Free Death Of Socrates Argumentative Essay Sample
Plato’s Apology is one of the foremost works on philosophy that showcase the philosophical thought of those time periods. The background of this dialogue is the trial of Socrates wherein his detractors feel that he should be put to death for not believing in the official Gods believed in by the state and for corrupting the youth. In the particular dialogue under consideration, Socrates attempts to pacify and console his supporters and friends that death may indeed be better than expected. This paper will begin by explaining Socrates’ argument and in doing so will arrive at the conclusion that Socrates’ argument is unsound.
Socrates presents his main argument as follows, “Now being dead is either of two things. For either it is like being nothing and the dead man has no perception of anything, or else, in accordance with the things that are said, it happens to be a sort of change and migration of the soul from the place here to another place.” (Line 40c) Further, in his arguments that death is a blessing he asserts that “And there is no perception but it is like a steepSo if death is something like this it is at least a gain.” (Line 40e) He further quotes in support of his argument, “To converse and to associate with them and to examine them there would be inconceivable happiness. Certainly those there surely do not kill on this account. For those there are happier than those here not only in other things but also in that they are immortal henceforth for the rest of time, at least if the things that are said are in fact true.” (Line 41c)
Through these arguments, Socrates’ argument about death being a positive experience rests on three main premises, namely, 1) Death is like a state of dreamless sleep wherein one does not experience any sensation or, 2) the fact that the soul transmigrates from a certain body and place to another. 3) Further, the third premise is that death is a blessing for himself (and possible a few other righteous people) since both the state of non-existence or the presence of an afterlife give hope to Socrates.
Through the first part of the argument, Socrates feels that death is like a sleep without a dream, which is quite pleasant, thus making death a positive experience. According to him, most of us would wish such an uninterrupted and sound sleep which is dreamless in nature. Since Socrates feels that death is a state of dreamless sleep, he feels that death would be beneficial from that particular viewpoint.
In his second premise, Socrates expects that the movement of the soul post-mortem from one place to another would yield him an opportunity to meet the demigods and the heroes of the past such as Ajax, Palamedes and others. This would also enable him to pose questions to them with regard to events that happened in those time periods so as to give him an insight. The very experience of moving to another place and meeting other enlightened souls lead Socrates to believe that death is a much better state, especially for the righteous people.
Through these arguments, Socrates primarily asserts that, in death, either the dead no longer exist or they continue on to some kind of afterlife. He clarifies this later by making specific references to the various personalities abroad as the people he would be meeting on his last journey. Either ways, he feels that death is a blessing for the righteous, particularly for himself in his present situation. In doing, he implicitly says that the state of non-existence could, in fact, be a blessing, although he cannot really be sure of that. Thus, through these arguments, Socrates feels that death would indeed be a blessing. He, therefore, further says that if death is like a dreamless sleep it is indeed a blessing.
The most serious objection to Socrates’ argument arises from his second premise, namely that of the transmigration of the soul. Socrates says, “If Death were like a journey from here to another place.” (Line 41a) The objection to this argument is quite strong since one cannot say with certainty that one would encounter specific personalities or the demigods during the movement or the passage of the soul from one place to another. Therefore, this concept is one that can be summarily rejected as a concept that has neither any sound basis nor any evidence. As a consequence, this premise definitely fails to prove Socrates’ assertion of death being a blessing.
In such a case, if one needs to defend Socrates’ argument, one must prove that death is indeed not an end and that there is an afterlife which requires a journey and relocation. If one can prove this assertion, Socrates’ second premise undoubtedly could be the truth as well as the other premises that follow. In such a case, it would further follow that death could indeed be a blessing as asserted by Socrates.
As outlined, Socrates’ defense fails on the common ground that one cannot surmise the happenings post one’s death. The soul, even if it transmigrates or change places, does not impart any recollections to the human mind in the present birth due to which the pleasantness or morbidity of death can be assumed in the manner that Socrates believes. Also, Socrates’ assumption that he could meet the demigods or other Greek personalities in the afterlife does not yield any benefit to him since he would not have been able to recollect anything of value should his soul even change places. Therefore, the argument put forth by Socrates is completely unsound and invalid.
In conclusion, although Socrates uses the three premises to convince his followers, one sees the strongest objection to the concept of the soul undertaking a journey after death. The very idea of meeting other personalities or demigods en route to an afterlife is, in itself, a concept that does not have a sound basis. The defense that one might take to defend Socrates’ argument is also unsound since it requires one to prove the relocation or the soul’s journey. However, this is impossible to prove since the soul does not carry with itself any impressions of the past life and neither does one have access to a body of research based experiments that could vouch for and successfully prove this concept. Therefore, this essay firmly concludes that Socrates’ argument is unsound since it cannot be proved.
Plato. Apology, Crito And Phædo Of Socrates. Project Gutenberg, 2004. Web. 29 Jan 2015. (Line 32)
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