Student Number: 1418234
“The Superiority of The Soul”
In Phaedo Plato, famous philosopher Socrates spoke about his theory of the soul during the morning of his execution. Socrates believed that the soul existed prior to one’s birth and that it will still exist after one’s death; this is meant that all philosophers needed to avoid the sensual pleasures of life and focus their minds on their souls. Socrates stated that a true philosopher knows that the soul is superior and enslaves the body. His explanations developed a non-negotiable and versatile argument to view the concepts of death and the soul. Socrates’ was able to use philosophy’s knowledge as a way to escape death. In this essay I will argue that through Socrates’ unique arguments of the soul and death, philosophy can be seen as worthwhile and benefiting to learn.
One of Socrates’ arguments stated that the soul is superior to the body of the human because the soul provides wisdom and guidance for the body. Socrates’ discussed this with his friends Simmias, Cebes, and Crito when they came to visit him on the day of his execution. The friends came with questions surrounding Socrates’ conception of the soul. He started by admitting there was an amount of contradiction in his stand but he argued that there were no evidence or arguments disapproving his explanation either. “The real philosopher has reason to be of good cheer when he is about to die.” He says, “the true votary of philosophy... is always pursuing death and dying.” (cpk 47). This quotation expressed that a true philosopher will not hold any high value for the pleasures of the body, a true philosopher only satisfies the necessary natural needs of the body and nothing more. Also, philosophers should not fear the approach of death or they would not be a lover of wisdom but just a lover of the body. The major concern of life and death was the soul, the soul was superior to the body and was considered the master of the body. The soul can exist on its’ own but the body relied on the soul to function. Socrates explained that wisdom comes from intellect and our senses can trick us from the truth. If the soul is able to pre-exist before the body is created, then it should still exist after the body is gone. He also used this argument to justify why death should not be fear and that the soul truly does exist. True existence comes from the process of thinking and cannot aspire from the senses the body provides. Therefore, he believed that the soul should be seen as superior, while the body should be seen as the slave.
Socrates also argued that the body is just a state of being and has no use, while the soul is the central control system of the human being. He expressed that the body has no wisdom, it only desires biological pleasures but the soul is able to desire wisdom and knowledge. The body experiences the pleasures through the human senses and Socrates said these pleasures were useless and deceiving. “I will tell you," he said. The lovers of knowledge are conscious that the soul was simply fastened and glued to the body” (cpk 62). In this quotation Socrates explains to Cebes that the soul is only attached to the body and even without the body, the soul can still exist; it finds no purpose or use for the body’s functions. Socrates also believed the body was not only useless but also harmful because it mixed the soul with evil. The body creates feelings and senses such as hate, jealousy, ignorance and many more. Socrates claimed those feelings and senses were poisonous to the soul. He said that the senses and feelings that come from our body distracted and deceived us from seeing the truth of life. Only after the body dies can the soul be at its purest state. He believed that true philosophers should recognize the useless of the body. They should not fear death because even when the body dies, they will still have their soul. Death is a good thing because it releases the soul