23 Aug 2022


Plato's Discourse on the Immortality of the Soul

Format: Chicago

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 1220

Pages: 4

Downloads: 0

The soul is considered an important part of human beings which attracts a lot of attention from the philosophers. The immortality of the soul which is closely tied to the topic of life after death makes headlines in religious, cultural and belief systems of various communities in the world. Philosophers have for a long time considered this topic of the immortality of the soul by giving it different perspectives. For the purpose of properly understanding this topic, the essay will focus on Plato’s discourse on the immortality of the soul from the Phaedo .

Plato’s view on immortality of the soul 

Plato is on record to argue immortality of the soul even after death is a true belief which should be accepted as true. For Plato, he saw the idea of accepting immortality of the soul as a great convenience considering that it is the truth that all human beings should embrace. In his Phaedo , Plato presented four main arguments majorly drawn from Socrates thoughts to support his theory on the immortality of the soul which are still widely accepted in today’s philosophical thought. Socrates used opposites and cycles I his discourse to support his arguments. According to Socrates, everything under the sun has an opposite side, and in cycles, he assumed that things tend to move towards the opposites which end up creating cycles (Plato 23). As such life and death can be considered as opposites as well as cycles to mean that being alive is the exact opposite of being dead and that life contributes to death and as human beings live they are destined to die thus creating a cycle. Consequently, human beings were alive before birth and shall continue living even after death

It’s time to jumpstart your paper!

Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.

Get custom essay

Plato’s Arguments for immortality of the soul 

Plato in his dialogue Phaedo raised four distinct arguments for the immortality of the soul. They include the Theory of Recollection, the Argument from the Opposite, the Final Argument and Argument from Affinity. However Plato did not place equal importance to all these four arguments with the argument from affinity receiving the least of importance as Plato did not consider it is contributing much to the debate concerning the immortality of the soul. In contrast, Plato placed great importance on the Final argument and the theory of recollection which are a part of his theory of forms.

The Theory of Recollection according to Plato establishes that human beings possess non-empirical understanding since the time of conception which suggests that the soul was in existence even before death. This knowledge on the pre- existence of the soul is carried throughout a human life, and this is what guides Plato's discourse on the immortality of the soul. More so this theory of recollection succeeds in showing that the soul was in existence even before birth but does not establish if the soul will continue to exist even after death (Plato 26). The theory of Recollection avers that since learning is a recollection, then the soul must pre-exist in its embodiment to make recollection possible. Also, the knowledge that enables recollection must precede birth which means that even coming to birth there is an essence of living which is in the human soul.

The Affinity Argument according to Plato establishes that immortal and the invisible stuffs are entirely unlike from the mortal and the perceptible things. The soul is immortal and invisible while the body is visible and mortal which mean that both have an affinity for each other (Plato 35). Therefore once human beings die and decay the soul continue to live base on this affinity theory. More so this argument deals with the widespread notion that the soul, on death is destroyed or dispersed making it mortal. To address this perception, Plato distinguished the things that are subject to destruction to those that are indestructible. These two categories according to Plato can be said to be mutually exclusive which means that one exists while the other does not and vice versa. Consequently, according to this argument, souls are not forms but part less, intelligible and imperishable aspects (Plato 36). Thus Plato establishes a conceptual framework which concludes that the soul and the body are different in their kind with one being intelligible and indestructible and the other being perishable and perceptible. Plato, therefore, concludes that the soul is more of intelligible being with the body being perishable and perceptible being (Plato 57). As a result, the soul according to Plato is characterized by both intellectual and cognitive features which tend to regulate the bodily affections and desires if it is a wise soul. This means that a soul is responsible for advising the body on how to behave and the kind of virtues to adapt in specific situations.

The Final Argument on the immortality of the soul establishes that forms which are static entities contribute to all the things in the world since all these things take part in the form of forms. For example according to Plato things that are considered beautiful participate in this Form of Beauty. Additionally, number six contributes in the Form of Even numbers. Consequently, the soul of human beings chip in in the Form of Life which then means that the soul can never die since it is a representation of life (Plato 34). Furthermore the Final Argument according to Plato is the idea that the soul is immortal and Plato considers it to be irrefutable and unquestionable. More so this argument is about establishing the relationship between the eternal and divine aspects of the soul.

The Opposites Argument according to Plato is the fact that forms as are unchanging and eternal in addition to the fact that the soul is the source of life and as such it must not die and is therefore imperishable. On the other hand, the body is mortal meaning that it is subject to physical death which then is the exact opposite of the indestructible soul. More so the human soul is characterized by life whose opposite is death, and as such according to Plato, the soul could only perish if it is separated from the body. Plato further argues that the souls of human beings who have died exist in the underworld which then means that the souls of the living can only come from the dead human beings (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy par. 12). Consequently, all things that are in existence have their opposites which mean that they must come from their direct opposite and not from anywhere else so as to exist; therefore the souls must originate from the bodies. Additionally, the opposites argument assumes that being alive is preceded by and proceeds to be dead therefore forming a cyclic and perpetual cycle of life and death with the immortality soul being at the center of it all (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy par.13). Death, therefore, represents a creature's soul continued existence which then persists throughout the entire period of its separation from the body to later return to inhabit another body after that.

In conclusion, the immortality of the soul is and was a topic of interest for both modern and earlier philosopher excited with the whole question revolving around its relation to the body. Plato who cemented on his teacher's teachings chose to front four arguments so as to support the claim on the immortality of the soul. The four are the Argument from the Opposite, Argument from Affinity, Final Argument, and Theory of recollection. While Argument from the Opposite claim that the soul is imperishable while the body is, the Affinity Argument argues that invisible and immortal things are dissimilar from the mortal and visible things. Consequently, all these cases are intended to assert further Plato’s claim that the soul is mortal and continues living even after the body perishes and decays.

Works Cited

Plato, and G. M. A. Grube. Plato's Phaedo. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1977. Print.

Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. “Ancient Theories of the Soul.” The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) . Stanford University Library of Congress Catalog Data. 2003. Web. 20 Jun. 2017.

Cite this page

Select style:


StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Plato's Discourse on the Immortality of the Soul.


Related essays

We post free essay examples for college on a regular basis. Stay in the know!

17 Sep 2023

Personal Leadership Philosophy

Personal Leadership Philosophy _ Introduction_ My college professor once told me that, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” The above quote by C.S Lewis...

Words: 1773

Pages: 7

Views: 372

17 Sep 2023

Social Contract Theory: Moral and Political Obligations

Social Contract Theory Social Contract theory is a theory which says that one's moral and political obligations rely on an agreement, the contract existing among them in society. Some people hold a belief that we...

Words: 332

Pages: 1

Views: 441

17 Sep 2023

The Tenets of Logical Positivism

Logical positivist has been known to always been known to deny the dependability of metaphysics and traditional philosophy thus arguing that all most of the problems found in philosophy are meaningless and without...

Words: 287

Pages: 1

Views: 75

17 Sep 2023

Moral Behaviour Is Necessary For Happiness

Introduction Ethics is a broad field within the larger field of moral philosophy that aims at distinguishing between good and bad. It sets the standard by which people in a society should behave towards each...

Words: 1940

Pages: 7

Views: 144

17 Sep 2023

Social Contract Theories of Hobbles and Rousseau

The social contract theory is based on the context that in the beginning, human beings coexisted in a system that was nature-driven. The society was at least less oppressive, and policy-oriented legal regimes were...

Words: 816

Pages: 3

Views: 79

17 Sep 2023

Applying Six-Step Model to the Personal Problem

Since I was born until today, my life has been full of decision-making and problem-solving as I attempt to come out with the best solutions. However, sometimes, I realize that most decisions I made are affecting me...

Words: 1428

Pages: 5

Views: 106


Running out of time?

Entrust your assignment to proficient writers and receive TOP-quality paper before the deadline is over.