Ithaca Free School

Monday, February 21, 2005


12pm: Lucretius.

2pm: Plato

4pm: Euclid.

6pm: Aristotle.



At February 22, 2005 at 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Notes of the Phaedo

Though I have read the Phaedo many times, I have never been as moved by the death of Socrates as much as through this reading. Some random notes (personal and academic).

Meta-dialog concerns:

Motivations for the proof of the immortality of the soul: Does Socrates believe in the validity of this argumentation (which happens to be convincing, I think, only by begging the question)? Is his purpose to convince himself? his companions? both?

Psychology of Plato: Plato portrays Socrates, in every case, as superhuman. His way of coming to terms with the trauma of the death of his philos? Can anyone with the concern of death really not feel angst

Psychology of Socrates: Nihilist or ironist or ironic nihilist? "Crito, we ought to offer a cock to Asclepius. See to it and don't forget." Life is a sickness. The body is a prison preventing the lover from finding his love (sophia). Philosophy is a "practicing of death", a moving away from the "apparent world" for the "real world" of wisdom achieved only through death. Socrates invites death and prescribes it to his friends. Philosophy is a moving away from the corporeal world. But does Socrates really believe in the happiness of the afterlife or is he weary of the world - its pettiness and superficiality. Is Socrates a philosophical pessimist?

Personal concern:

Philosophy or art: "Socrates, practice and cultivate the arts." Is philosophy the greatest of the arts? Is it poiein (making)? If it ever was, can it still be? What does philosophy make? If we are making ourselves as art, are we not merely ironists? Can one be an artist and philosopher (Nietzsche)? Artist need to be engaged with the world to make their art, philosophers need to be reflective. Artists do not understand their own art, only philosophers can (Apology). Have I cultivated my own artistic ability or have a squandered talent? Philosophy is intuitive to me. It supplies meaning, but does it supply satisfaction?

Dialog concerns: The case for immortality of the soul

Argument from reciprocal processes: Reincarnation. Generation/Becoming involves a movement from opposites to opposites. Birth "becomes" death, death must become birth. Death to life to death to life... generation is cyclical. Analogy - the state of sleep to the state of wakefulness - to sleep one must have been awake at some point and vice versa. Problem: there is an assumption that being always underlies a state or mode within which one is in. Socrates is claiming existence underlies the state of 'life' and 'death'. He is begging the question. If 'life' is being and 'death' is not being, it is nonsensical to claim death is a state of being and not being.

Argument from recollection: Knowledge qua knowledge is knowledge of universals (forms/ideas). Sensation can only capture particulars. Recognition of particulars is not possible except through knowledge (i.e. through knowledge of universals). If universals cannot be captured through sensation and we have knowledge (we can recognize particulars as referential to universals in any case) then universals must be accessed prior to experience - "recollection". The 'soul' must therefore have existed before birth. Problem: As is often the case Socrates (Plato) believes he has exhausted all rational explanation. However Kant deals with the exact same problem without resorting to claims concerning the immortality of the soul. Universals can be known prior to experience (and thus recognitions of particulars is possible) because experience is ideal (from a transcendental perspective) i.e. experience is possible only through the subsumption of intuitions (as sensible data in space and time) by the categories of the understanding. Experience is the way that it is, cuz we make it that way. Recollection is not necessary to solve the ancient problem of universals/particulars.

Evidence from the relation of body to soul: The soul belongs to the class of constant/invariable/simple things. The body quite the opposite. If the body does and can last or be preserved after death from length of time can we not conclude that the soul lasts, being simple, without qualification. Problem: begging the question. I find it difficult to be convinced of the immortality of the soul without an argument for the existence of the soul.

"Such, Echecrates, was the end of our comrade, who was, we may fairly say, of all those whom we know in our time, the bravest and also the wisest and most upright man."



Post a Comment

<< Home