Plato’s The Human SoulPlato was perhaps one of the most intriguing minds of his time. His works influenced many of today’s great minds. One of his greatest works was his Five Dialogues. The Five Dialogues include: Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Meno; and Phaedo. Of the five books, Phaedo is arguable the most captivating. Phaedo is an account of the ideas of the great philosopher, Socrates. In Phaedo, Socrates discusses many controversial ideas such as philosophical method, death, the true philosopher, and many other ideas as well. Socrates also discusses the nature of the soul in Phaedo. The nature of the soul is one of the main points of Plato’s dialogues. It is also important to understand the soul’s role in acquiring philosophical knowledge. Both of these ideas are discussed in great detail in Phaedo.
Socrates starts describing the nature of the soul by separating it from the body. Socrates explains that in order to truly perceive that which is true we must separate the soul from the body. He states:
?And indeed the soul reasons best when none of these senses troubles it, neither hearing nor sight, nor pain nor pleasure, but when it is most by itself, taking leave of the body and as far as possible having no contact wit it in its search for reality.?
Socrates tells us that the body and the senses only distort the soul’s perception of reality. In order to truly understand reality we must transcend our body and senses. Our senses can mislead us. Socrates claims ?the body confuses the soul and does not allow it to acquire truth and wisdom?. For example: just because what one might see looks like a plant, it might not necessary be a plant. A plant is a living thing. What we see might simply be a plastic replica. In order to acquire true knowledge we must separate our soul from our bodies. Socrates says:
?The body keeps us busy in a thousand different ways because of its need for nurture?It fills us with wants, desires, fears, al sorts of illusions and much nonsense, so that, as it said, in truth and in fact no thought of any kind ever comes to us from the body. Only the body and its desires cause war, civil discord and battles, for all wars are due to the desire to acquire wealth, and it is the body and the care of it, to which we are we are enslaved, which compel us to acquire wealth, and all this makes us too busy to practise philosophy.?
All of this is very true. The body’s needs and desires cause us to make war. Also due to these needs the body is enslaved. Therefore the body’s needs interfere with the soul’s search for true wisdom. This makes perfect sense. Due to our body’s needs and desires we make war. Often times the main reason for war is the desire for money or power. These desires blind us from true wisdom and cause us to misinterpret things. Socrates ideology about the need for the seperation between body and soul is completely valid based on his reasoning. Socrates claims that the soul is immortal. Socrates reasons this by saying:
?We recall in ancient theory that souls arriving there (the underworld) come from here, and then again that they arrive here and are born here from the dead. If that is true, that the living come back from the dead, then surely our souls must exist there, for they could not come back if they did not exist, and this is sufficient proof that these things are so if it truly appears that the living never come from any other source than the dead.?
By this Socrates reasons that the soul is immortal and upon death it transcends the body. After death the soul and body are separated and the soul can achieve true wisdom. The above argument holds true, based on the idea that something can just not be instantly created. Socrates explains that the soul cannot just be formed it must come from somewhere. It must have an origin. Socrates, therefore, claims that the soul never dies, it simply transcends the body after death and then later it becomes