Socrates and his Philosophy
"The aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death." This is a statement made by Socrates in "Phaedo". To some this may seem an absurd statement, as it did to Simmias and Cebes, the men to whom Socrates is speaking. In this essay I will show how Socrates proved his statement to his listeners through a series of defenses. I will present and evaluate these defenses here.
After making this bold statement, Socrates first defends himself by first defining death. He questions his listeners until they all agree that death is nothing more than the separation of the body from the soul. The true philosopher does not worry about or fear this because he is not concerned with matters of the body.
The true philosopher's goal is the attainment of knowledge and truth. They believe that this can only be attained through the soul, and that the body is a major obstacle to this attainment. This is evident in the statement that Socrates makes in line 66b "...... The body keeps us busy in a thousand ways because of its need for nurture. Moreover, if certain diseases befall it, they impede our search for the truth. It fills us with wants, desires, fears, all sorts of illusions and much nonsense, so that, as it is said, in truth and in fact no thought of any kind ever comes to us from the body." Because of this, the true philosopher tries to separate the soul from the body, because that is the only way knowledge and truth can be attained.
Since death is the only way for philosophers to achieve their ultimate goal of separation of soul and body, Socrates says that it would be ridiculous for a man to train himself to live in a state as close to death as possible and then resent it when it comes. He compares this at 68a to men whom at the deaths of their lovers, wives, or sons, who are willing to go to the underworld to see them and be with them. In the same way, a philosopher and true lover of wisdom would not resent going to the only place where he knew he could achieve this knowledge.
In his last statements Socrates discusses men who are brave because they...