Phaedo by Plato Essay examples

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Phaedo by Plato

The opening of Plato's Phaedo finds Socrates constructing a defense of the philosophical life.
When consideration is given to the status of philosophy in Greece at the end of the fifth century
BCE, such a defense seems unnecessary and, at the same time, difficult. This is because ancient Greece provides us with the origins of philosophy, and yet this particular period in history serves as a good demonstration of the public's general distaste for and persecution of it. Several philosophers, including Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Protagoras, were ridiculed and attacked for their beliefs. In spite of these social deterrents, Socrates remained faithful to his life long pursuit, even though it led to his demise.
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Socrates believes that the entire philosophical endeavor is a preparation for death and that the true philosopher looks forward to dying. His students, however, cannot understand why the philosopher should want to die, and Socrates hopes to dispel their fears of death while bringing them to an awareness of a figurative death where desires cease to control the soul . In addition to noticing the figurative nature of death, he also wants them to give further consideration to the literal death as well.
The distinction between these two types of death, figurative and literal, creates two possible avenues for the philosophical life. Socrates defines death as the release of the soul from the body . This definition implies both a view of death as placing distance between the soul and the body during this life and a complete separation at the moment of death. The responsibility of the philosopher is to seek liberation here in this life and, in so doing, to prepare for the afterlife, as preparation for both the literal and figurative deaths coalesce into a single activity.

Liberation here in the visible realm comes from recognizing the hindering function of the body in the soul's search for knowledge. Socrates comments that a soul associated too closely with the body will be
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