will not be able to notice all of his mistakes during the trial. Additionally, Socrates points out that Meletus is contradicting himself where he accuses Socrates of being responsible of introducing strange define while at the same time he claims that he is an atheist and therefore does not believe any form of a god.

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After giving a reply to the charges by Meletus, Socrates continues to the matter that has relevance to the trial. One of the essential questions has been on whether it may be proper for him to remain in the way of his living, which has the effect of causing him a premature death. It is critical to note that not anyone in this state should consider whether what he is doing is right or wrong. During his time as a soldier, he did not desert his post especially when facing the danger of death. He would focus on choosing to die instead of a disgrace since it was better to die in honorably. In his explanation before, his style or manner of living is about the philosophy of God, which requires men to search themselves. Therefore, any effort of disobeying this command according to him would be one of the most disgraceful things to do.

In conclusion, it is imperative to note that Socrates knows the fact that an accused person in a court of law may have the possibility of influencing the judges if they use sympathy as an influence. However, Socrates decides not to focus on this tactics since he feels that this kind of conduct is a discredit to both the state and his personality. Socrates holds the view that there is something wrong with an act of petitioning the judges and therefore procures an acquittal instead of focusing on convincing them that he is innocent. The apology is a remarkable speech that gives an illustration of the profound conviction of Socrates where he prefers to suffer injustice than to practice the same prejudice. Here, one can learn that one should not fear what happens to their body but what happens to their souls. Injustice may seem to have had the victory, but in the long run, the truth prevails.

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  1. Gertz, S. R. (2011). Death and Immortality in Late Neoplatonism: Studies on the Ancient Commentaries on Plato’s Phaedo (2nd ed.). Leiden: BRILL.
  2. Woods, C., & Pack, R. (2012). Socrates of Athens: Euthyphro, Socrates’ Defense, Crito and the Death Scene from Phaedo. SSRN Electronic Journal, 3(1). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1023142
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