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The Soul’s Immortality: Selections From “Phaedo” by Plato (vegetarian), Part 2 of 2

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We now continue with readings from “Phaedo” by Plato (vegetarian), wherein Socrates (vegetarian) explains that our understanding of equality is knowledge our souls had before birth.

“‘ […] we were born possessing it, we knew, both before we were born and as soon as we were born, not only the equal and the greater and smaller, but all things of the kind; for our present discussion is not more respecting equality than the beautiful itself, the good, the just, and the holy, and, in one word, respecting everything which we mark with the seal of existence, both in the questions we ask and the answers we give. So that we must necessarily have had a knowledge of all these before we were born. And if, having once had it, we did not constantly forget it, we should always be born with this knowledge, and should always retain it through life. For to know is this, when one has got a knowledge of anything, to retain and not lose it; for do we not call this oblivion, Simmias, the loss of knowledge?’ ‘Assuredly, Socrates,’ he replied.

‘But if, having had it before we were born, we lose it at our birth, and afterward, through exercising the senses about these things, we recover the knowledge which we once before possessed, would not that which we call learning be a recovery of our own knowledge? And in saying that this is to remember, should we not say rightly? For this appeared to be possible, for one having perceived anything, either by seeing or hearing, or employing any other sense, to form an idea of something different from this, which he had forgotten, and with which this was connected by being unlike or like. So that, as I said, one of these two things must follow: either we are all born with this knowledge, and we retain it through life, or those whom we say learn afterward do nothing else than remember, and this learning will be reminiscence.’ ‘Such, certainly, is the case, Socrates.’”

“‘When did our souls receive this knowledge? Not surely, since we were born into the world.’ ‘Assuredly not.’ ‘Before, then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Our souls, therefore, Simmias, existed before they were in a human form, separate from bodies, and possessed intelligence.’”
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Episodul  2 / 2
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