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Platon Oeuvres Completes, Vol. 4: 3e Partie; Phedre

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Excerpt from Platon OEuvres Compl'tes, Vol. 4: 3e Partie; Ph'dre Ne suffit-11 pas, tenant compte de l'allu s1on qu1 y est fade au rle de Phedre dans la sc'ne du Banquet, de duc que Platon a voulu qu'on la suppost poster1eure celle 01 Or celle - 01 se place vra1semhlablement en 416 Mens, pour asmgner l'autre la date pr'c1se de 410 2, on manque de base Lys1as, d1t Excerpt from Platon OEuvres Compl'tes, Vol. 4: 3e Partie; Ph'dre Ne suffit-11 pas, tenant compte de l'allu s1on qu1 y est fade au rle de Phedre dans la sc'ne du Banquet, de duc que Platon a voulu qu'on la suppost poster1eure celle 01 Or celle - 01 se place vra1semhlablement en 416 Mens, pour asmgner l'autre la date pr'c1se de 410 2, on manque de base Lys1as, d1t - on, sera1t revenu d ltal1e a Athenes en 412, 11 y aura1t fa1t b1entt figure d homme de lettres et 1l en aura1t donne une preuve en composant un Erotzcos Or nen de tout cela, on le verra b1entt (p 1111 sqq n'est assur' En quo1 cela serv1ra1t - 1l d a1lleurs dater la sceneil La seule chose qu'1l y a1t sans doute d1re, c'est que dans le Phedre Il n'est pas du tout queshon, comme dans d autres. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.


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Excerpt from Platon OEuvres Compl'tes, Vol. 4: 3e Partie; Ph'dre Ne suffit-11 pas, tenant compte de l'allu s1on qu1 y est fade au rle de Phedre dans la sc'ne du Banquet, de duc que Platon a voulu qu'on la suppost poster1eure celle 01 Or celle - 01 se place vra1semhlablement en 416 Mens, pour asmgner l'autre la date pr'c1se de 410 2, on manque de base Lys1as, d1t Excerpt from Platon OEuvres Compl'tes, Vol. 4: 3e Partie; Ph'dre Ne suffit-11 pas, tenant compte de l'allu s1on qu1 y est fade au rle de Phedre dans la sc'ne du Banquet, de duc que Platon a voulu qu'on la suppost poster1eure celle 01 Or celle - 01 se place vra1semhlablement en 416 Mens, pour asmgner l'autre la date pr'c1se de 410 2, on manque de base Lys1as, d1t - on, sera1t revenu d ltal1e a Athenes en 412, 11 y aura1t fa1t b1entt figure d homme de lettres et 1l en aura1t donne une preuve en composant un Erotzcos Or nen de tout cela, on le verra b1entt (p 1111 sqq n'est assur' En quo1 cela serv1ra1t - 1l d a1lleurs dater la sceneil La seule chose qu'1l y a1t sans doute d1re, c'est que dans le Phedre Il n'est pas du tout queshon, comme dans d autres. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.

30 review for Platon Oeuvres Completes, Vol. 4: 3e Partie; Phedre

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” ~ Plato THE SCHOOL OF LOVE Phaedrus is commonly paired on the one hand with Gorgias and on the other with Symposium - with all three combining and leading towards Republic. It is compared with Gorgias in sharing its principal theme, the nature and limitations of rhetoric, and with Symposium in being devoted to the nature and value of erotic love. The co “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” ~ Plato THE SCHOOL OF LOVE Phaedrus is commonly paired on the one hand with Gorgias and on the other with Symposium - with all three combining and leading towards Republic. It is compared with Gorgias in sharing its principal theme, the nature and limitations of rhetoric, and with Symposium in being devoted to the nature and value of erotic love. The connection with Republic is more tenuous, though it contributes to the criticism of the arts of Rhetoric. Also, the psychology illustrated here by the image of the charioteer and the two horses is fully compatible with the tripartite psychology of Republic and even clarifies an important ambiguity in it. The Setting Socrates and Phaedrus walks out from Athens along the river Ilisus. The conversation that takes place between Phaedrus and Socrates is both interrupted and motivated by three speeches - one by Lysias, and then two extemporized by Socrates himself in response, inspired to employ his knowledge of philosophy in crafting two speeches on the subject of erotic love, to show how paltry is the best effort on the same subject of the best orator in Athens, Lysias, who knows no philosophy. The Three Speeches The First Speech: The first speech (purportedly by Lysias), is a shallow, badly constructed piece–a ‘clever’ piece of sophistry designed to establish the implausible thesis that the pursued (loved) should gratify someone who is not feeling love ("non-lover") rather than a true erastēs (lover). The Second Speech: Not surprisingly, since in this speech Socrates undertakes to improve on the form at least as much as the content of Lysias’ speech, there is considerable overlap of theme. Ethically, however, Socrates appears to have more genuine concern for the good of the ‘loved’ than Lysias did. But most interestingly, Socrates takes the dichotomy of Lysias’ speech - of Non-Lover Vs Lover - and inverts the whole argument by subsuming both categories into Lust. It is left unsaid till the Third Speech, but Socrates has now effectively made the argument into Lust Vs Love (Non-Lover also included into Lust). Ever heard of the expression “Platonic Love”? It is far more interesting than its popular meaning! “These are the points you should bear in mind, my boy. You should know that the friendship of a lover arises without any good will at all. No, like food, its purpose is to sate hunger. ‘Do wolves love lambs? That’s how lovers befriend the loved!’” The Third Speech (The Palinode): Lysias’ speech had argued that a lover is to be avoided in favor of a non-lover, and in Socrates’ first speech he seeks merely to improve upon this thesis of Lysias, but in the second he entirely repudiates the content of the first, and he calls this second speech a recantation, or palinode. The straight-forward opposition of pleasure and the good in the Second Speech, though reminiscent of early dialogues such as Gorgias, is thus undermined in the palinode, where we see that the impulse towards pleasure is an essential part of a person’s motivation, and that if his/her rational part is in control, this impulse can be channelled towards the good. The Palinode thus gives a less one-sided view of love - a view in which love and reason can go hand in hand, in which love is not entirely selfish but can be associated with educational and moral values, and in which, at the same time, passion and desire find their proper place. In order fully to praise love, Plato felt that he had to explain its place in the metaphysical life of a human being - through a myth, as usual. The overall movement of the central part of the palinode is that it begins with a vision of the soul’s purpose and ends with an analysis of the human condition of love. The suggestion is that we won’t understand human experience unless it is put into a much larger context, and that the experience of love is essential for a human being to fulfill his/her highest potential. After these three speeches, the conversation turns to the value of rhetoric in general, and what could be done to make it a true branch of expertise or knowledge. On Rhetoric: An Aside A dialogue earlier than Phaedrus, Gorgias, is devoted to rhetoric and to the contrast between the rival ways of life philosophy and rhetoric promote. In Phaedrus, the question of the value of rhetoric is raised immediately after the palinode, and signals an abrupt change of direction for the dialogue: as to what constitutes good and bad rhetoric, and Socrates suggests that knowledge of truth is the criterion: persuasion without knowledge is denigrated: without a grasp of truth, rhetoric will remain ‘an unsystematic knack’. Now, this too is a reference to Gorgias, where rhetoric was defined in just these terms. Plato does not really seem have changed his mind about it since Gorgias. There are two main overt topics in the dialogue––rhetoric and love. Rhetoric is meant to persuade, and a lover will try to persuade his/her beloved to gratify their desires (the Greek word for ‘persuade’ also means ‘seduce’). The lover’s search for the right kind of beloved to persuade is a specific case of the general principle that the true rhetorician must choose a suitable kind of soul with the help of dialectical insight. The lovers are said to try to persuade their beloveds to follow a divine pattern - this is the highest educational aspect of love. Thus the dialogue is about love and rhetoric, as it seems to be, but they are connected because both are forms of "soul-leading" - both are educational. So for this reviewer, the question of which to focus on - of Rhetoric or Love - is redundant. A focus on either should serve the purpose, and the focus for the rest of this review will be on Love. Rhetoric got its space in the Gorgias review. Love: The Guiding Light of Philosophers The first two speeches raise the question whether or not love is a good thing, and the rest of the dialogue answers the question in the affirmative. Love is good because it enables one to draw near to another person whose soul is of the same type as one’s own, but is capable of becoming more perfectly so. This educational potential will be fulfilled provided the pair channel their energies into mutual education; this is the proper context of the praise lavished on the combination of philosophy and love. Platonic Love: A Clarification Before we go further, we need to address the standard criticism on “Platonic Love”: that it is about non-sexual love. More importantly, the even more educated criticism has to be addressed: that it is about Homoerotic love. For this, we need to take a look at the Athenian society of the time: First, the Athenians rarely married for love: a wife was for bearing children, while slave-girls were used for extra sex. Love, then, was more likely to be met outside marriage––and it might be a younger man who aroused it. And this goes not just for love, but even for the shared interests that underpin love: the educational potential of a love-affair, always one of the main things that interested Plato, was unlikely to be fulfilled in one’s marriage, since an Athenian male had few shared interests with his wife and would not expect her to be interested in education. Second, with women being seen more or less entirely as sex-objects, Plato clearly felt that it was all too easy to get caught by the physical side of a heterosexual relationship. However, since Athenian society did place a slight stigma on the sexual side of a homoerotic relationship, a lover might well hesitate before consummating the relationship in this way––and such hesitation, vividly portrayed in Phaedrus, meant that there was at least the opportunity for the sexual energy to be channelled towards higher, spiritual or educational purposes. Moreover, the older man was expected to cultivate the boy’s mind – to be an intellectual companion. It was, in effect, a form of education. Greek education was pitiful: restricted to upper-class boys, and taught no more than the three Rs, sport, Homer and the lyric poets, and the ability to play a musical instrument. In a peculiar way, the Athenian institution of homoerotic affairs filled a gap by providing a boy with a more realistic grasp of local culture and worldly wisdom. Thus, we can see why homoeroticism is the context - only because it was normal then and not because it was regarded as worthy of special attention against a standard of heterosexuality as ‘normal’. Transposed on to present society, we can see that the whole enterprise should logically apply now to ‘normal’ or heterosexual relations as well - and is quite in character for the modern times - some would even say that it is the ideal! Thus, glossing over homoeroticism as a relic of the Athenian society, we need to read instead from our own society’s standpoint. Hence, in this review you will find that the ‘love’ spoken of is directed not at a ‘boy’ as in the Platonic dialogue/society but at the ‘loved’ (as substituted by the reviewer), without discrimination. This is also the most useful (and logical) POV for this reviewer to adopt to understand the dialogue best. Also, please assume the he/she or his/her connotation if the reviewer has omitted it at places. The Myth: Love as The Window to the Universe It is often said that Symposium, Republic and Phaedrus should be read together. This is particularly true when it comes to the interconnected Myths that populate these three dialogues. Poetic and inspiring myths portray the soul’s vision of reality and love in The Symposium as well as in Phaedrus: In his myth in The Symposium, Plato has Aristophanes present the famous story about soul mates: The myth in Phaedrus, altering this, is a description of the entire cycle of what can happen to a soul: we hear of the tripartite nature of souls and how it is essential to a winged soul to rise up attempt to see the plain of truth which lies beyond. In the Myth, we are incarnated as humans if the attempt was not fully successful, doomed for thousands of years. A philosophically-inclined-lover, however, can use his/her memory of Forms, to regrow their wings and ascend again. This Memory is triggered by the glimpse of Beauty in his/her beloved - if his love of truth is enough to leave him with a lingering dissatisfaction with every day life. Beauty alone has this privilege, to be the most clearly visible and the most loved - and thus the trigger for the Quest for meaning. Love & Memory: Mutual Assistants Readers and admirers of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance would find this section particularly identifiable. Love as remembrance should also find ready acceptance among Proust readers. In fact, the image of the loved triggering a vision of beauty that unlocks the memory of life’s true purpose is just about as Proustian as it gets. ‘Loved’ then need not be a person at all - it just needs to be a store of memory, personally beautiful enough to trigger the vision of the ‘beyond’ of everyday life, but this is a digression. In the palinode, love and memory are critically connected: love is our reaction to the half-remembered Form of Beauty (and of Truth). The starting-point is the perception of beauty on earth, and the consequent recollection of Beauty seen before. The beloved’s face acts, as it were, as a window on to the Form. In short, love prompts recollection, recollection is the precondition for knowledge, and knowledge is the precondition for the right handling of words. In this way, all the major themes of the dialogue tie together. The Chariot of Life: The Rider & The Horses The Soul is divided in three at the beginning of the Myth - two parts in the form of horses and the third in that of a charioteer. One of the horses is good, the other not; one white, noble and the aide of Reason, the other unruly, Black and crazed with desire. The difference between the two is that the bad horse’s reasoning is limited to short-term goals (just as Lysias’ non-lover was too), whereas the charioteer aims for and considers the overall goodness of a person’s life as a whole. This is, in fact, very reminiscent of The Bhagavad Gita with the Senses as the Horses and Reason as the Charioteer. Philosophy, Love & Lust - An Inventory of Usefulness Plato chose the term erōs from the range of possibilities because of its frankly passionate connotations. In Phaedrus he gives an astonishing analysis of what, in his view, is really happening beneath the surface of a love-affair, and focuses particularly on its ecstatic aspects - the ability of love to get us to transcend our normal bounds. Notice, then, how far removed this conception of love is from what we generally understand by the phrase ‘platonic love’, which is defined by my dictionary as ‘love between soul and soul, without sensual desire’. On the contrary, ‘sensual desire’ has to be present, because it is the energizing force. The Two Horses symbolize Love and Lust, in a fashion: The Black Horse/Lust/Sensual Desire is crucial to the process: It is the one that gets us close enough to the beloved/soulmate in the first place! Thus, the non-intellectual elements of the soul were necessary sources of motivational energy and that the passions, and the actions inspired by them, are intrinsically valuable components of the best human life. The intensity of the experience of philosophical love, as Plato sees it, is precisely the intensity of the simultaneous presence in the lover of passion. To return to the course of the myth, we are told in the second part about the development of a human love-affair. The nature of the love-affair depends entirely, we hear, on how removed the philosopher-partner is from the world (how ascetic he is, in a sense): if he is fully mired in his body, all he will want is sex with the beautiful beloved who arouses his love, but if he is a philosopher the vision of worldly beauty will remind him of heavenly Beauty, and his soul will grow wings and aspire to return to the region beyond heaven where he first caught sight of true Beauty. But Plato stresses that the philosophic lover will not want this just for himself: being attracted to someone like himself––that is, to a potential philosopher––he wants to bring out this potential in his partner. Thus, not only does the philosophical lover educate his partner, but he also educates himself: he ascends the ladder only by pulling someone else up on to the rung he has vacated. The educational aspect of philosophy is here properly fulfilled. The implication is that the kind of lover you are on earth depends, to a large extent, on how philosophic you are, how receptive you are to the vision of Beauty. It depends entirely on you if Love opens the window to Philosophy. The Academy of Life: Love Erōs is the Greek word for ‘passionate love’, and in the context of relations between human beings it means primarily ‘sexual desire’, or even ‘lust’. Because erōs in this sense invariably has a sharply delineated object - it is not just a vacuous feeling of warmth or affection - it suits Plato’s purposes, since his major enquiry is to ask what the true object of love is. Is it no more than it appears to be, or is it something deeper? In Symposium he answers that love is a universal force that energizes and motivates us in whatever we do, because its object is something we perceive as good for ourselves. Its object, self-evidently (at least, for Plato and his fellow Greeks), is beauty. The ultimate, deepest aim of Love, Plato says, is immortality - self-procreation in a beautiful environment. The highest manifestation of this is not the physical procreation of offspring, but the perpetuation of ideas in an educational environment in which the lover takes on the education of the beloved. This is the position taken for granted in Phaedrus. There is also a more prosaic and non-mythical way to approach the message in Phaedrus: As Plato makes plain elsewhere, when he says that someone desires something, he means that he lacks something. So when he says that love is lack, we also need to see what it is that a lover’s soul lacks, and it turns out to be the perfection of itself as a human soul - knowledge or self-knowledge. Someone in love has an inkling of his own imperfection, and is impelled to try to remedy the defect. Though couched in terms of his own metaphysics and psychology, Plato’s description of passionate love will strike an immediate chord with any lover. Love can make philosophers of any of us. Love is important because beauty* is the most accessible Form here on earth and is the primary object of love. * Note that it is always a very personal conception of ‘Beauty’ being referred to - which only the beloved can see - the whole ‘eye of the beholder thing’, if you please. Everyone chooses their love after their own fashion from among those who are beautiful to them, and then treats the loved like his/her very own god, building him/her up and adorning him/her as an image to honor and worship. Hence, Love is the best school possible - a place of mutual, continuous, most interested, interesting and truly involved education that one can ever find. There is nowhere else that you can learn more about the human condition. Enroll in the school of love if you would be philosophers, if you would know the meaning of life. Know Thyself, through Love. “You may believe this or not as you like. But, seriously, the cause of love is as I have said, and this is how lovers really feel.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Celebrity Death Match Special: Plato's Phaedo versus Philip José Farmer's To Your Scattered Bodies Go [Riverworld. Night. Numerous people are gathered around a campfire, including RICHARD BURTON, ALICE PLEASANCE LIDDELL, PLATO, BENJAMIN JOWETT, DANTE, DAVID HUME and FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE. BURTON is addressing the others.] BURTON: ... And for tonight's entertainment, as a unique favor, Plato has consented to perform for us Phaedo, his justly celebrated account of the death of Socrates. Professor Jowett, with some littl/>[Riverworld. Celebrity Death Match Special: Plato's Phaedo versus Philip José Farmer's To Your Scattered Bodies Go [Riverworld. Night. Numerous people are gathered around a campfire, including RICHARD BURTON, ALICE PLEASANCE LIDDELL, PLATO, BENJAMIN JOWETT, DANTE, DAVID HUME and FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE. BURTON is addressing the others.] BURTON: ... And for tonight's entertainment, as a unique favor, Plato has consented to perform for us Phaedo, his justly celebrated account of the death of Socrates. Professor Jowett, with some little assistance from Alice and myself, has undertaken the task of helping the great philosopher render his immortal words into English. Over to you, Plato! PLATO: Thank you, my friends. I will begin at once. Echecrates: Were you yourself, Phaedo, in the prison with Socrates on the day when he drank the poison? Phaedo: Yes, Echecrates, I was... [His audience listen spellbound as PLATO tells the story. Finally he concludes] PLATO: ... he said - they were his last words - he said: Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt? The debt shall be paid, said Crito; is there anything else? There was no answer to this question; but in a minute or two a movement was heard, and the attendants uncovered him; his eyes were set, and Crito closed his eyes and mouth. Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend; concerning whom I may truly say, that of all the men of his time whom I have known, he was the wisest and justest and best. [A moment of silence. Many people are weeping unashamedly. Then rapturous applause.] PLATO: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are all too kind. A MAN IN THE CROWD: Hey, wait a minute. BURTON: Who are you? THE MAN: [his hood is over his face, muffling his voice] We'll talk about that later. What I want to know is, can we rely on this tale? BURTON: My dear sir, are you presuming to doubt the word of Plato? THE MAN: I am. He says he wasn't even there to witness the death of his great teacher and friend "because he was sick". Is that correct? PLATO: I, uh, yes... THE MAN: And what was wrong with you? PLATO: Never been certain... really wasn't feeling at all well that day... perhaps some bad shellfish... THE MAN: A likely story. BURTON: This is an outrage. How dare you address the greatest philosopher of antiquity - indeed, of all time - in these terms? Once again, who are you? THE MAN: [throwing back his hood] If you want to know, I'm Socrates. And the piece you have just heard is nothing but a concoction of embellishments, half-truths and outright lies. Young Plato, you should be ashamed of yourself. [General consternation] BURTON: Plato, is this true? Do you recognize him? PLATO: I, uh, I'm not sure... been a long time... THE MAN: Honestly, Plato. Well, let me explain the absurd nature of my former student's claims. First of all, this disquisition on the nature of identity and comparison. Does that sound like something I would say? In your dialogue Euthydemus, you correctly report me as making fun of the sophists who enjoy this kind of argument. NIETZSCHE: Eet is true. I haf always vundered... THE MAN: Thank you Fred. Nice to see I have some supporters here. Second, your long demonstration of the immortality of the soul. I still can't believe you had the nerve to do this. I always say I know nothing and doubt everything. Suddenly, I'm telling people I have proof - proof, I ask you! of these things which obviously no one can ever be certain about. HUME: Well said, sir! THE MAN: Thank you David. Third, that description of the underworld, complete with all major geographical features and a ridiculously detailed account of which people will end up where. Words fail me. Is it likely that I would be spouting this nonsense? DANTE: Prego, signore. I like-a thees part very much, I make it da basis of great-- THE MAN: Sure, sure, sure. Dante, your epic is fantastic. Best thing since Homer. But the point is, it's poetry. I'm a philosopher. If anyone here doesn't understand the difference, they should leave right now. DANTE: Ah, scusi. Scusi. THE MAN: It's okay Dante. This is between me and Plato, right? So finally, my enigmatic last words. Why do you suppose I asked Crito to sacrifice a cock to Asclepius? NIETZCHE: On zees too, I haf much vundered. Perhaps, you are zanking zee god for curing you of zee sickness of life-- THE MAN: It's much simpler. I just thanked the jailer for getting the dose right and not cocking it up. But as usual, Plato couldn't resist the urge to improve my words. PLATO: I-- THE MAN: Yes? PLATO: You are Socrates. I recognize you now. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I-- I meant well, you understand. SOCRATES: I know you did, Plato. I shouldn't have given you such a hard time. Come here. [They embrace] SOCRATES: But don't do it again, okay? PLATO: I won't. I promise. And I am truly sorry. SOCRATES: Apology accepted. [He digs PLATO in the ribs] "Apology", geddit? [They both laugh uproariously] SOCRATES: Now let's find a tavern. We've got two thousand years of drinking to catch up on. Match point: Philip José Farmer

  3. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    [HARRY's apartment from When Harry Met Sally. HARRY is asleep on his couch. On the table next to him are a mostly-empty bottle of bourbon and a copy of Phaedrus. Enter SOCRATES.] SOCRATES: Good evening, Harry. HARRY: How-- SOCRATES: Don't worry, I'm not real. This is a dream. HARRY: Uh-- SOCRATES: I see you're reading Phaedrus. Looking for advice, maybe? HARRY: I-- I just can't understand how I could have done it. Why did I fuck her? I've ruined everything. SOCRPhaedrus.Sally. [HARRY's apartment from When Harry Met Sally. HARRY is asleep on his couch. On the table next to him are a mostly-empty bottle of bourbon and a copy of Phaedrus. Enter SOCRATES.] SOCRATES: Good evening, Harry. HARRY: How-- SOCRATES: Don't worry, I'm not real. This is a dream. HARRY: Uh-- SOCRATES: I see you're reading Phaedrus. Looking for advice, maybe? HARRY: I-- I just can't understand how I could have done it. Why did I fuck her? I've ruined everything. SOCRATES: You're sure about that? HARRY: We had such a great thing going. We weren't, like, dating, so we could hang out and have fun and talk. There wasn't any jealousy or possessiveness or any of that crap. It was perfect. SOCRATES: Because you weren't lovers, you could enjoy each other's company much more? HARRY: Exactly. We did so many goofy things. You know, there was this one time we were in a diner together... SOCRATES: And what happened? HARRY: It doesn't matter. All over. SOCRATES: You seem very upset, Harry. HARRY: Of course I'm upset! It was the best relationship I've ever had. And now I've just flushed it down the can. I must have been crazy. SOCRATES: Maybe it's not such a bad idea to be crazy sometimes? HARRY: Oh, puh-lease. Don't give that mad-people-are-the-only-sane-ones bullshit. It's not going to help. SOCRATES: Come on, think about it Harry. Whenever you've done anything difficult or creative in your life, weren't you a little crazy? People shook their heads. But sometimes it worked and you felt really good about it afterwards. HARRY: Okay, Socrates, I see where you're going. But this time I just screwed up. That's all there is to it. SOCRATES: And it's particularly true with romance. Have you ever made an important romantic decision and not wondered at least once if you weren't doing something totally insane that you'd regret later? HARRY: Well, now you mention it-- SOCRATES: In everyday life, one must of course act sanely. But with religion and art and love, a little insanity is essential. HARRY: Hm-- SOCRATES: Here, let me give you this picture I sometimes use to help me focus on my own romantic life. When I want to imagine my soul, I see it as this guy driving a chariot with two winged horses. There's one good horse and one bad horse-- HARRY: You know, you were almost talking sense there for a moment, but now you're losing me again. What's My Little Pony got to do with it? SOCRATES: No, no, Harry! This isn't about children's toys, this is serious. The good horse is noble and obedient, but the bad one is full of base instincts. When it sees the loved one-- HARRY: Say, let me just ask you a direct question. What is your romantic life, exactly? SOCRATES: Well, mostly oral sex with underage boys. Some anal. But the whole point of the analogy is that I try to keep it under-- HARRY: So I'm taking romantic advice from a pedophile? SOCRATES: Now Harry, you need to remember that we belong to different cultures. In my society, what you regard as-- HARRY: I'm waking up now. [SOCRATES disappears. A moment later, HARRY is sitting up on his couch, rubbing his eyes. In the background, the sound of scattered fireworks.] HARRY: What the-- [He looks at his watch, which shows 18 minutes to midnight. Suddenly, he grabs his coat and opens the door] HARRY: I might just be in time. If I run.

  4. 5 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    "Such was the end of our comrade...a man who, we must say, was of all those we have known the best, and also the wisest and the most upright." [March, 2013] The grand finale of the wise man of Athens. This was Plato's account of Socrates last hours before his death. One has to say that while the Apology is the most "pop-friendly" of the Socratic dialogues, Phaedo is the greatest, personal, and most human of them all. We are taught two things in this dialogue that have both set the tone of western philosophy (I"Such "Such was the end of our comrade...a man who, we must say, was of all those we have known the best, and also the wisest and the most upright." [March, 2013] The grand finale of the wise man of Athens. This was Plato's account of Socrates last hours before his death. One has to say that while the Apology is the most "pop-friendly" of the Socratic dialogues, Phaedo is the greatest, personal, and most human of them all. We are taught two things in this dialogue that have both set the tone of western philosophy (I think) to this very day. We learn what the ultimate goal of philosophy is and in learning that we are introduced to Plato's Theory of the Forms. I believe, as others said, that all philosophers in the western school have basically responded to one or the other. I won't get into an in-depth explanation of the philosophy for like Socrates I know my limits and I would never be able to do it quite the bit of justice it deserves. Now what is the goal of philosophy according to Socrates [and /or Plato]...preparing oneself for death. This had been strongly implied by Socrates during his trial in Athens but here it is the prime subject. "...the one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death." This explains his calmness and pleasantness at his imminent demise; his almost annoying bewilderment at his friends and family's grief. This also sets up the dialogue of why he has nothing to fear as he will be moving to a much better state of being and we see him spending the remainder of the dialogue trying to convince every one that he will be fine as he lived his life the right way (practicing philosophy) so he will go to the underworld and live with "the God". During the conversation he explains the immortality of the soul, the world of the Forms and why said Forms are eternal. I'm not gonna try to explain it all but one is always marveled at the Socratic questioning method and it is on good display here. I did have one thought that occurred to me, though I am not really troubled by it. In Apology, Socrates said that he started undertaking philosophy when the Oracle at Delphi said he was the wisest man in all of Athens. He disputed that and devoted his life to finding someone smarter than him. I simply wonder when it donned on him that philosophy was "practice for dying and death." I wish that had been explained. Another thing of significance is Socrates (or Plato) prefiguring Immanuel Kant in the theory of the "ding an sich" or thing-in-itself. As he says, "When then, does the soul grasp the truth? For whenever it attempts to examine anything with the body, it is clearly deceived." He is more direct (and Kantian) when he says, "if we are ever to have pure knowledge we must escape from the soul and observe things in themselves with the soul by itself." Wow you can't get any pre-Kantian than that. So you see that this is my favorite Socratic dialogue because of its prophesying of aspects of Kant and existential philosophy. I will definitely be reading this over again for years to come until "the God" says otherwise. This was read as a part of The Trial and Death of Socrates.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    A Twist in Your Toga As they say in the classics, I’m glad I reviewed "The Symposium" before "Phaedrus". http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Although the two relate to similar subject matter, it’s uncertain in what order they were written. However, "Phaedrus" isn’t the toga party that "The Symposium" was, primarily because there are less participants. And everybody knows, the bigger the toga party, the better. (Well, it has a potential for more surprises, though apart from the surprise element, I don't think there’s a A Twist in Your Toga As they say in the classics, I’m glad I reviewed "The Symposium" before "Phaedrus". http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Although the two relate to similar subject matter, it’s uncertain in what order they were written. However, "Phaedrus" isn’t the toga party that "The Symposium" was, primarily because there are less participants. And everybody knows, the bigger the toga party, the better. (Well, it has a potential for more surprises, though apart from the surprise element, I don't think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with a toga party for two.) Under Plane or Chaste Tree? Ironically, my assessment of the number of participants might not be strictly correct. It’s a tribute to Plato’s metafictional structure that, in both cases, only two people are speaking in the present. The difference lies in how many people’s views they recount (in significant detail, too). Here, Socrates and Phaedrus discuss only one other person, Lysias. In effect, Plato sets up a debate between two rival views of Love held by Lysias (as read from a book by Phaedrus) and Socrates. Unlike "The Symposium", this dialogue is conducted outdoors by a stream under the shade of two tall trees (one a plane tree, the other a chaste tree). It is also a much more sober affair. Despite all of the flirtation, it swings between plain talking and chasteness. Lover and Beloved Plato’s dialogue concerns two options for a [male] youth or "Beloved". Lysias’ tale concerned a "fair youth who was being tempted" by a "Non-lover". Lysias advocates that a Beloved should prefer a "Non-lover", while Socrates advocates a "Lover". However, this is not a contrast between a non-sexual relationship and a sexual relationship. They are both forms of homoerotic sexual relationship. The real issue is the extent to which there is a pedagogical or spiritual function in the relationship that would constitute Love or "Eros" in the Greek sense (i.e., the relationship between "Lover" and "Beloved"). Lysias Lysias advances the case of Non-lovers effectively by attacking Lovers: 1. Lovers attach pedagogical and spiritual duties to their passion or desire for the Beloved. The compulsion of their duties is the cost of their passion. As their passion wanes, they count the cost of their passion and they come to resent their Beloved. They cannot maintain the façade of selflessness once their passion flags. 2. The esteem in which Lovers hold their Beloved will suffer when they find an alternative Beloved. 3. The Lover’s love is madness, and who would be taught by a madman? 4. Because the number of Non-lovers exceeds the number of Lovers, the Beloved has a greater choice of sexual partner from the pool of Non-lovers. 5. Lovers limit the Beloved’s access to society at large. 6. Lovers fall out of love when they discover their Beloved has grown into a lesser adult. 7. Lovers praise the Beloved for ulterior motives. Phaedrus is convinced. Socrates’ First Speech (Desire and Reason) Socrates believes that Phaedrus has simply been enchanted by the rhetoric of Lysias’ arguments. He sets out to puncture the enchantment by defining the nature and power of Love. Socrates argues that the above problems result not from the duties of Love, but from Passion or Desire, which is equally found in a Non-lover: "Every one sees that Love is Desire, and we know also that Non-lovers desire the beautiful and good. Now in what way is the Lover to be distinguished from the Non-lover?" The difference between the types of Lover depends on the ability to manage or master Desire: "...in every one of us there are two guiding and ruling principles which lead us whither they will; one is the natural desire of Pleasure, the other is an acquired opinion which aspires after the Best; and these two are sometimes in harmony and then again at war, and sometimes the one, sometimes the other conquers. "When opinion by the help of Reason leads us to the best, the conquering principle is called Temperance; but when Desire, which is devoid of Reason, rules in us and drags us to Pleasure, that power of misrule is called Excess." Socrates elaborates on the cause of this imbalance: "...the irrational desire which overcomes the tendency of opinion towards Right, and is led away to the enjoyment of Beauty, and especially of personal beauty, by the Desires which are her own kindred— that supreme Desire, I say, which by leading conquers and by the force of Passion is reinforced, from this very force, receiving a name, is called Love ('erromenos eros')." Socrates’ Second Speech (The Madness of Love) In the first speech, there is a tendency to regard Love as a form of madness or mania that overcomes Reason. In contrast, in his second speech, he refers to it as "inspired madness": "...let no one frighten or flutter us by saying that the temperate friend is to be chosen rather than the inspired, but let him further show that Love is not sent by the gods for any good to Lover or Beloved...we, on our part, will prove in answer to him that the madness of Love is the greatest of heaven’s blessings." Socrates proceeds to recant the views in the first speech and to reinstate Eros, at the very least, side by side with Reason. He starts by asserting that the Soul is immortal, because it is forever in motion. Because it is self-moving, it has no beginning and equally no ending. It cannot be destroyed. A body which is self-moving or moved from within has a Soul. "The Soul in her totality has the care of inanimate being everywhere." He then describes the Soul in terms of a figure of a charioteer with a pair of winged horses. The horses of a human charioteer differ from those of a divine charioteer: one is noble (reason) and the other is ignoble (passion). The pursuit of truth requires both horses to be harnessed. If their wings are damaged and they are unable to stay in flight, they fall to the earth and form mortal creatures composed of both Soul and Body. The Soul is sustained by the Divine: "The Divine is Beauty, Wisdom and Goodness...and by these the wing of the Soul is nourished...the reason why the Souls exhibit this exceeding eagerness to behold the plain of Truth is that pasturage is to be found there, which is suited to the highest part of the Soul." In short, Love is a desire of Beauty, Wisdom and Goodness, and therefore the Divine. Love nourishes the Soul, and reunites it with the Divine. Hence, "he who loves the beautiful is called a Lover, because he partakes of it," the Divine and its "heavenly blessings". So Socrates concludes, "great are the heavenly blessings which the friendship of a Lover will confer upon [the Beloved]." Non-lovers cannot offer a Beloved these heavenly blessings. They work solely within the framework of mortal or earthly Desire. The Ranks of Beauty and of Love You could argue that the dialogue is of limited relevance to our contemporary concepts of heterosexual Love, because it operates within the framework of homoeroticism and the pedagogical/spiritual world of Greek polytheism. However, this is a potentially superficial argument. Firstly, I think that the mechanism of Love is very similar, regardless of the gender of the participants. Secondly, it's easy to imagine how the same concepts could be adapted to Monotheism. However, it's also arguable that Beauty might play a similar function within Love, regardless of whether Beauty is associated with Wisdom, Goodness or Divinity. Thus, the relationship of Beauty and Love could apply equally in the case of Atheism. Remarkably, this latter argument finds some support in "Phaedrus" itself, partly as a consequence of the polytheism of Greek religion. Socrates believed our views on Beauty depend on the gods we follow. Perhaps there is some subjectivity in our choice of god. This subjectivity might equally affect our perceptions of Beauty and our Love: "Every one chooses his love from the ranks of beauty according to his character, and this he makes his god, and fashions and adorns as a sort of image which he is to fall down and worship. "The followers of Zeus desire that their beloved should have a soul like him; and therefore they seek out some one of a philosophical and imperial nature, and when they have found him and loved him, they do all they can to confirm such a nature in him, and if they have no experience of such a disposition hitherto, they learn of any one who can teach them, and themselves follow in the same way. "And they have the less difficulty in finding the nature of their own god in themselves, because they have been compelled to gaze intensely on him; their recollection clings to him, and they become possessed of him, and receive from him their character and disposition, so far as man can participate in God. "The qualities of their god they attribute to the beloved, wherefore they love him all the more..." It’s almost as if, because the Lover’s sense of Beauty is subjective, there is inevitably an overwhelming desire to both seek it out and project it onto the Beloved of choice. But that’s a whole other story...it will be told, only elsewhere... VERSE: The Form That Love Takes Like Bob Dylan, I’ve Tried love fast and slow, But still sought answers From those in the know. So, to enquire, I searched high and low, Trying to fathom Lust and desire. I even wondered, Are they part of love? Do they connect to Virtue or higher? Can’t someone tell me? Does anyone know? How do we fall and Cupid deal his blow? What makes you realise It’s love at first sight? What is it that smiles In a lover’s eyes? Who chooses the shrine? Why love one person And another scorn? What makes love divine? What causes these storms That so lash my heart? Says what’s good for me Isn’t always so? What kind of black coal Fuels this mad fire? How do you explain What controls the soul? Could the Greeks be right? Are the answers in "Phaedrus" and/or "The Symposium"? What god’s law is it That true love informs? Or is it these god Damned Platonic Forms? SOUNDTRACK: Frankie Goes to Hollywood - "The Power of Love" [Extended Version] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLw_K-... Frankie Goes to Hollywood - "The Power of Love" [Official Version] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vpo0p... ABC - "All of My Heart" [From the album "The Lexicon of Love"] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfph30... ABC - "The Look of Love" [From "The Lexicon of Love"] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMbNYj... Nick Cave - "Babe, You Turn Me On" [Live at the Brixton Academy London, 2004] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXk6PF... Nick Cave - "Nobody's Baby Now" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQNsSS... "...these are my many letters Torn to pieces by her long-fingered hands."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    Phaedo is widely, and rightly, considered to be one of Plato’s masterpieces. Here we witness the noble death of Socrates, perhaps the most iconic moment in the history of philosophy. As any proper philosopher should, Socrates dies in discourse, reasoning up until the very end. The subject of his arguments is, appropriately, what happens after death. By now we no longer find the skeptical Socrates of the early dialogues; here he is propounding the Platonic theory of forms. Plato's hatred of the real an Phaedo is widely, and rightly, considered to be one of Plato’s masterpieces. Here we witness the noble death of Socrates, perhaps the most iconic moment in the history of philosophy. As any proper philosopher should, Socrates dies in discourse, reasoning up until the very end. The subject of his arguments is, appropriately, what happens after death. By now we no longer find the skeptical Socrates of the early dialogues; here he is propounding the Platonic theory of forms. Plato's hatred of the real and love of the ideal leads him to conclude that the soul escapes the corrupting body into the pure understanding of ideas. Immortality is the natural conclusion. And with that comforting thought, Socrates drinks the poison and passes, if not into actual immortality, into the closest literary approximation. Several things are likely to strike the modern reader. As in many Platonic dialogues, the arguments employed by Socrates can seem absurdly flimsy and faulty. Thus it is frustrating when Socrates’ interlocutors inevitably agree with his conclusions; surely real people would be able to see through these bad arguments. However, we have had a long time to develop our logical faculties, in large part thanks to the tradition initiated by Plato; so the occasional sycophantic tone we detect may have sounded quite differently not so long ago. Another striking aspect of Plato’s middle dialogues—and this one in particular—is the strong resemblance their theories have with Christian doctrine. This is no coincidence, of course, since Platonism was a strong influence on the early religion. Consequently, to a later-day reader in a Christian world this dialogue must have seemed eerily prescient and pious for a pagan writer. As masterful as is this dialogue, in the context of Plato’s preceding dialogues it is quite discordant with Plato’s characterization of Socrates. The philosopher is transformed from a skeptic into a mystic, and even ends the dialogue with a description of the world beyond. And it must be said that convincing oneself that there is life after death is not, perhaps, the most philosophical way of facing death. But who knows what Socrates actually did and said that day? Plato himself admits that he was not present.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Phaedo is the final part of Plato's (427-347 BCE) trilogy about the trial and death of his teacher, Socrates (469-399 BCE), and is preceded by the Apology and Crito . The Apology is a riveting account of Socrates' defense against the charges, his reaction to the verdict, and then his reaction to the sentence. Crito is a moving account of his reaction to an opportunity to escape his sentence. (I've written reviews for these in GR, if you're curious.) In this dialogue Plato has a young fr Phaedo is the final part of Plato's (427-347 BCE) trilogy about the trial and death of his teacher, Socrates (469-399 BCE), and is preceded by the Apology and Crito . The Apology is a riveting account of Socrates' defense against the charges, his reaction to the verdict, and then his reaction to the sentence. Crito is a moving account of his reaction to an opportunity to escape his sentence. (I've written reviews for these in GR, if you're curious.) In this dialogue Plato has a young friend of Socrates, Phaedo, recount to acquaintances what happened in the final hours of Socrates' life, surrounded by friends and family and philosophizing up until the final draught of poison. Potentially, Phaedo could have been at least as moving as Crito . However, in my view this potential was wasted in a most regrettable manner. Once again, as in Crito , Plato was not present at the event described. Though the conversation in Crito had to be, either partially or wholly, Plato's invention, it stayed true to the reports made about Socrates' manner and thought by Plato himself and other authors, such as Xenophon. But in this dialogue Socrates is largely Plato's sock puppet in a rather transparent and, to my mind, unacceptable manner. This ventriloquism even strikes me as disrespectful. By all other reports, including Plato's, Socrates refused metaphysical and physical speculation, preferring instead to occupy himself and his collaborators (as he claimed to see them) with ethics and politics. But in this dialogue Plato has Socrates waxing eloquent about Plato's metaphysical speculations concerning ideal forms. Moreover, in the Apology , written relatively soon after Socrates' death, when Socrates speaks about death he considers only two options: (1) complete annihilation and (2) the standard ancient Greek view of all the dead gathered together in Hades, a bleak and somber place where family and old friends can be together eternally, if not joyfully. But in this dialogue Plato has Socrates "proving" the immortality of the soul and talking about souls of the dead returning in the newly born. Also damaging to the credibility of Phaedo is the fact that the chain of "certainly", "true", "of course", blah blah, responses of Socrates' listeners to Plato's words is more than just faintly ridiculous ( Crito is not entirely free of this). What a shame. So, is there something positive to say about this dialogue? Well, if you are interested in Plato's body-and-pleasure-rejecting idealism, his views on ideal forms, the immortality of the soul, as well as why death is a good thing for a philosopher - most of which became sources of Christian theology - then all these find what is said to be their clearest expression in Phaedo . Plato: But you don't think any of those things are positive. Me: True Plato: Even an unfortunate like yourself can recognize something positive to be said about my work. Me: Certainly. Plato (waits with brows raised and arms crossed) Me: --- Plato: Well? Me: OK, but it wasn't the tedious sophistry concerning the existence of degrees of the soul. Plato: Surely. Me: And it wasn't the total rubbish about all knowledge being the recollection of an earlier, noncorporeal contact with ideals. Plato: Quite so. Me: My ears have always had a kind of wistful predisposition to perk up at your idea that the souls of the dead are recycled in the newly born. But I know you need that to get your crazy theory of knowledge to work. Plato: Very true. Me (eying Plato warily): I suppose I must put my cards on the table. Plato: That is quite true. Me: You should have cut everything between Crito passing along the message from the prison attendant and the stroking of Phaedo's hair. You could have saved that rubbish and put it in someone else's mouth in another dialogue. Then the Christians could still have gotten what they wanted and the spotlight in this dialogue could have been focused on Socrates' calm nobility during his last day on Earth, which is where it should have been. Plato: What you say has a wonderful truth in it, Steve. Me: Thanks for the props, man. And give me a buzz if you need some help with the next one. (Re-read in Benjamin Jowett's translation.) Forgotten surprise to stow away for later: Socrates is said in this dialogue to have written poetry in prison! And, once again, this was done at the behest of a vision in a dream.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brad Lyerla

    Socrates died with quiet dignity. He was sentenced to drink a fatal dose of hemlock before nightfall. But first, he spent the day with friends and family discussing philosophy. PHAEDO is Plato’s account of that day. In PHAEDO, Plato recounts Socrates’ arguments for the immortality of the soul. These arguments are not impressive to modern readers. We easily see flaws in Socrates’ logic. This begs the question, did Socrates genuinely believe his arguments for the existence of the soul? Socrates died with quiet dignity. He was sentenced to drink a fatal dose of hemlock before nightfall. But first, he spent the day with friends and family discussing philosophy. PHAEDO is Plato’s account of that day. In PHAEDO, Plato recounts Socrates’ arguments for the immortality of the soul. These arguments are not impressive to modern readers. We easily see flaws in Socrates’ logic. This begs the question, did Socrates genuinely believe his arguments for the existence of the soul? Or was there another motive for sharing these arguments with his family and friends? His first argument is drawn from the ancient belief among Greeks that souls reside in Hades after death. This is a confusing argument that seems to reduce to an assertion that death does not annihilate the soul. This must be so, reasons Socrates, because souls cannot be created from nothing and, therefore, must be cycled over again or eventually nature’s supply of souls would be exhausted. The second is Socrates’ argument from reminiscence. Since knowledge preexists us (as in the case of arithmetic or abstractions such as beauty), our souls must have lived before. How else could that knowledge already reside in our understanding? His third argument begins as a refutation. Socrates refutes the assertion that upon death, the soul is dissipated by the wind. He argues that to dissipate, a soul would have to be divisible into smaller constituent parts. But souls are indivisible. Socrates also demonstrates that the analogy to a lyre is false. The soul is not like harmony produced by a lyre that cannot be attained ever again after the lyre is destroyed. Socrates then responds to the objection that souls may wear out over time. Wherever the soul is found, argues Socrates, there is life. Contraries cannot co-exist in the same thing. Therefore, the soul cannot admit of death. And that which does not admit of death is immortal. Accordingly, a soul is immortal. Having demonstrated that the soul is immortal, Socrates also wants to demonstrate that the immortality of the soul implies that there is a duty upon a man to Live virtuously so that his soul will reside in a good place after his death. Socrates attempts to demonstrate this by imagining the various regions of the underworld to which good and bad souls go after death. The souls of the virtuous go to pleasant regions. Socrates bathes, dismisses the women and children and, though it is early, he drinks the poison. He declines to delay further because he is ready and it would be undignified to quibble or wait any longer. Socrates remains present and engaged in life, including until the very moment before death, when he reminds a friend to repay a small household debt for him. And thus, Socrates dies in a fashion plainly intended to be exemplary for philosophers. It is a seminal moment in the western canon comparable even to the passing of Jesus. Everyone should read the PHAEDO.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hirdesh

    Lovely read. Philosophical Drama, story of Socrates before his death. So descriptively he had explained the virtue of Death with several enumerations. I guess, each line one can takes as a quote of this book. So amazing book and Highly recommended to all readers. Some of Finest Quotes are "I am afraid that other people do not realize that the one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death." (Socrates) "For when Lovely read. Philosophical Drama, story of Socrates before his death. So descriptively he had explained the virtue of Death with several enumerations. I guess, each line one can takes as a quote of this book. So amazing book and Highly recommended to all readers. Some of Finest Quotes are "I am afraid that other people do not realize that the one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death." (Socrates) "For whenever it attempts to examine anything with the body, it is clearly deceived by it." (Socrates) "when men are interrogated in the right manner, they always give the right answer of their own accord, and they could not do this if they did not possess the knowledge and the right explanation inside them." (Cebes) "These equal things and the Equal itself are therefore not the same?" (Socrates) "Then before we began to see or hear or otherwise perceive, we must have possessed knowledge of the Equal itself if we were about to refer our sense perceptions of equal objects to it, and realized that all of them were eager to be like it, but were inferior." (Socrates) "If then one wished to know the cause of each thing, why it comes to be or perishes or exists, one had to find what was the best way for it to be or to be acted upon, or to act." (Socrates)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Phaedrus is another Socratic dialogue, but one which actually is a dialogue. Socrates runs into his friend Phaedrus, who tells him of a conversation he just had with Lysias, a mutual acquaintance. As in the Symposium http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... the topic is love, but here, instead of looking at many different aspects of love, the topic is, initially, who is the better object of a man's love? One should keep in mind that one of the positions defended in the Symposium is: the most noble form of love is that o Phaedrus is another Socratic dialogue, but one which actually is a dialogue. Socrates runs into his friend Phaedrus, who tells him of a conversation he just had with Lysias, a mutual acquaintance. As in the Symposium http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... the topic is love, but here, instead of looking at many different aspects of love, the topic is, initially, who is the better object of a man's love? One should keep in mind that one of the positions defended in the Symposium is: the most noble form of love is that of a mature, virtuous man together with a young, inexperienced man, because the latter could learn thereby from the former how to be a man of virtue; moreover, because they could go to war (or to the assemblies of (solely male) citizens) together, the fear of shame in front of the loved one would assure that both would fight (or otherwise comport themselves) bravely and virtuously. After walking into the countryside, Socrates and Phaedrus find a secluded spot and Phaedrus recounts Lysias' view that, on the contrary, better than a love to such a beloved is a love to a non-beloved. What the devil did Lysias mean by that? I find that when I analyze Lysias' argument with the critical exactitude of a mathematician, it doesn't hold together. If one doesn't look too carefully, here are some of the main points. Strong desire blinds, causing errors and removing one's freedom; strong desire wanes, then obligations once willingly accepted are resented; if one chooses a lover on the basis of his apparent virtue (or potential for virtue), one is too strongly limiting the sample set - perhaps it is among the others you would find your truly deserving friend; if one has a lover, then everyone will think when they see you with him that you are either coming from or going to a sexual encounter (!! - Lysias counters that if you have a relation with a non-lover, then when others see you together, they will not have sex in mind...); if you have a lover, then you are doubly vulnerable to fate, for a blow to the lover is a blow to yourself. You get the idea. What Lysias proposes as better is, roughly speaking, don't get passionately involved with anyone, just have "friends with benefits" (or, using another colloquialism, "fuck buddies"). Note that the position taken has nothing to do with male-male relationships; it may be applied to any person-person relationship. Having read a fair amount of Plato by now, I recognize that this is the set up of the straw man, whom Socrates/Plato(*) will now demolish. But, first, Plato's sock puppet, I mean, Socrates must go through his "Ah, shucks" routine and pretend not to be up to the challenge. (Big sigh...) After we have been subjected to that charade again, Socrates gets down to it. I'm sure you noted in the partial list of Lysias' points above that he confused categories and tacitly weighted personal freedom of action and convenience more than other factors. That might go over well among Ayn Rand's flock, but, in light of Socrates'/Plato's defense in the Symposium of the position that the highest form of love is love for the Absolute, Lysias must get ready for a beat down. Duly delivered. But, dear reader, this first third of the dialogue is just preamble. The reason why Plato wrote this at all is what comes next. He distinguishes between the natural desire for pleasure and the acquired desire, mediated by reason, for what is best. (Ever heard of persuasive definitions?) Guess which one he thinks is better. (Both Socrates and Phaedrus think that Socrates has been inspired by the gods here... sigh...) And then for 40 pages he elaborates in great detail on the position already presented in the Symposium - the highest form of love is divine love of wisdom, of the Absolute.(**) All other forms of love are lower and should best be sublimated into the higher form. But as transparent as Plato's rhetorical ploys have become to me, I must yet acknowledge that the man writes eloquently, if not always persuasively. Plato makes an interesting digression in his paean to the Absolute - in the midst of an analysis of good versus bad speech (surprise: "good" speech reveals/serves the Absolute), he has Socrates expand upon the usefulness of written knowledge/wisdom. Although Plato's primary efforts were made in person in his school, he did, after all, write quite a bit. What did Plato think about such writings? He begins the digression with an Egyptian (!) myth about the god Theuth, who offers written language to the king of upper Egypt, who politely declines, saying that the invention will ruin the memory of his people, for they will rely on the written page instead of internalizing the content. Having read such books, instead of being instructed by the wise, they will believe themselves to be knowledgeable, whereas they are actually ignorant. Socrates agrees with the king. The written word gives only the illusion of life, but it answers to no questions, cannot accommodate itself to different audiences, cannot defend itself against counterargument. This all is negatively contrasted with the living speech of the wise employing the "dialectical art" before his students. The only positive quality of writing books he mentions is if the writing is made "for one's self, to collect a supply of memories for one's own forgetful old age." (My translation from the German.(***)) He adds, rather inconsistently, the clause "and for every person who follows the same path" to this sentence. (*) Once again, one should remember that Plato put these words into the mouths of all participants. (**) Of course, I am oversimplifying here, as my next paragraphs already indicate. (***) Read in a modern revision of Friedrich Schleiermacher's classic German translation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    I’m making my way though Plato’s collected dialogues – and there are quite a few of them. All the same, I’m surprised by how many I’ve read before. I’m going to add some comments about the individual ones as I go through them and maybe something overall on them as a collection once I’ve finished. It would be easy to say this dialogue is about love, except that the Phaedrus isn’t actually about love alone, but also about the power of rhetoric and why we need to be aware of that power. I’m making my way though Plato’s collected dialogues – and there are quite a few of them. All the same, I’m surprised by how many I’ve read before. I’m going to add some comments about the individual ones as I go through them and maybe something overall on them as a collection once I’ve finished. It would be easy to say this dialogue is about love, except that the Phaedrus isn’t actually about love alone, but also about the power of rhetoric and why we need to be aware of that power. One of the things I’ve particularly noticed in this read through of the dialogues is how attracted Socrates is to pretty young men. In one of the dialogues he even mentions how tongue-tied he starts off being while talking to a particularly beautiful young man. And sometimes it is fairly obvious that he is showing off in front of them. This presents something of a counter-theme to the stated aim of many of these dialogues, that beauty is more than just skin deep and that sexual attraction alone isn’t to be trusted. I guess in some ways what is being discussed in relation to love is a bit like choosing someone to be your mentor, even if at least part of that relationship is also going to be sexual. The dialogue starts with Phaedrus going to tell Socrates of something he had read on the nature of love written by Lysias. Now, Socrates stops him, because he can see the speech is basically sticking out of his pocket and so he tells him to read it to him. This is interesting given what is said later about the power of memory and the negative aspects of written texts. Lysias’ speech says that you should enter into a relationship with someone who doesn’t love you, since love comes with lots of problems – not least of which being jealousy – and so you might be better off with someone who just wants to have sex with you as they are likely to have your best interests at heart and will not try to necessarily keep you from mixing with other people. A disinterested lover is therefore likely to be a better mentor, whereas a passionate lover might ultimately do you harm. Socrates listens to this and then says that he was so swept along by how involved Phaedrus was in his reading of the speech that it was all a bit contagious. Which is interesting for the second theme of this dialogue – on rhetoric – since it is that kind of contagion that ultimately Socrates is going to want to overcome. But he then says he could do a better speech on the same theme, but before starting he covers his head, I think basically out of shame and embarrassment since he is going to be swept along by the muses in what he is saying. In a sense this sort of thing sounds like it is Socrates being ironic and even a little sarcastic – and I’m sure it is that too – but I also started to wonder if this wasn’t a bit like watching science fiction films while knowing a little of physics. You know, like in Star Wars where people zap off at light speed across the universe, but everyone is still in the same time relative to each other. If you worry about the physics of the film, you’ll ruin your enjoyment of the film – but if you don’t worry about it, then you have to sort of pretend to remain dumber than you necessarily are. The solution being to worry about the physics after you’ve enjoyed the film, perhaps... Although, as someone who hasn’t seen a Star Wars film since the second one (which was probably numbered episode 7 or something stupid like that), the other option is, of course, to not bother watching them at all. Which I guess is ultimately Socrates’ point and one I've basically followed by default. In Socrates’ first speech he is also arguing that you are better off with a non-lover – since being in love is a kind of madness and since a lover wants their own pleasure from the object of their love, that is unlikely to involve them worrying too much about what is bests for the young man. In fact, it is likely to have pretty bad consequences for the young man, since the lover will be moulding them into something that will best suit their own passions. A non-lover, on the other hand, is more likely to be a guide in the young man’s life and so ought to be chosen for those reasons. Except, love is basically a god and so Socrates, in making this speech against love, has just blasphemed – the little ghost guy that tells him when he made some sort of blunder tells him this before he can leave, and so he now has to make another speech to make amends. And so, this time his focus is on the benefits of love. In this Socrates talks of how the particular beauty of the young man acts as a kind of stepping stone towards grasping the truth of the form of the beautiful – and this is realised in the movement from the particular (the beauty of the boy) to the universal (beauty per se) - or from the concrete realisation of beauty in the young boy, to the abstract (and therefore more true) nature of beauty as a form. To achieve ‘true’ love, the lover and the boy need to be swept along by desire so as to be nearly overcome by it, but to ultimately not give into that desire – that is, I guess, they show that their desire for knowledge and truth about beauty is stronger than the baser emotions involved in consuming and consummating their physical desire. So, to recap a little – Phaedrus reads a speech by Lysias to Socrates, Socrates first tries to improve this speech, by improving upon its rhetorical form, but then has to give another version of the speech to not just fix up its form, but also the problems with its content. We then come to a discussion on the nature of rhetoric itself – or rather, of writing. Socrates sees writing as a problem, and it is important in that context to remember that he, a bit like Jesus, never wrote anything, but spent his life in discussions with people. All the same, as I said at the start, it is interesting that he demanded a reading of the first speech, rather than a recollection of it. Socrates believed discussion was far superior to writing since if you don’t understand something said by someone you are talking to, you can ask them a question – and asking questions is certainly Socrates’ thing. But with a book it has the problem of only being able to tell you the same thing over and over again. And as I said before, we can too easily get swept along by the beauty of a speech, and miss the fact that perhaps nothing worthwhile is being said. I noticed this particularly this week, after the Labor Party here in Australia lost the election – an election it had been decided by everyone for years it would be impossible for the ALP to lose. Anyway, one of their ex-politicians put a video online of him very passionately saying things needed to change. He didn’t say which things needed to change, how they needed to change, how those changes might make it more likely for the ALP to win the next election – none of that – just that things needed to change. He did, however, say this with remarkable force and conviction, so much so that I'm quite sure he was terribly, terribly sincere, and his little video has received 16,500 views. It is just that, despite the depth of his sincerity, I'm not sure I could tell you what he is being sincere about. Of course, the problem with writing isn’t just that you can’t ask the written text questions – well, you can, it’s just you can’t expect answers. Rather, the real problem with written texts for Socrates is the impact they have on memory. Writing is often considered to be an ‘aid’ to memory – but for Socrates, it is likely to be the exact opposite. Whereas before writing you had to remember by-heart things you wanted to ‘take with you’, with writing you can always refer back to the text. The problem is, that having something ‘in your heart’ isn’t quite the same as having something that you can ‘look up’. For a long time I tried to learn poetry by heart, and for pretty much the same reason Socrates is saying here. I highly recommend it, by the way – you can play with poems you know by heart in ways it is harder to play with them if you have to track them down and read over again. And that does make a difference. You understand poems more once you have committed them to memory – Part of me thinks that should sound obvious, but another part of me suspects many people might not really believe it. This is one of the classic dialogues – perhaps one of the top ten – a couple of things I’ve read about it talk about how it is one of Plato’s homosexual dialogues – which is, of course, a bit stupid – given that homosexuality as we think of it now wasn’t really what the Ancient Greeks understood by the idea of love (or even sex) between a man and a ‘boy’. We find it impossible to understand the past other than through the lens of our present prejudices. As such, this book is a good curative for that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    I have heard a tradition of the ancients, whether true or not they only know; although if we found the truth ourselves, do you think that we should care much about the opinions of men? Delightful rumination on the contrast of rhetoric and philosophy, on the written against the spoken and the madness which is love. I read this as grist for a Derrida project which failed to appear on command. Other tools require being readied.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Genni

    ---Update 2017--- I did a quick read-through of this while traveling a couple of days ago. What stuck out to me this time was Simmias's analogy of the soul to the attunement of a lyre. One of Socartes's objections is that the attunement theory is inconsistent with the theory of recollection, itself not established, but also that the attunement theory does not explain the soul's rule of the body. I am wondering: if the soul rules the body, is this not rather proof that the soul and bod ---Update 2017--- I did a quick read-through of this while traveling a couple of days ago. What stuck out to me this time was Simmias's analogy of the soul to the attunement of a lyre. One of Socartes's objections is that the attunement theory is inconsistent with the theory of recollection, itself not established, but also that the attunement theory does not explain the soul's rule of the body. I am wondering: if the soul rules the body, is this not rather proof that the soul and body are inextricably linked and not separate entities? ---------------- Good stuff. What I find interesting here are some of the thoughts that melded so well with Christianity later on. Denying the physical pleasures of the body to discover spiritual truths is a wonderful ideal, yet if not tempered by the message of grace from the New Testament can lead to extremes in self-denial. The final point of the dialogue was to prove the immortality of the soul. After several attempts by argument, he resorts to mythology to explain his belief. Indeed, it is difficult when discussing things metaphysical to stay purely in the realm of reasoning, so no blame there. I love wandering around in his arguments to and from contraries. At what point does hot become cold and cold become hot? I have no idea, but as an argument for his point this fails because it depends on the shaky premise (that his companions seem to accept without question) that our souls existed before in hades, which is as difficult to prove as that they exist after death. Great, thought-provoking dialogue.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Plato on life after death 26 October 2012 I have noticed that a number of people consider that this text is the crowning piece that defines the Western philosophical method. In a way I agree and in a way I disagree. In one sense one can see how the idea of the separation of the body and the soul has come down to us and which has formed a major part of Western spiritual thought and in turn forms one of the bases of what I tend to term as our civil religion. However there are two things t Plato on life after death 26 October 2012 I have noticed that a number of people consider that this text is the crowning piece that defines the Western philosophical method. In a way I agree and in a way I disagree. In one sense one can see how the idea of the separation of the body and the soul has come down to us and which has formed a major part of Western spiritual thought and in turn forms one of the bases of what I tend to term as our civil religion. However there are two things that it is not. First of all it is not Christian, and secondly it is not Socratic. I will deal with both in turn and I will outline my argument about how it is not Socratic first and then how it is not Christian secondly. Before I go on, one of my primary sources of the fact that it is not Socratic is my Classical History lecturer David Hester (who is now retired). Secondly, since this not an academic essay to be handed up to a university to be marked I will not be referencing or sourcing my arguments. However, if anybody wishes to debate either point I more than welcome them, since that is what the comment section below the commentary is for. Anyway, the first thing that stood out when I read this work was that it differs from a lot of other Socratic dialogues as it is a second hand account. Most of the Socratic dialogues come across as first hand accounts, and we know that Plato was present at the trial because we are told that he was (and I also suspect that he was present when Crito visited Socrates on the night before his execution). However, this particular work is based around a conversation that occurred months, or even a couple of years, after the event. We are told that Plato was not present at the execution (apparently he was sick), so we are relying not just on Plato being present at this conversation, but also on the accuracy of Phaedo, who claims to have been present at the execution. As such we see that Plato appears to be distancing not so much himself, but rather Socrates, from the philosophy that is being outlined. Secondly, the theory of forms is being discussed in this work (I am hesitant to call it a dialogue because it is not actually a dialogue in the way that the other Platonic works are dialogues). The theory of forms, as my lecturer explained, was purely a Platonic idea and not a Socratic one (and I will give my reasoning below). The theory of forms, though, is the idea that everything in our reality is flawed, however they are shadows of a much greater reality. Therefore a table that we see is not a perfect table but rather a shadow of the real table. We see this argument developed elsewhere, and in particular with the cave analogy that Plato expounds in The Republic. Thirdly, this particular dialogue deals with what I would term as pseudo-scientific speculation, in particular the nature of the body and the soul, and what happens to the soul after death. We note that the Socrates in this dialogue talks about the purpose of life is to pursue knowledge, or gnosis. However, and while I have not read the Socratic dialogues in Greek, I get the idea that Socrates is not so much interested in gnosis, but rather in sophos, or wisdom. In the dialogues of Socrates that I have read and commented on I have noticed that Socrates' main focus is on how were are to live in society, which is the idea of wisdom, as opposed to gaining knowledge of things, which is gnosis. Finally, we have Socrates, for a large part, lecturing, which is something that Socrates simply does not do. Granted, in the Apology, we do have him providing a defence, but even in his defence we see him falling back on what we call the Socratic method, that is taking the position of ignorance and asking a series of questions that tend to guide the person in the argument around to your point of view. However, it is interesting to note that there are a lot of spurious arguments and questions that seem to come from nowhere only to try to bring the point around to what Plato wanted to prove. Now, I make the statement about it not being Christian. Most of you, I hope, would look at me oddly and say 'of course it is not Christian, idiot, it was written by an Ancient Greek five hundred years before Christ walked the Earth'. However, while this text may not be Christian, it has had a tremendous impact upon Christian thought (along with other Platonic works). The first and main thing that has influenced Western thought is the idea that the body and the soul are connected but not the same. Many of us, and it has permeated the church for centuries, believe that when we die our body rots in the ground and our spirit goes to heaven or to hell. Just take a look at Dante where we see him travelling through hell and seeing it full of spirits. That, my friend, is Platonic. However, here is an extract from 1 Corinthians chapter 15: Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain ... but in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. So, as you can see from this passage (which has been truncated a bit, but can be found in its entirety here), the biblical position on life after death is not a spirit drifting around a spiritual realm, but a restored and resurrected physical body in a restored and resurrected physical world. Oh, and there is also discussions and proofs on reincarnation in the Phaedo as well, which as we all know, it pretty much not a Christian belief (but was, in fact, an Ancient Greek belief). Now, the other interesting thing I noticed is that I recently read a book called Gospel and Wisdom, and in that book it tries to identify what it is that the bible terms as worldly wisdom. The writer suggested that it was attempting to determine biblical truths through human reason and logic. Pretty much as soon as I began to read this text it struck me that this is probably what he was referring too. Here we have a discussion on the idea of life after death from what effectively is pure speculation. Remember that, according to Christianity, the only person that can actually comment on life after death is Jesus Christ and that is because he died and rose again. As such, according to the bible, he is the only person with authority to speak on the subject because he is the only historical person that has ever travelled there (in an identifiable historical period) and come back to talk about it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    I am myself a great lover of these processes of division and generalization; they help me to speak and to think. This is one of Plato’s more discursive dialogues, wandering from topic to topic like a real conversation rather than presenting a tight argument. As such, it is not exactly satisfying as a presentation of Plato’s idealistic philosophy by itself; but it makes for a wonderful companion piece to other dialogues, such as the Gorgias or the Symposium. The two primary themes of this dialogue are love and rhetori I am myself a great lover of these processes of division and generalization; they help me to speak and to think. This is one of Plato’s more discursive dialogues, wandering from topic to topic like a real conversation rather than presenting a tight argument. As such, it is not exactly satisfying as a presentation of Plato’s idealistic philosophy by itself; but it makes for a wonderful companion piece to other dialogues, such as the Gorgias or the Symposium. The two primary themes of this dialogue are love and rhetoric; and they are combined in the criticism of speeches about love. The love that Plato embraces is, predictably, Platonic: the admiration of the soul rather than the lust of the body. As usual, Socrates attacks rhetoric for being the art of twisting and obscuring the truth; and as usual, I find his arguments to be rather purposefully naïve. Knowing the truth and convincing somebody else of it are two entirely different things; and the skillful use of language can very much help with the latter (though, of course, it can also be used to deceive). Plato of all writers knew the value of rhetoric: it is as much for his literary skill as his intellectual merit that he remains so widely read. As a case in point, this dialogue is notable for containing some of Plato’s more memorable episodes. We see Socrates, for once, outside the city, relishing the beauty of the natural scenery, his senses almost drunk with pleasure. The “madness” or “divine inspiration” of lovers and poets is frequently noted, to be contrasted with the cool rationality of Socrates. Plato also gives us the famous metaphor of the soul as a charioteer with two horses, one of the flesh and one of the spirit. And the dialogue ends with Socrates’ denunciation of writing—which, again, can only sound playfully disingenuous when written by Plato. The dialogue then ends, and Socrates and rhetoric live to fight another day.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Spoiler alert: This book is not about a "philosophy of love" as many reviewers seem to believe. As every dream has its manifest content (a storyline) that masks a latent content (the suppressed, unconscious emotions that bubble into our semi-conscious REM sleep), Socrates' discourse on the nature of love thinly masks the true subject of this dialogue: bullshit, how to produce it, and how to recognize it. For the reader, his dialectical approach gives us a hint about how to resist it. Spoiler alert: This book is not about a "philosophy of love" as many reviewers seem to believe. As every dream has its manifest content (a storyline) that masks a latent content (the suppressed, unconscious emotions that bubble into our semi-conscious REM sleep), Socrates' discourse on the nature of love thinly masks the true subject of this dialogue: bullshit, how to produce it, and how to recognize it. For the reader, his dialectical approach gives us a hint about how to resist it. With self-deprecating charm -- true to form -- Socrates schools beautiful young Phaedrus on his own susceptibility to bullshit, alternately praising Phaedrus's current object of infatuation, the silver-tongued rhetor Lysias, and ruthlessly dismantling the rhetorical artifices of Lysias' manufacture. This excellent translation by Christopher Rowe is not only accessible to the reader not familiar (or terribly comfortable) with the Socratic dialogs, but manages, too, to emphasize Socrates' sharp wit, good humor, and gentleness of pedagogy. Rowe's scholarly introduction provides context and background making clear the significance of this work. It is a testament to Plato -- an early generation child and devotee of alphabetic literacy -- that he takes pains to accurately convey to us Socrates' belief that writing would sap the intelligence of the Athenian youth, making them both less knowledgeable about the universal precepts of logic, and less inclined to engage in a dialectic with thought externalized and made permanent.

  17. 4 out of 5

    House of Books

    Very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Ele

    Being 33, and in a mood which is due to my weariness with the world, I can definitely sympathize with Socrates' character in this. As I scroll though face book, seeing as I am kind of addicted to anything that resembles social media, I see so many injustices calling out to me for my sad emoji face and/or anger emoji face. So many causes of injustice one could stand against.....for what though? So that I can be put on a list as a troublemaker only to be executed later on when I get too big for my Being 33, and in a mood which is due to my weariness with the world, I can definitely sympathize with Socrates' character in this. As I scroll though face book, seeing as I am kind of addicted to anything that resembles social media, I see so many injustices calling out to me for my sad emoji face and/or anger emoji face. So many causes of injustice one could stand against.....for what though? So that I can be put on a list as a troublemaker only to be executed later on when I get too big for my britches? To be or not to be? To watch the world slowly kill itself as it is undoubtedly being run by maniacs into a future which is looking more and more like a cross between 1984 and the Terminator dystopia? The other day I saw a polar bear die of exhaustion. It was a horrible sight to behold. I wonder what Socrates would say? Either way, they put Socrates to death for something other than causing the death of a human being. This is what this world does to those who dare to question the purported "wisdom" of the time. So, really it doesn't surprise me at all that the world is the way it is today. It has kind of been leading up to this, like the last dying exhausted breath of a polar bear. I just wonder, if when it comes my time, will I remain on the sidelines not participating in the tragic comedy of human existence, watching like a man outside of a fishbowl, disinterested and unattached to all the insanity, or will I act and thereby earn myself a cup of good ole poison hemlock? DISCLAIMER: THIS WAS NOT AN ACTUAL REVIEW OF THE TEXT, BUT MORE LIKE A POETICAL EXCURSION INTO THE ARTIST'S MOOD WHILE READING THE TEXT. THE ARTIST FINDING PARALLELS WITH THE INJUSTICE OF SOCRATES' DEATH AND THE INJUSTICE IN OUR OWN WORLD AND TIME.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Actually, I read the Grube translation and found it excellent. This is the dialogue containing the description of Socrates’ last discussion with his disciples and of his death. It is related by Phaedo, who was with Socrates during these events, to Echecrates, who was not. The discussion begins with Socrates’ reflections on opposites, such as pleasure and pain, that define each other. This reflection is used to initiate a discussion on the nature of the soul and the nature of death, it Actually, I read the Grube translation and found it excellent. This is the dialogue containing the description of Socrates’ last discussion with his disciples and of his death. It is related by Phaedo, who was with Socrates during these events, to Echecrates, who was not. The discussion begins with Socrates’ reflections on opposites, such as pleasure and pain, that define each other. This reflection is used to initiate a discussion on the nature of the soul and the nature of death, it being Socrates’ conviction that the soul, or mind, is immortal and survives the death of the body. He makes the famous assertion that the practice of philosophy is to practice for death and dying. In claiming that the soul and body are separate, he asserts that true knowledge does not come via the senses, thus leading to his assertion of the existence of the Forms, those immutable and eternal Ideas that exist independently of material reality. (He does not assert that it is via the body that we gain our first intuitions of what the Ideal must be, feeling that this knowledge is innate – as later he reviews his understanding that knowledge is recollection of what is already known but not at first available to our understanding). As I was reading this I was reminded of the work of the 20th century psychologist Jean Piaget and his work on the learning and understanding of basic concepts by young children. I am also reminded of the current controversy about whether mind (or what Socrates would call soul) is an epiphenomenon of the brain (ie, the body), or whether it does or can exist independently, in which case it must have pre-existed or have occurred de novo, which seems somehow illogical. Socrates argues that the soul cannot be scattered or dispersed at the time of the body’s death because it is not composite, and he argues why it cannot be composite. He further argues that the invisible always remains the same, and since the soul is invisible it must remain unchanged. At one point he says that “philosophy sees that the worst feature of this imprisonment [in the body] is that it is due to desires,” and in this sense his understanding is not all that different from the teachings of the Buddha. His extended discussion of opposites such as tallness and shortness shows that he is not talking about terms that come into being by mere contrast or comparison, but rather the concepts of these that are eternal and innate. Using this discussion, he asserts that the soul is deathless and indestructible. Rounding out this whole discussion, Socrates describes a temporary existence after the death of the body that bears some likeness to the Roman Catholic idea of Purgatory, although he admits that this is not to be taken literally and is simply a metaphor for something that we cannot really know before death. The dialogue ends with Socrates drinking the hemlock and dying. This is truly a marvelous work. Whether or not the reader finds it convincing in all its details, read carefully and thoughtfully it cannot but precipitate deep thought and fruitful reflection, enlarging and deepening the reader’s own understanding.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Initial Problem: Can a lover be a stable friend? P1: The Lover is more dis-ordered than the non-lover. P2: Love is a desire [Plato 237] P2a: Erromenos Eros is the Supreme Desire. P3: (Socrates speaking): The non-lover has all the advantages in which the lover is deficient. P(1-3) establish that the lover is always unstable. He is concerned with pleasing the beloved. It seems if he is controlled by desire (Eros), then he isn’t rational. In fact, he is mad.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Phaedo would have been much easier to understand if he communicated with someone who had more brain capacity than a chestnut. In summary: Socrates: Bla bla bla! Cebes and Simmias: But why do you think that!? Socrates: Poop bla bla bla! Cebes and Simmias: Oh.....but what about goop de floop? Socrates: No! No goop de floop! Poop bla bla bla! Cebes and Simmas: Oh.... okay. Socrates: Do you understand? Cebes and Simmas: No...we don't want to offend Phaedo would have been much easier to understand if he communicated with someone who had more brain capacity than a chestnut. In summary: Socrates: Bla bla bla! Cebes and Simmias: But why do you think that!? Socrates: Poop bla bla bla! Cebes and Simmias: Oh.....but what about goop de floop? Socrates: No! No goop de floop! Poop bla bla bla! Cebes and Simmas: Oh.... okay. Socrates: Do you understand? Cebes and Simmas: No...we don't want to offend you because you're about to die. Socrates: I WANT to talk about this. Cebes and Simmas: Well....if you're sure... Socrates: I love talking about this!!! Poop bla bla bla! Cebes and Simmas: Ok......... Cebes and Simmas (aside): I don't understand him.... Socrates, who can we talk to about this when you die? No wonder Socrates thought death was a cure for life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Socrates is dead. Phaedo has witnessed Socrates's death, and happens to run into a friend or acquaintance named Echecrates a few days later in the Greek city of Phlius. Socrates having had a reputation as an exceedingly wise man, Echecrates would like to know exactly what he said before his death. "Let's do this"... no, my mistake, I think that was Gary Gilmore. Where were we? Yes, that's right- Phaedo, apparently a reservoir of stamina, obliges Echecrates by reciting everything that Socrates sa Socrates is dead. Phaedo has witnessed Socrates's death, and happens to run into a friend or acquaintance named Echecrates a few days later in the Greek city of Phlius. Socrates having had a reputation as an exceedingly wise man, Echecrates would like to know exactly what he said before his death. "Let's do this"... no, my mistake, I think that was Gary Gilmore. Where were we? Yes, that's right- Phaedo, apparently a reservoir of stamina, obliges Echecrates by reciting everything that Socrates said verbatim, if you can believe that, as well as the interjections from the others who were there. The subject of their discussion, at least in the beginning, is why Socrates seems so unnaturally solicitous of death- or whether it really should be unnatural to think of death solicitously. In Crito, Socrates has even refused an attempt by his friend to help him escape from prison before his execution.  Socrates proposes the existence of a soul that throughout life is shackled to a corrupting body; the body leads the soul away from the path of wisdom and towards vice, desire and pettiness. For a philosopher, who should value wisdom above all else, death is an opportunity for the soul to exist, finally, unfettered by eating, drinking, sleeping, pissing, shitting, sexual desire, etc. This is asceticism, sainthood. Or it's dread, which is where I think a lot of my early interest in Buddhism came from. Socrates's view seems in line with the Buddha's Noble Truths (not the only similarity this dialogue has with Buddhism)- that life is suffering, that suffering is caused by attachment, etc. A modern view might disregard the concept of a soul altogether; but if 'mind' has taken the place of 'soul' to describe that which is unseen, that general modern view would probably hold that real wisdom is in finding harmony between the the mind and the body and recognizing their inseparability; that real wisdom has to account for pissing, shitting, drinking and fucking, as well as getting sick and shopping in the grocery store while terrible music plays- both the pleasures and burdens of having a body in the only world we know. Socrates's view is unlike, say, Descartes's mind-body dualism, because Socrates acknowledges that the body has an influence on the soul- he is just disgusted that the soul must toil on earth, gradually habituated to corruption.  I think that some of George Orwell's comments on Gandhi seem applicable to Socrates's view here: Gandhi's teachings cannot be squared with the belief that Man is the measure of all things and that our job is to make life worth living on this earth, which is the only earth we have. They make sense only on the assumption that God exists and the world of solid objects is an illusion to be escaped from.  The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life...No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid.Satisfied with Socrates's answer? No, Socrates's interlocutors weren't, either. That's all well and good Socrates, says either Simmias or Cebes, I'm afraid I can't remember at this point (these are two of the guys, presumably Socrates's friends, sitting with Socrates and Phaedo), but surely you must be aware that many people fear that the soul is simply extinguished upon the death of the body. Socrates makes a little joke about those who are unlucky enough to die during gales- oops, there goes your soul. Then he moves into the first of his arguments for the immortality of the soul, which I would have called the Argument from Opposites but which the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy informs me is known as the Cyclical Argument. The idea as I understand it is that all things come from their opposite states: that which is larger had to have been at one point smaller, for example. Furthermore, there are opposite processes that exist between these pairs: the process of increase and the process of decrease. If we take the opposites of being awake and being asleep (to choose the example that seemed clearest to me, although yes, through Socrates's slight-of-hand we've moved from a pair of comparatives to a pair of actual opposites), it's clear that we can only awaken from the state of sleep, and that we can only fall asleep from the state of having been awake. Therefore, since life and death are also opposites, the same relation must hold true- there must be a certain place where the souls of the dead congregate, waiting to be born into new bodies (unless, Socrates suggests, they've achieved a philosophical purity that presumably brings the cycle to an end- another similarity with Buddhism). The purpose of our lives therefore, as in plural, is a gradual process of refinement and attunement, to prepare us for when we move on to...well, something, or maybe nothing. Socrates gets to that at the end, actually. In his next argument, the Argument from Recollection, Socrates suggests that a certain kind of knowledge is in reality recollection. Two sticks held side-by-side, for example, may seem equal, but fall short of true Equality. Certain things may be beautiful, but only because they share in the Beautiful. A verdict in court may be just, but only because it is one of many possible representations of Justice, which is nonphysical and thus inaccessible to us in this world. This, again according to the IEP, is arguably the first mention in Plato's writing of his theory of Forms. How can we have knowledge of true Equality, or Beauty, or Justice, if these things don't exist in the world we inhabit? It must be that we recollect them, from a time before we were born; hence, the soul exists before birth.  Great. Problem solved. Are we ready to die without trepidation now? Well...okay, sure, get back to me on that. Fix yourself a stiff drink and come back to this review. Not to fear, though; Socrates still has two more arrows in his quiver, which I am not going to get into here because, frankly, it would involve a lot more writing, but which you can read about in the IEP entry, http://www.iep.utm.edu/phaedo/ ...or in Phaedo itself. But I'm finding the experience of going back to Plato strange, and Phaedo is particularly strange. I appreciate it the way one might appreciate a dream, or an acid trip, or a tropical depression, or a séance. While Socrates makes claims here that are entirely unfalsifiable, Phaedo is moving. First of all, the subject matter is inherently moving. Secondly, Plato is the beginning of formal logic; listening to Socrates speak with his interlocutors, you become aware that these humans, our brothers, are learning to argue, exploring this thing called logic, testing out, like a bicycle, what it can do and what it can't (and we still haven't quite mastered it, have we?). None of the speakers are trying to satisfy their own egos; rather, they want to see if it's possible to discover the truth of the matter. The problem, as Phaedo reports having worried about halfway through the discussion, is that "...these matters are inherently obscure." Uh yeah, you can say that again.   Then again, I have to admit that I may be very wrong about what's going on here. Socrates says something towards the end that I found extremely odd. No, not the part about the concentric rings of water, where he speculates on the precise geographic location of the place where the souls of the dead reside, waiting to be born again; or that those who are set free from the cycle of, well, let's call it metempsychosis, end up on the earth's true surface, which to us is as accessible as what we regard as the earth's surface to fish. No, it's after all this that Socrates says,Of course, no reasonable man ought to insist that the facts are exactly as I have described them. But that either this or something very like it is a true account of our souls and their future habitations- since there is certainly evidence that the soul is deathless- this, I think, is both a fitting contention and a belief worth risking; for the risk is a noble one. We should use such accounts to enchant ourselves with...This echoes a statement Socrates makes towards the middle of the dialogue, after Cebes asks him what to do about the "child" inside each of us who fears death. Socrates responds, "What you should do...is to pronounce an enchantment over him every day until you have charmed his fears away." "We should use such accounts to enchant ourselves with." Maybe Socrates is right. Maybe we should, and maybe the occasionally tortured logic in Phaedo is all an attempt to lend that enchantment the guise of truth. Or maybe we shouldn't. If someone like Ernest Becker is correct, there is nothing more important than how we choose to deal with the fear of death. Either way, these are odd words coming from a man whose reputation is of a skeptic, committed to wisdom above all else.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    The Phaedo, though on the surface concerned with the immortality of the soul, also contains a very interesting explication of the theory of recollection, first brought forward in the Meno, as well as the closest Plato ever gets to both explaining his theory of forms and saying that God is an immaterial mind. The theory of recollection tells us that, when we see two equal objects, we know that the two are equal not in virtue of their actual equality, since they aren't actually equal, but in virtu The Phaedo, though on the surface concerned with the immortality of the soul, also contains a very interesting explication of the theory of recollection, first brought forward in the Meno, as well as the closest Plato ever gets to both explaining his theory of forms and saying that God is an immaterial mind. The theory of recollection tells us that, when we see two equal objects, we know that the two are equal not in virtue of their actual equality, since they aren't actually equal, but in virtue of the idea of Equal, with which we are comparing this particular instance of approximation to equality. Where did we get this idea of Equal? We cannot have learned it, since nothing in our experience can demonstrate the notion of equality: you either have the notion or you do not. Hence, it follows that we either were born with this idea, or possessed it before we were born; the former is dismissed because Socrates thinks it unlikely that we would instantly know something and just as quickly forget it; so we must be trying to remember something we knew before we were born but forgot in the process of being born. Regardless of how you feel about that, it lays down a bit of the groundwork for the theory of forms. Socrates was very upset how something that we call tall could be tall by means of shortness: exempli gratiae, 10 feet is taller than 8 feet by two feet. That seems so wrong-headed and contradictory that, if we are interested in being clear, we will want to say, 10 feet is taller than 8 feet not in virtue of shortness but in virtue of tallness. This is all preliminary to the great final argument, which, in truth, is nothing short of astounding: Socrates, after maintaining that if his material bones and sinews were in control, he would have left the Athenian jail a long time before, and therefore having proved the existence of the soul, which possesses free-will, tries to show that the soul cannot be subject to destruction by means of the theory of forms. It goes a little something like this: we have the idea of Three, not in virtue of any three we see, and this idea will be instantiated in any group of three we come across; now this idea carries along with it a quality which has an opposite quality, namely, Oddness. Three, it will readily be admitted, will never admit Evenness, and so it has been shown that certain ideas carry with them qualities whose opposing qualities the idea itself will not admit. In the same way, then, the soul brings with it the quality of life to the body, and the opposite of life is death; now, we know from the above that even though soul is not a direct opposite of death, it, in virtue of bringing life, cannot admit the opposite of the quality it brings. Therefore, soul, which will not admit death, in the same way that 3 will not admit Evenness, is un-dying. Now, what is immortal must be indestructible. Therefore, the soul is both immortal and indestructible. Apparently, Plato, not having the benefit of Bram Stoker, did not realize that immortality and destructibility can co-exist within the same being. Only vampires, it seems, then, could've brought Plato back to reality!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    Thank goodness Plato idealized Socrates so much otherwise so much about him would have been lost. I kind of put off reading this one because I knew that it dealt with death and the human soul, which is a subject that hangs over my head on occasion. Big mistake! This was as wonderful as Plato's other works, I always give Socrates this kind of saucy attitude in my mind, he is so quick! I wonder how much of this was actually said or what just carried over from other discussions with Socrates during Thank goodness Plato idealized Socrates so much otherwise so much about him would have been lost. I kind of put off reading this one because I knew that it dealt with death and the human soul, which is a subject that hangs over my head on occasion. Big mistake! This was as wonderful as Plato's other works, I always give Socrates this kind of saucy attitude in my mind, he is so quick! I wonder how much of this was actually said or what just carried over from other discussions with Socrates during his lifetime. I actually found a lot of relief at the onset of the great ending, if a man like Socrates can go down in this style (ok so poison is not terribly heroic, but at least he had a lot of great last lines) then maybe I shouldn't be so afraid as well. Wonderful dialogues on the soul, absolutely wonderful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    On the Road

    Phaedo is probably one of the most significant and iconic episodes of philosophy history. In this dialogue, we are given the opportunity of grapple with Plato’s theory of forms and his inquiry of the sources of knowledge, in the process of defending his fearlessness and pleasantness in the face of Socrates’ imminent demise. There are a few questions that should confuse a modern reader: what is the significance of this piece besides that its main character is the founder of philosophical reasonin Phaedo is probably one of the most significant and iconic episodes of philosophy history. In this dialogue, we are given the opportunity of grapple with Plato’s theory of forms and his inquiry of the sources of knowledge, in the process of defending his fearlessness and pleasantness in the face of Socrates’ imminent demise. There are a few questions that should confuse a modern reader: what is the significance of this piece besides that its main character is the founder of philosophical reasoning? What we should appreciate from this book besides it is rightly considered as a masterpiece? The first thing I would say is Socrates as a lover of knowledge demonstrates powerfully what is it like to be genuinely inquisitive about the truth and how one should use rationality to justify his fate when it is determined by the external. Although this is not Socrates’ intention, I do view that to a certain degree, Socrates tries to convince his companions he is indeed at peace with himself knowing death is to be put upon him. Some of his logic is clearly faulty and arbitrary – for instance, to argue the immortality of a soul he uses the example of the immortality of God to justify that a soul can be imperishable so long as humans deem gods as imperishable – and from the standpoint of an atheist this does not stand still. I truly admire the spirit he possesses in search of virtue and beauty. Also, if we look at this dialogue from the whole picture of human intellectual history, this is a very inspiring book. Let us imagine, at some point in our record of time, humans truly broke free of the limit of the survival instinct of hunting, power and mating and started to ponder about the meaning of wisdom, virtue, the universe and philosophy. How can we not say that humans are not superior to animals? Hence, to appreciate Plato’s ideas, readers need to have a sense of mega-awareness to the significance this piece holds for humans in seek of questions – what happens after death, the separation of body and soul and human virtues – that are so abstract, so difficult, and so remarkable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Alexander

    Phaedrus is a beautiful dialogue of Plato. I confess, I listened to the whole thing while laying down mulch for hours with my earbuds. Librivox.org, man. Plato first sets the stage by narrating a scene of playful leisure to set the stage for layered, increasingly deeper contemplation. The dialogue offers valuable, time-tested insight and guidance in the life of the mind and itself embodies the insight. Perhaps we get the word philosophy from this dialogue. At least in it Socrates defines the typ Phaedrus is a beautiful dialogue of Plato. I confess, I listened to the whole thing while laying down mulch for hours with my earbuds. Librivox.org, man. Plato first sets the stage by narrating a scene of playful leisure to set the stage for layered, increasingly deeper contemplation. The dialogue offers valuable, time-tested insight and guidance in the life of the mind and itself embodies the insight. Perhaps we get the word philosophy from this dialogue. At least in it Socrates defines the types of persons who devote themselves to wisdom as "lovers of wisdom." He says they are not themselves wise, as wisdom, he caveats, is an attribute of God alone, but they love wisdom. There is much that is memorable, much that is strikingly relevant. Socrates recounts as an Egyptian tale of ancient wisdom how a bird invented writing and blithely assumed it would assist people's memories. His mythical interlocutor shrewdly responded by saying that often inventors are not the best judges of the effects of their inventions and that writing would in actuality have a deleterious effect on our memory because people would begin to rely on it rather than their memories. He was right. This strikes me as undyingly current, strikingly relevant today. As we continue to experience huge technological innovations such as the Internet, we ought not to be too sanguine and self-blinding in our enthusiasms and enjoyments. After the industrial revolution, etc., etc. we need to learn to dignify our discriminatory powers more so that every reserve about uses of technology is not treated as fanatical, obtuse, weird, a too cumbersome to think about issue. Plato also has brilliant, memorable sections where he likens human beings to two horses drawing a chariot, one strong and toward the upright and good, the other drawing down to the lower and more base. One section I remember vividly describes with this analogy a youth's sexual desire and the competing directions of the horses. Socialization of the sexual impulse. There is also a significance to the whole tone set at the beginning, as I alluded to earlier. It is out of a self permission and a permission among friends for leisure that this contemplative height arises. It is easier with friends. Certain capacities in the mind have to be valued enough by a society and the avant garde of the mind in that society for this to be accomplished. A too pressing 'practicality' does not give due honor to philosophy and doctrine and it ironically becomes the most impractical of all viewed from a distance, a distance it does not allow itself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    E.

    The Phaedrus was not one of the dialogues we read in my Plato seminar in grad school, so I thought I'd finally tackle it. I didn't like it much. I'm guessing that that might be the influence of my particular professor, but I'm not sure. Some of the other goodreads reviews are very well-written and do a nice job of analyzing the dialogue. Many highly recommend it. The dialogue is a conversation between Socrates and Phaedrus out for a walk on a hot summer afternoon. They take The Phaedrus was not one of the dialogues we read in my Plato seminar in grad school, so I thought I'd finally tackle it. I didn't like it much. I'm guessing that that might be the influence of my particular professor, but I'm not sure. Some of the other goodreads reviews are very well-written and do a nice job of analyzing the dialogue. Many highly recommend it. The dialogue is a conversation between Socrates and Phaedrus out for a walk on a hot summer afternoon. They take shelter in a cool spot and discuss love and rhetoric. The dialogue begins playfully and flirtatiously, and I enjoyed the discussions of same-sex love which is often part of the cultural milieu in Plato's dialogues, but is explicitly discussed here. Socrates argues at one point that lovers must be avoided and then turns around and argues the exact opposite, which then leads into the real topic of the dialogue -- rhetoric and how it can be used to argue most anything and to deceive people from the truth. A number of other topics appear, including the immortality of the soul and its make-up and even interesting comments on divine possession, revelation, and religious practice (I wrote an essay on Socrates on this topic in grad school). There is good and important information here for student of Socrates/Plato, however I didn't find it, overall, as engaging (both as literature and philosophical treatise) as many of Plato's other works.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Socrates' last discussion before being executed as recorded by Plato from the perspective of Socrates' former students, Phaedo... The discussion expounds on the afterlife and the soul's immortality to which he presents four arguments: 1. Argument from Opposites - i.e. a perpetual cycle of life and death, when we die we do not stay dead, but come back to life after a time. 2. Theory of Recollection - i.e. learning is actually recollecting what is already known 3. Argument from Affinity Socrates' last discussion before being executed as recorded by Plato from the perspective of Socrates' former students, Phaedo... The discussion expounds on the afterlife and the soul's immortality to which he presents four arguments: 1. Argument from Opposites - i.e. a perpetual cycle of life and death, when we die we do not stay dead, but come back to life after a time. 2. Theory of Recollection - i.e. learning is actually recollecting what is already known 3. Argument from Affinity - i.e. there is a distinction between things which are immaterial, invisible, and immortal such as the soul, and things which are material, visible, and perishable such as the body. Therefore the soul is immortal and survives death. 4. Form of Life - i.e. all things possess qualities which prove that they are part of some unchanging and invisible form. This Form of Life is a property of the soul, therefore the soul is anything but alive.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    What I like about Plato’s dialogues is how accessible they are. Much of Western thought is based on Plato's writings, so you can’t get much more academic than that, but at the same time, Plato isn’t hard. You don’t have to have special skills or been formally trained in philosophy to enjoy and understand Plato. Pheado is one of Plato’s later dialogues so it, probably, represents Plato’s own viewpoints rather than Socrates’. As for the philosophy itself, I like the proofs for the pre-existence of the s What I like about Plato’s dialogues is how accessible they are. Much of Western thought is based on Plato's writings, so you can’t get much more academic than that, but at the same time, Plato isn’t hard. You don’t have to have special skills or been formally trained in philosophy to enjoy and understand Plato. Pheado is one of Plato’s later dialogues so it, probably, represents Plato’s own viewpoints rather than Socrates’. As for the philosophy itself, I like the proofs for the pre-existence of the soul and even the existence the soul after death. Some ideas Plato seems to take for granted and just doesn’t offer any explanation, like re-incarnation. I enjoyed Pheado. I think that Plato's dialogues is a great place to start for someone who has an interest in the origins of western philosophy. It is all about the classics this year: http://lindasclassicschallenge.blogsp...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A very readable and reliable translation from Brann, Kalkavage and Salem. Terms are translated consistently, and the glossary is a useful guide to understanding both the etymology of the words translated and the ways in which Plato uses the terms, as well as related terms. (Explaining in a succinct way the relation and differences between Being [ousia], beings [ta onta], the Forms [eide], and "looks" [idea] is not easy, and here it is necessarily over-simplified, but the glossary entry can be helpful when applied in context.[][],[ta[], A very readable and reliable translation from Brann, Kalkavage and Salem. Terms are translated consistently, and the glossary is a useful guide to understanding both the etymology of the words translated and the ways in which Plato uses the terms, as well as related terms. (Explaining in a succinct way the relation and differences between Being [ousia], beings [ta onta], the Forms [eide], and "looks" [idea] is not easy, and here it is necessarily over-simplified, but the glossary entry can be helpful when applied in context.) The introductory essay is very good as well, and can be read on its own (after having read the dialogue) or as a mini-commentary while reading the dialogue itself. Phaedo is more than just philosophy, so it deserves a translation as mindful of the narrative as it is of the technical aspects. The final scene, in which Socrates dies, is one of the most powerful in western literature and this translation does it justice.

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