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Syrianus And Damascius: Two Interpretations Of The Argument From Opposites In Plato’s Phaedo (Phd. 69e–72d)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers how Syrianus and Damascius made sense of the logic that underlies Socrates' first argument for the soul's immortality in the Plato's Phaedo. It begins by drawing out some of the salient issues of interpretation from the relevant stretch of text. The argument takes its starting point from Cebes' objection to Socrates' 'second defence' of the philosopher's way of life. According to Socrates, only the philosopher who has risen above ordinary morality may dwell with the gods, where he will find good rulers and friends. The 'blessed hope' for afterlife felicity that concludes Socrates' defence brings Cebes into action: surely, objects he, argument and proof are required to show that when a man is dead his soul still exists and has 'power and intelligence'. The soul may, after all, perish just like 'a breath or smoke' when it departs from the body, as the many fear.

Keywords: afterlife; Cebes; Damascius; immortality; interpretation; Phaedo; Plato; Socrates; soul; Syrianus



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