Socrates’ Account of Death in The Apology and The Phaedo
Death is one of the major issues that are mentioned in Socrates’ dialogues. In The Phaedo Socrates starts from giving the arguments from the opposite (Descartes, 2006, p. 46). He claims that death is the other side of life, and being dead is the result of being alive. The philosopher uses the example of a tall person who can be called tall only because he used to be short.
Though, it is necessary to mention that according to Socrates life and death form a cycle, and the dead return to life after a pause. The philosopher makes a distinction between the mortal body and the immortal soul. Only the invisible and not material soul can overcome death, and then resurrect in another body (Plato, 2007, pp. 17-10). This process is discussed in the philosopher’s argument from affinity (Descartes, 2006, p. 49). The idea of recollection that is mentioned in The Phaedo also supports his claim of the immortal soul. Socrates assumes that the knowledge can not be acquired, it can only be recollected from the previous lives. It shows that the philosopher believed that only the body can die, in the contrary to immortal souls.
The Apology describes the trial during which Socrates was sentenced to death. The philosopher accepted this verdict without fear. He explained his behavior to the jury by the idea that people do not know what might happen after their life path is ended. Only the gods know it, so there is no rational need to be afraid of something that a person does not know (Plato, 2007, pp. 69-72).
Socrates considers death to be the part of the cycle, that is opposite to life. Only the bodies change during this cycle, while souls continue living in the other people with the knowledge from their previous incarnations. The philosopher is not afraid of death, because his soul is immortal, and the afterlife is unknown to people.
Descartes. Discourse on Meditations on First Philosophy: with Selections from Objections and Replies. Trans. Michael Moriarty. Oxford, 2006. Print.
Plato. Six Great Dialogues: Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, The Republic. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Dover Publications, 2007. Print.