Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Plato > The Apology, Phædo and Crito
Plato. (427?–347 B.C.).  The Apology, Phædo and Crito.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Paras. 100–199
Certainly, replied Simmias.  100
  And what is purification but the separation of the soul from the body, as I was saying before; the habit of the soul gathering and collecting herself into herself, out of all the courses of the body; the dwelling in her own place alone, as in another life, so also in this, as far as she can; the release of the soul from the chains of the body?  101
  Very true, he said.  102
  And what is that which is termed death, but this very separation and release of the soul from the body?  103
  To be sure, he said.  104
  And the true philosophers, and they only, study and are eager to release the soul. Is not the separation and release of the soul from the body their especial study?  105
  That is true.  106
  And as I was saying at first, there would be a ridiculous contradiction in men studying to live as nearly as they can in a state of death, and yet repining when death comes.  107
  Certainly.  108
  Then, Simmias, as the true philosophers are ever studying death, to them, of all men, death is the least terrible. Look at the matter in this way: how inconsistent of them to have been always enemies of the body, and wanting to have the soul alone, and when this is granted to them, to be trembling and repining; instead of rejoicing at their departing to that place where, when they arrive, they hope to gain that which in life they loved (and this was wisdom), and at the same time to be rid of the company of their enemy. Many a man has been willing to go to the world below in the hope of seeing there an earthly love, or wife, or son, and conversing with them. And will he who is a true lover of wisdom, and is persuaded in like manner that only in the world below he can worthily enjoy her, still repine at death? Will he not depart with joy? Surely he will, my friend, if he be a true philosopher. For he will have a firm conviction that there only, and nowhere else, he can find wisdom in her purity. And if this be true, he would be very absurd, as I was saying, if he were to fear death.  109
  He would, indeed, replied Simmias.  110
  And when you see a man who is repining at the approach of death, is not his reluctance a sufficient proof that he is not a lover of wisdom, but a lover of the body, and probably at the same time a lover of either money or power, or both?  111
  That is very true, he replied.  112
  There is a virtue, Simmias, which is named courage. Is not that a special attribute of the philosopher?  113
  Certainly.  114
  Again, there is temperance. Is not the calm, and control, and disdain of the passions which even the many call temperance, a quality belonging only to those who despise the body and live in philosophy?  115
  That is not to be denied.  116
  For the courage and temperance of other men, if you will consider them, are really a contradiction.  117
  How is that, Socrates?  118
  Well, he said, you are aware that death is regarded by men in general as a great evil.  119
  That is true, he said.  120
  And do not courageous men endure death because they are afraid of yet greater evils?  121
  That is true.  122
  Then all but the philosophers are courageous only from fear, and because they are afraid; and yet that a man should be courageous from fear, and because he is a coward, is surely a strange thing.  123
  Very true.  124
  And are not the temperate exactly in the same case? They are temperate because they are intemperate—which may seem to be a contradiction, but is nevertheless the sort of thing which happens with this foolish temperance. For there are pleasures which they must have, and are afraid of losing; and therefore they abstain from one class of pleasures because they are overcome by another: and whereas intemperance is defined as “being under the dominion of pleasure,” they overcome only because they are overcome by pleasure. And that is what I mean by saying that they are temperate through intemperance.  125
  That appears to be true.  126
  Yet the exchange of one fear or pleasure or pain for another fear or pleasure or pain, which are measured like coins, the greater with the less, is not the exchange of virtue. O my dear Simmias, is there not one true coin for which all things ought to exchange?—and that is wisdom; and only in exchange for this, and in company with this, is anything truly bought or sold, whether courage or temperance or justice. And is not all true virtue the companion of wisdom, no matter what fears or pleasures or other similar goods or evils may not attend her? But the virtue which is made up of these goods, when they are severed from wisdom and exchanged with one another, is a shadow of virtue only, nor is there any freedom or health or truth in her; but in the true exchange there is a purging away of all these things, and temperance, and justice, and courage, and wisdom herself are a purgation of them. And I conceive that the founders of the mysteries had a real meaning and were not mere triflers when they intimated in a figure long ago that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will live in a slough, but that he who arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the gods. For “many,” as they say in the mysteries, “are the thyrsus bearers, but few are the mystics,”—meaning, as I interpret the words, the true philosophers. In the number of whom I have been seeking, according to my ability, to find a place during my whole life; whether I have sought in a right way or not, and whether I have succeeded or not, I shall truly know in a little while, if God will, when I myself arrive in the other world: that is my belief. And now, Simmias and Cebes, I have answered those who charge me with not grieving or repining at parting from you and my masters in this world; and I am right in not repining, for I believe that I shall find other masters and friends who are as good in the world below. But all men cannot receive this, and I shall be glad if my words have any more success with you than with the judges of Athenians.  127
  Cebes answered: I agree, Socrates, in the greater part of what you say. But in what relates to the soul, men are apt to be incredulous; they fear that when she leaves the body her place may be nowhere, and that on the very day of death she may be destroyed and perish—immediately on her release from the body, issuing forth like smoke or air and vanishing away into nothingness. For if she could only hold together and be herself after she was released from the evils of the body, there would be good reason to hope, Socrates, that what you say is true. But much persuasion and many arguments are required in order to prove that when the man is dead the soul yet exists, and has any force of intelligence.  128
  True, Cebes, said Socrates; and shall I suggest that we talk a little of the probabilities of these things?  129
  I am sure, said Cebes, that I should greatly like to know your opinion about them.  130
  I reckon, said Socrates, that no one who heard me now, not even if he were one of my old enemies, the comic poets, could accuse me of idle talking about matters in which I have no concern. Let us, then, if you please, proceed with the inquiry.  131
  Whether the souls of men after death are or are not in the world below, is a question which may be argued in this manner: The ancient doctrine of which I have been speaking affirms that they go from this into the other world, and return hither, and are born from the dead. Now if this be true, and the living come from the dead, then our souls must be in the other world, for if not, how could they be born again? And this would be conclusive, if there were any real evidence that the living are only born from the dead; but if there is no evidence of this, then other arguments will have to be adduced.  132
  That is very true, replied Cebes.  133
  Then let us consider this question, not in relation to man only, but in relation to animals generally, and to plants, and to everything of which there is generation, and the proof will be easier. Are not all things which have opposites generated out of their opposites? I mean such things as good and evil, just and unjust—and there are innumerable other opposites which are generated out of opposites. And I want to show that this holds universally of all opposites; I mean to say, for example, that anything which becomes greater must become greater after being less.  134
  True.  135
  And that which becomes less must have been once greater and then become less.  136
  Yes.  137
  And the weaker is generated from the stronger, and the swifter from the slower.  138
  Very true.  139
  And the worse is from the better, and the more just is from the more unjust.  140
  Of course.  141
  And is this true of all opposites? and are we convinced that all of them are generated out of opposites?  142
  Yes.  143
  And in this universal opposition of all things, are there not also two intermediate processes which are ever going on, from one to the other, and back again; where there is a greater and a less there is also an intermediate process of increase and diminution, and that which grows is said to wax, and that which decays to wane?  144
  Yes, he said.  145
  And there are many other processes, such as division and composition, cooling and heating, which equally involve a passage into and out of one another. And this holds of all opposites, even though not always expressed in words—they are generated out of one another, and there is a passing or process from one to the other of them?  146
  Very true, he replied.  147
  Well, and is there not an opposite of life, as sleep is the opposite of waking?  148
  True, he said.  149
  And what is that?  150
  Death, he answered.  151
  And these, then, are generated, if they are opposites, the one from the other, and have there their two intermediate processes also?  152
  Of course.  153
  Now, said Socrates, I will analyze one of the two pairs of opposites which I have mentioned to you, and also its intermediate processes, and you shall analyze the other to me. The state of sleep is opposed to the state of waking, and out of sleeping waking is generated, and out of waking, sleeping, and the process of generation is in the one case falling asleep, and in the other waking up. Are you agreed about that?  154
  Quite agreed.  155
  Then suppose that you analyze life and death to me in the same manner. Is not death opposed to life?  156
  Yes.  157
  And they are generated one from the other?  158
  Yes.  159
  What is generated from life?  160
  Death.  161
  And what from death?  162
  I can only say in answer—life.  163
  Then the living, whether things or persons, Cebes, are generated from the dead?  164
  That is clear, he replied.  165
  Then the inference is, that our souls are in the world below?  166
  That is true.  167
  And one of the two processes or generations is visible—for surely the act of dying is visible?  168
  Surely, he said.  169
  And may not the other be inferred as the complement of nature, who is not to be supposed to go on one leg only? And if not, a corresponding process of generation in death must also be assigned to her?  170
  Certainly, he replied.  171
  And what is that process?  172
  Revival.  173
  And revival, if there be such a thing, is the birth of the dead into the world of the living?  174
  Quite true.  175
  Then there is a new way in which we arrive at the inference that the living come from the dead, just as the dead come from the living; and if this is true, then the souls of the dead must be in some place out of which they come again. And this, as I think, has been satisfactorily proved.  176
  Yes, Socrates, he said; all this seems to flow necessarily out of our previous admissions.  177
  And that these admissions are not unfair, Cebes, he said, may be shown, as I think, in this way: If generation were in a straight line only, and there were no compensation or circle in nature, no turn or return into one another, then you know that all things would at last have the same form and pass into the same state, and there would be no more generation of them.  178
  What do you mean? he said.  179
  A simple thing enough, which I will illustrate by the case of sleep, he replied. You know that if there were no compensation of sleeping and waking, the story of the sleeping Endymion would in the end have no meaning, because all other things would be asleep, too, and he would not be thought of. Or if there were composition only, and no division of substances, then the chaos of Anaxagoras would come again. And in like manner, my dear Cebes, if all things which partook of life were to die, and after they were dead remained in the form of death, and did not come to life again, all would at last die, and nothing would be alive—how could this be otherwise? For if the living spring from any others who are not the dead, and they die, must not all things at last be swallowed up in death?  180
  There is no escape from that, Socrates, said Cebes; and I think that what you say is entirely true.  181
  Yes, he said, Cebes, I entirely think so, too; and we are not walking in a vain imagination; but I am confident in the belief that there truly is such a thing as living again, and that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence, and that the good souls have a better portion than the evil.  182
  Cebes added: Your favorite doctrine, Socrates, that knowledge is simply recollection, if true, also necessarily implies a previous time in which we learned that which we now recollect. But this would be impossible unless our soul was in some place before existing in the human form; here, then, is another argument of the soul’s immortality.  183
  But tell me, Cebes, said Simmias, interposing, what proofs are given of this doctrine of recollection? I am not very sure at this moment that I remember them.  184
  One excellent proof, said Cebes, is afforded by questions. If you put a question to a person in a right way, he will give a true answer of himself; but how could he do this unless there were knowledge and right reason already in him? And this is most clearly shown when he is taken to a diagram or to anything of that sort.  185
  But if, said Socrates, you are still incredulous, Simmias, I would ask you whether you may not agree with me when you look at the matter in another way; I mean, if you are still incredulous as to whether knowledge is recollection?  186
  Incredulous, I am not, said Simmias; but I want to have this doctrine of recollection brought to my own recollection, and, from what Cebes has said, I am beginning to recollect and be convinced; but I should still like to hear what more you have to say.  187
  This is what I would say, he replied: We should agree, if I am not mistaken, that what a man recollects he must have known at some previous time.  188
  Very true.  189
  And what is the nature of this recollection? And, in asking this, I mean to ask whether, when a person has already seen or heard or in any way perceived anything, and he knows not only that, but something else of which he has not the same, but another knowledge, we may not fairly say that he recollects that which comes into his mind. Are we agreed about that?  190
  What do you mean?  191
  I mean what I may illustrate by the following instance: The knowledge of a lyre is not the same as the knowledge of a man?  192
  True.  193
  And yet what is the feeling of lovers when they recognize a lyre, or a garment, or anything else which the beloved has been in the habit of using? Do not they, from knowing the lyre, form in the mind’s eye an image of the youth to whom the lyre belongs? And this is recollection: and in the same way any one who sees Simmias may remember Cebes; and there are endless other things of the same nature.  194
  Yes, indeed, there are—endless, replied Simmias.  195
  And this sort of thing, he said, is recollection, and is most commonly a process of recovering that which has been forgotten through time and inattention.  196
  Very true, he said.  197
  Well; and may you not also from seeing the picture of a horse or a lyre remember a man? and from the picture of Simmias, you may be led to remember Cebes?  198
  True.  199

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