September 27, 2012
Philosophy 1001: Human Nature
During anyone’s last hours on Earth, they would probably want to spend time with loved ones and reflect on everything that has happened in their life. However, Socrates had different intentions; he instead wanted to spend the little time he had left to philosophize one last time with his friends. The topic of discussion was the soul and Socrates’ goal was to prove to everyone that while our bodies may not be immortal, the soul is. One of his main explanations is through the use of the argument of contraries. Using this argument, Socrates successfully convinces his peers that the soul must exist outside of the body. Even though he may have received acceptance from those closest to him at the time of his death, Socrates fails to differentiate between the soul and the physical body and to explain the creation of the soul. This then leads one to question the validity and effectiveness of the argument of contraries.
Socrates begins his explanation by stating that “all contraries come from their own contrary” (Phaedo 70E). He initiates his argument using examples of some fundamental contraries to make sure that Cebes and Simmias have a solid understanding of the main argument being proven. Socrates uses the contrary of bigger and littler, and states that it is a necessity that something must “become bigger later from something that was littler before” (Phaedo 70E). Socrates further illustrates his initial argument utilizing the thought process that the weaker must come from the stronger and the quicker from the slower. Once his peers begin to accept this notion that all contraries come from other contraries, Socrates moves the discussion to life and death and the idea that the soul lives on. Socrates informs his peers that the contrary to living is death. From there he further explains that the dead must come from the living and, therefore,