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The Affinity Argument In Plato’s Phaedo

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Chapter Summary

The argument from the soul's affinity to the intelligible realm is, with a few notable exceptions, generally considered to be the weakest argument in Plato's Phaedo. It takes its starting-point from Cebes' suggestion that there is a common fear the soul might disperse at the point of death, when it is separated from the body. Cebes' fear is taken up again by Socrates after the recollection argument, with the approval of Simmias who considers as unresolved the question whether the soul will survive death, even if it may pre-exist the body. This chapter is concerned with how the Neoplatonic commentators understand the logic of the argument from affinity and defend it against critics like Strato. It begins with some comments on how earlier Platonists made sense of the argument. It then turns to their detailed interpretations of the relevant section of the Phaedo.

Keywords: affinity; argument; Cebes; neoplatonic; Phaedo; Plato; Simmias; Socrates; soul; Strato

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