External link reading (required for Mid-Term Exam): http://www.faculty.umb.edu/gary_zabel/Phil_100/Plato_files/310585462-Plato-Phaedo.pdf
We will utilize the following questions [borrowed from http://www.woldww.net/classes/General_Philosophy/General-SQ%27s/Plato-Phaedo1.html] to help us study and guide us to important concepts and points in the Phaedo.
Setting of the Phaedo
Socrates has been tried and found guilty and sentenced to be executed. Phaedo, one of Socrates’ best friends, attended Socrates’ trial. On his way home, he come across of group of Pythagoreans. You undoubtedly remember the theorem of Pythagoras, in geometry: a2 + b2 = c2
However, Pythagoras and his followers who lived together in study/living communities, consider many more topics. Among the many topics they considered is the topic of the soul and the transmigration of the soul. The Phaedo is a real dialogue, with each character presenting significant ideas about the nature of the soul, so give serious attention to what each character says, not only Socrates.
The questions below are also relevant for our Mid-Term Exam. Select one question and answer it. Copy the question and the page reference next to it; then answer the question in several sentences, as needed.
- Why did Socrates think that suicide was not an acceptable way of ending one’s life? (62b-c)
- In what sense are philosophers practicing for dying all their lives? (64a-69e)
- Consider the “Argument from Opposites” at 70c-72a. Socrates claims that for any pair of opposites one comes to be from the other. What does he mean by this? What are some of the examples of opposites that he uses to explicate this claim? Are ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ opposites in the same sense as those examples? If not, why not?
- The “Argument from Recollection” runs from 72e-77a. What does Socrates illustrate with the example of the lyre?
- Why does Socrates think that we must have knowledge of “the Equal” (the form of equality) and not just of equal (and unequal) things? (74a-75a)
- What reason does he give for thinking that we must have acquired this knowledge (of ‘the Equal’ and of the other forms) before we were born? (75b-d)
- What other possibility (other than being born with this knowledge) does Socrates present (and then accept)? (75e-76b)
- How does Socrates argue that our knowledge of the forms is not present from birth (and thus that our later knowledge must be recollection of knowledge that precedes birth)? (76b-e)
- What further matter does Cebes raise, and how does Socrates reply? (77b-d)
- How does Socrates argue that the soul, unlike the body, is not the sort of thing that could “dissolve and scatter”? (78b-80c)
- What does Socrates say is the fate of peoples’ souls after they die, and how does this depend on the way they have lived? (80d-82b)
- How do philosophers care for their souls? (82d-83c)
- How are violent pleasures and pains like rivets? (83d)
- What is the point of Simias’ analogy of the soul to harmony and the body to a lyre and its strings? (85e-86d)
- What is the point of Cebes’ story about the weaver and his cloaks? (87a-88b)
- What is Socrates’ explanation of the fact that some people become misologues (haters of reason)? (89d-90d)
- How does Socrates argue that Simmias’ view of the soul as a kind of harmony is inconsistent with the theory that learning is recollection? (91e-92e)
- How does Socrates argue that thinking of the soul as a kind of harmony is inconsistent with several common-sense beliefs about souls? (93a-95a)
- Why was Socrates first delighted and then disappointed with Anaxagoras’ views? (97c-99b)
- What does Socrates think is the “real cause” of his being there (in prison) talking to his friends?
- “It is true then about some of these things that not only the Form itself deserves its name for all time, but there is something else that is not the Form but has its character whenever it exists.” (103e) Can you explain Socrates’ meaning here? (Examples: the number three is necessarily and always odd; fire is hot and cannot become cold.) How does Socrates go on to use this idea to argue for the immortality of the soul? (104e-107a)
Text Task: Does it make any sense to talk of ‘soul’ anymore, given our current understanding of brain function? Use elements of Chapter 4 to support your view.
Text Task: Each day, you wake and find yourself present. Many of you take selfies and deposit them on one or several social medial platforms. Which one of the selfies or photos represents the real you? If you scroll through your digital files of childhood photos or pull out the old photo albums from the back of the closet, you will notice how very much you and others too have changed over time. What makes you the same person at all these different times?
Use elements of Chapter 5 of the Rachels text and your personal experience to support your claim.
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