During anyone’s last hours on Earth, they would probably want to spend time with loved ones and reflect on everything that has happened in their life. However, Socrates had different intentions; he instead wanted to spend the little time he had left to philosophize one last time with his friends. The topic of discussion was the soul and Socrates’ goal was to prove to everyone that while our bodies may not be immortal, the soul is.
One of his main explanations is through the use of the argument of contraries. Using this argument, Socrates successfully convinces his peers that the soul must exist outside of the body. Even though he may have received acceptance from those closest to him at the time of his death, Socrates fails to differentiate between the soul and the physical body and to explain the creation of the soul. This then leads one to question the validity and effectiveness of the argument of contraries. Socrates begins his explanation by stating that “all contraries come from their own contrary’ (Phaedra EYE).
He initiates his argument sing examples of some fundamental contraries to make sure that Cubes and Simian have a solid understanding of the main argument being proven. Socrates uses the contrary of bigger and littler, and states that it is a necessity that something must “become bigger later from something that was littler before” (Phaedra EYE). Socrates further illustrates his initial argument utilizing the thought process that the weaker must come from the stronger and the quicker from the slower. Once his peers begin to accept this notion that all contraries come from other contraries,
Socrates moves the discussion to life and death and the idea that the soul lives on. Socrates informs his peers that the contrary to living is death. From there he further explains that the dead must come from the living and, therefore, the living from the dead. It is reasonable then that if the living comes from the dead, then the dead must exist somewhere prior to being alive. After he establishes these points he ends his argument with the idea that since the dead must exist somewhere prior to being alive, the souls of the dead must exist.
To underline his argument Socrates reasons hat this must be true or soon the whole world would be dead because living things would not have any dead thing to come from. In presenting this thought provoking argument, Socrates effectively persuades his peers that his ideology must be true. Throughout the entire explanation Socrates made certain that everyone was following his belief simply by asking if everything made sense and, in response, his peers continuously used comments such as “of course” and “certainly,” showing that they too would agree.
Additionally, no one was able to offer any meaningful rebuttal but instead, each unanimously agreed that this argument must be true. Cubes adds on at the end of the argument that “this goes along Walt ten toner argument Tanat you’re In natal AT oaten making” (Apneas / this comment, Cubes was making a reference to the argument of recollection and was reestablishing that since this argument coheres with another argument that can be agreed upon, then this argument as well must be true.
Although Socrates’ friends and followers may have come to an agreement on this argument, there are a few major flaws that need to be pointed out. Socrates states, “living things-living people too-come to be from the dead” (Phaedra 71 D). In this, Socrates opens himself up to criticism because he does not differentiate between the physical body and the soul. To look at this argument from a description of the soul, the argument that the soul exists before and after the body would seem correct.
However, looking at this argument from the perspective of the physical body, there would be no possible way that this argument could be true. Universally it is known and accepted that living physical bodies do not come from dead physical bodies, but instead are created through the process of conception. A dead body is not implanted onto a womb of a mother so therefore the body would not come from a dead body and this argument would have to be discredited. Also Socrates fails to explain how a soul itself appears.
If everything including a living soul comes from its contrary of a dead soul, then at some point the soul must have come from being dead but Socrates fails to mention how a nonliving soul spontaneously appears and can open himself and this argument up to questioning because of this. Unfortunately Socrates argument has some imperfections which, in effect, have made it non-convincing. The only way that this idea can be proven correct and valuable is if there is further explanation given to the soul and what happens before life in the physical body.
Socrates briefly informs that souls occupy Hades until life of a physical body, but without an explanation of the first creation of the soul, there is much doubt about the validity of this argument (Phaedra 71 D). Also Socrates needs to be able to make a distinction between the perspective of the soul and the physical body. Since these questions have not been answered, this certain argument for the existence of the soul is unreliable at this time. At first glance, the argument of contraries appears to have validity regarding life, death and the soul.
Socrates effectively uses examples of fundamental contraries which help persuade his peers at the time of his death that his argument is logical. After further review and study though, this notion has some unanswered questions about the soul itself and the difference between the soul and the physical body. These inadequacies question the legitimacy of Socrates argument and solidify, at least for now, that this is an unreliable line of reasoning with respect to the immortality of the soul.