Immortality of the Soul

Socrates tells Glaucon about the importance of struggling to be good rather than bad, as well as the rewards of justice and virtue in time. Socrates first discusses how the soul has come to be immortal and indestructible.

Good and evil exist in everything. The good preserves and benefits a thing while evil destroys it. If evil fails to destroy a thing, then that thing is naturally incapable of being destroyed (p. 1213), because no other thing, certainly not the good, would or could cause its destruction.

The badness or evil in one thing cannot destroy another thing. For example, what destroys the body is not the badness of food, but the bodys own peculiar evil, like disease. Bad food can only destroy the body if the evilbadness attaches itself to the bodys own evilbadness. In the same way, any badnessevil of the body cannot destroy the soul, for the souls own evils, such as injustice, is seen as incapable of destroying it, that is, of corrupting it until it separates from the body. And it is unreasonable to think that another things evil can destroy something else, if that something elses own evil is incapable of destroying it.

Since the soul is incapable of being destroyed, whether by its own evil or by others, it is immortal.
There must be the same souls, because, being immortal, they cannot be destroyed. Nor can they be increased, as the immortal can only come from the mortal and if souls can be increased, it will mean that all mortal things pass on to immortality, which is not the case.

Anything immortal can hold itself up only if it is finely composed. To see the soul in all its beauty, in its pure state, it must not be seen through its association with evil things, like the body. Otherwise, it will be like seeing not the real self of the god Glaucus, but his maimed and crushed body as it emerges from the sea with shells and weeds and stones attached to it.

The soul must be seen through reason, through which justice and injustice can also be seen more clearly. Through philosophy, or the souls love of wisdom, one can discover the souls true nature. The soul grasps and desires wisdom, which is akin to the divine and immortal and what always is (p. 1215). By following the soul in its desire, one is able to see it above the evils within which it is immersed on this earth.

Judgment of the Dead
Socrates and Glaucon discuss how the gods take care of people who are just, and how the just receive all the right rewards while the unjust people suffer and become wretched. Socrates then illustrates what awaits just and unjust people after death, which he describes as incomparable to what they receive while alive.

Socrates tells the story of Er, a warrior who comes back from the dead to tell what he was made to witness by the gods in the afterlife. Er narrates that in the afterlife, erring souls were penalized to suffer ten times for each individual they have wronged, while souls who have done good were rewarded with the same scale. Along with other souls, Er travelled to a place where light hung from the heavens and carried a structure of revolving whorls that were being controlled by the spindle of Necessity. Necessitys daughters, namely, Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, sat on their thrones and sang of the past, present, and future.

The souls were directed to go to Lachesis, whose message to them was read by a Speaker. The message said that instead of being given a daemon or guardian spirit, each soul will choose his own. Hence, the responsibility of practicing virtue will lie on the soul, not on the gods. The Speaker threw the lots among the souls and laid down a number of model lives of all sorts, from the most virtuous to the most pathetic. Each soul was to choose his life according to his lot. Humans were fortunate because, having lived on earth, they knew from experience which virtues work well with which assets or liabilities. This fortune was demonstrated by the choices of the souls of Greek heroes and historical figures. The first to choose picked to live a life of tyranny and regretted it at once. He was one of those who have come down from heaven and, untrained in philosophy, did not know what suffering was.

After the souls have chosen their lives, each of Necessitys daughters assigned a daemon to a soul confirmed the fate of each and made these fates irreversible. Then the souls passed under the throne of Necessity into the Plain of Forgetfulness, drank from the River of Unheeding, and fell asleep. At midnight there was a thunder and an earthquake and the souls were sent to their births. Er was forbidden to drink from the water, but the next thing he knew he was back in his body, lying on the pyre.

Socrates reminds Glaucon that the soul is immortal and strong against every evil and every good. By being just and reasonable in every way, humans become friends with both gods and themselves, reap their rewards, and become happy, here or in the afterlife.

Lysias Speech
Lysias speech on love is read by Phaedrus to Socrates. Lysias argues that it is better to give your favors to someone who does not love you than to someone who does (p. 508).

The speech claims that a man who is not in love does favors for someone voluntarily, and, as in duty, in the best way he can. On the other hand, when his love dies down, a man who is in love, who has also been keeping tab of the advantages and disadvantages he derives from loving, will regret doing the things he did for his loved one.

Lysias also characterizes a lover to be unreliable whatever affection he showers upon his present love, he can easily give his new beloved. A lovers insecurity and jealousy can also oppress and isolate a boy from other people. Meanwhile, a non-lover will want nothing more but for the boy to spend time with as many people as possible, for this will also reflect on his own amiability as a companion.

Lysias thinks that falling into the misery of love is not worth it. Love compels one to make decisions which appear to be irrational when the love has died. A lover, afraid of being disliked, will say only half-truths, and not what is truly beneficial to the beloved. A non-lover has his wits about him, and will easily give the advice that one needs.

It is easier to pick persons who are deserving of ones friendship among those who do not love or care about one for the simple reason that they are more numerous than those who might be in love with him. And because a non-lover is a friend first before a seeker of bodily pleasures, one can expect his presence to be more constant than that of a lover, who knows and desires ones body first before his character.

A lover also seeks glory for all his efforts, and flaunts his success. A non-lover finds it unnecessary to pursue any popular reputation that can be derived from an affair. In addition, a lover is much more exposed to public scrutiny judgment, and malice. The public is less harsh and more reasonable when judging two people who are together, but do not share any love between them.

Lysias claims that it is better to give ones favors not to those who need them, but to those who are best able to return them (p. 513). Lovers only ravish ones youth and goods while these are plentiful and leave when there is no more.

Phaedrus thinks that Lysias has wisely articulated everything that needs to be said on the matter, while Socrates thinks Lysias does not grasp the subject very well and seems to be just showing off how well he can express the same idea in more than one way. Phaedrus challenges Socrates to contest Lysias speech with the presupposition that the lover is less sane than the non-lover (p. 515). Socrates complies only after Phaedrus threatens the latter that he will no longer read speeches to him if Socrates does not deliver his.

Socrates First Speech
Socrates calls on the Muses as he tells the story of a beautiful boy who has many lovers, one of whom, perhaps to dissuade the boy from entertaining other lovers, invites him to discuss whether a boy should be friends with someone who loves him or with someone who does not. The older man discusses how lover and non-lover alike are ruled by the two principles of 1) pursuing reason and 2) pursuing pleasure. Love, or eros, is the desire to take pleasure in the beauty of human bodies.

To turn the beloved into whatever is pleasing to the lover, he will keep the former in a position that is inferior to his, and will therefore prevent him from taking part in philosophy. The lover will also want a boy who is physically weaker, or unmanly as well as a boy who is deprived of family, friends, and wealth. All this will make the boy physically, socially, and intellectually dependent on the lover, and will thus make him easier to manipulate, or to derive pleasure from.

But an older man in love is simply disgusting and miserable to be with, being jealous and ugly. And besides, a young boy will always prefer the company of other youths. In order to keep his power, the lover will replace his mad love with reason. He will refuse to keep his promises to the boy, which he will claim to be invalid since they were made with a muddled mind. The boy will become confused and angry, and will realize that he should have instead given his favors to a man who is not in love with him and who has his wits about him, instead of a man who proves to be harmful to both his body and soul. The older man concludes his talk by saying that no good arises from a boys offer of friendship to a lover.

Phaedrus urges Socrates to discuss also the virtues of a non-lover, and to explain why it is better for a boy to give his favors to one. But Socrates simply says that the non-lover possesses every advantage that the lover lacks.

However, Socrates later confesses that Lysias speech, as well as the one that he just delivered, are horrible and give him an uneasy feeling. He exposes the offense of these speeches against the god Love, son of Aphrodite. The offense lies in the shameless parading of falsehoods against a supposedly divine and good thing. And so Socrates offers a Palinode to Love, and declares that the speech he just delivered is not true. He proposes to deliver a more tasteful speech (p. 522), and advises Lysias to point out the virtues of giving favors to a lover instead of a non-lover. He looks for the boy to whom the first speech was delivered, asking him to listen to his new speech. Phaedrus says that the boy is there, listening.

Socrates Second Speech
Socrates says that it is a shame to refuse giving favors to a lover because he is mad, for madness is not purely and simply bad. In fact, it is a gift from the gods, and from it man derives the best things, such as the priestesses and prophets. Language also shows how madness was not originally regarded to be bad or shameful. Madness shepherds people into the world of mysticism, ritual, purification, and poetry. From all this, Socrates presupposes that madness is given by the gods to benefit a lover and his boy.

Socrates reminds Phaedrus of their discussion of the immortal soul. He likens the soul to a team of winged horses and their charioteer. Every soul looks after all that have no soul. A soul that flies high in the universe is likened to a winged horse while a soul that sheds its wings wanders until it takes on a solid body and becomes a living thing, and mortal. Wings take things to high heavens and the divine a souls wings are shed after foulness and ugliness make it shrink and disappear.

Gods and immortal souls in heaven view the outside of heaven with pure knowledge, and see the truth. Charioteers that fail to keep up with them lead their souls outside of heaven and are caught in the midst of other souls, all fighting to get ahead of the others. Here, reality can only be barely grasped in the turbulence, a soul can see some truths and miss others. Here, a souls wings can weaken and be trampled upon.

A soul that loses its wings falls to the earth. There it will take on the body of a living thing, depending on what it has seen. A soul that has seen much may take the body of a man who has a propensity for philosophy and eros while a soul that has not seen a lot may take the body of a worker, a politician, a tyrant.

Among men, a philosopher is closest to the divine. He is, in fact, possessed by god. Earthly beauty reminds him of the true beauty that he has already seen and makes him want to take flight. His failure to do so makes him forlorn and appear mad to others. He also becomes confused because he cannot grasp what he has just seen and what he is reminded of. When he loves beautiful boys, he is called a lover.

Earthly beauty awakens desire and the wings of the soul. It also engenders sensational pain, later to be replaced by joy. Separated from the boy, pain comes to the lover upon remembering the boys beauty, however, joy returns to him. Pain and anguish make the lover seem mad, and he knows that only beauty or the boy can take the pain away. Such is love.

A lover chooses his boy among the beautiful and turns him into the likeness of the god he worships, honors, and is devoted to. As a human being he shares in the gods life through the boyby gazing at him, he is reminded of the god, with whom the lover is in touch by memory.

Pursuing a boy is like handling two horsesone of which is self-controlled, the other of which is aggressive and impassioned. Time and fate will draw the boy and man close together, for good cannot fail to be friends with good (p. 532). The boy will fall in love with the lover, and both will experience bliss and, if they pursue philosophy, will have their wings grow back when they die. On the other hand, a non-lovers companionship is selfish, cheap, and human mindless, it never gives the soul any chance to grow its wings back.

Socrates Third Speech
Socrates and Phaedrus discuss what distinguishes a good speech from one that is badly written or delivered. Socrates asks whether an orator must know the truth of the subject he is about to discuss if he is to discuss it nobly and well. Phaedrus replies that it is the crowd that determines whether a subject is just or not the orator must know how to persuade the crowd, and not necessarily the truth.

Socrates asks what if an orator who does not know good from bad delivers a speech that he knows the crowd will favor, but which in the end persuades them to do something bad than good Phaedrus replies that such speech will be considered of bad quality. But Socrates considers the argument that the truth will be useless if it is not delivered by a skilled orator and besides, there is no genuine art of speaking without a grasp of truth (p. 537).

Socrates contends that an orator will never be able to deliver a good speech on any subject unless he pursues philosophy. For rhetorical art is directing the soul through speech. In lawcourts and the Assembly, a speaker convinces the crowd of the justness, for example, of a thing by presenting it as the opposite of an unjust thing.

It is easy for a speaker to deceive and to avoid deception if he knows how things are similar with or different from one another, for this will guide him in holding unto a certain principle or arguing against its opposite. It will be difficult for a speaker to lead the audience through the similarities and differences of things if he himself does not know these. Also, deception will be easy when discussing subjects where people tend to go in different directions or opinions, as in abstract ideas like justice or good.

Socrates illustrates his argument by analyzing where Lysias speech falls artless. Socrates comments that Lysias speech is not structured competently the parts seem to have been thrown together randomly. He then demonstrates the proper way of structuring speeches by using his own speech on madness and love. First, scattered things are collected into one kind in order to define the subject that one wishes to discuss. Then, these things are further subdivided according to their similarities, so that, in Socrates speech, all things that pertained to madness were defined as one kind. The issue of madness was then divided into a left and right part, where the left part focused on the earthly characteristics of madness while the right part revealed its divine nature. Socrates calls this method dialectic.

Socrates and Phaedrus then review the structure of the conventional speech as practiced by the great orators. Socrates finds the structure to be threadbare, for it only necessitatesand expressespreliminary knowledge about something, and not knowledge about the thing itself. Using the structure of the conventional speech, a speaker can persuade his audience that he knows about medicine even if he himself does not practice medicine.

Rhetoric, then, can be practiced well when it is supplemented by knowledge and practice of the subject. It requires knowing or understanding the nature of the soul, which consequentially requires knowing or understanding the nature of the world. When one teaches another person about the art of rhetoric, he will necessarily teach his student about the soul, first by describing it, then by explaining how it acts and how it is acted upon, and third by classifying which speeches affect or touch which kinds of soul. According to Socrates, a speaker who has mastered and who has been practicing all these that he teaches about rhetoric and writing is a truly good one.


Post a Comment