Socrates: on Life, Death and the Afterlife

Topics: Plato, Socrates, Trial of Socrates Pages: 3 (1419 words) Published: December 12, 2012

Socrates’ views of death as represented in “The Trial and Death of Socrates” are irrevocably tied to his beliefs of what makes life significant. For Socrates, life must be examined through constant questioning and one must hold the goodness of life above all else. Consequently, even in the face of the un-good, or unjust in Socrates’ case as represented in his trial, it would not be correct to do wrong, return wrong or do harm in return for harm done. Therefore, no act should be performed with an account for the risk of life or death; it should be performed solely on the basis of whether it is good and right. Throughout the Apology, Crito and Phaedo, Socrates expresses his conceptions of death and the afterlife, which are reflected in his views on what makes life significant. First I will explain Socrates’ views on what makes life significant. Above all, Socrates feels his significance in life is to fulfill his philosophical mission; to search into himself and other men. Socrates believes he was attached to Athens by the god and that in fulfilling his philosophical mission he must do what is right and just by the god. This is his service to the god. He explains in the Apology that there is a voice that speaks to him, a divine sign. “Whenever it speaks it turns me away from something I am about to do, but it never encourages me to do anything.” 31d. His divine sign as he explains, has prevented him from taking part in public affairs and ultimately has lead him to do what is right and just which is the other factor in what makes life significant. As he stated to Crito in 48b, “the most important thing is not life, but the good life.” Socrates believed that “neither to do wrong nor to return a wrong is ever correct, nor is doing harm in return for harm done.” 49d. Therefore, one should live life acting in a way which is good and just. In his defense, Socrates explains, “You are wrong sir, if you think that a man who is any good at all should take into...
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