"We believe, do we not, that death is the separation of the soul from the body, and that the state of being dead is the state in which the body is separated from the soul and exists alone by itself and the soul is separated from the body and exists alone by itself? Is death anything other than this?" "No, it is this," said he.
"Now, my friend, see if you agree with me; for, if you do, I think we shall get more light on our subject. Do you think a philosopher would be likely to care much about the so-called pleasures, such as eating and drinking?"
"By no means, Socrates," said Simmias.
"How about the pleasure of love?"
"Well, do you think such a man would think much of the other cares of the body- I mean such as the possession of fine clothes and shoes and the other personal adonments? Do you think he would care about them or despise them, except so far as it is necessary to have them?"
"I think the true philosopher would despise them," he replied.
"Altogetherm then, you think that such a man would not devote himself to the body, but would, so far as he was able, turn away from the body and concern himself with the soul?"
"To begin with, then, it is clear that in such matters the philosopher, more than other men, separates the soul from communion with the body?"
"Now certainly most people think that a man who takes no pleasure and has no part in such things doesn't deserve to live, and that one who cares nothing for the pleasures of the body is about as good as dead."
"That is very true."
"Now, how about the acquirement of pure knowledge? Is the body a hindrance or not, if it is made to share in the search for wisdom? What i mean is this: Have the sight and hearing of men any truth in them, or is it true, as the poets are always telling us, that we neither hear nor see anything accurately? And yet if these two physical senses are not accurate or exact, the rest are not likely to be, for they are inferior to these. Do you not think so?"
"Certainly I do," he replied.
"Then," said he, "when does the soul attain to truth? For when it tries to consider anything in company with the body, it is evidently deceived by it."
"In thought, then, if at all, something of the realities becomes clear to it?"
"But it thinks best when none of these things troubles it, neither hearing nor sight, nor pain nor any pleasure, but it is, so far as possible, alone by itself, and takes leave of the body, and avoiding, so far as it can, all association or contact with the body, reaches out toward the reality."
"That is true."
"In this matter also, then, the soul of the philosopher greatly despises the body and avoids it and strives to be alone by itself?"
The reason why philosophers shall not fear death.
"Well, then, this is what we call death, is it not, a release and separation from the body?"
"Exactly so," said he.
"But, as we hold, the true philosophers and they alone are always most eager to release the soul, and just thins- the release and separation of the soul from the body- is their study, is it not?"
"Then, as I said in the beginning, it would be absurd if a man who had been all his life fitting himself to live as nearly in a state of death as he could, should then be disturbed when death came to him. Would it not be absurd?"
If abstractions do exist, our souls must have learned these before we were born. That explains the lyrics from a song by Enigma: There's no teacher, who can teach anything new. He can just help us to remember, things we always knew.
"Then, Simmias," said he, "is this the state of the case? If, as we are always saying, the beautiful exists, and the good, and every essence of that kind, and if we refer all our sensations to these, which we find existed previously and are now ours, and compare our sensations with these, is it not a necessary inference that just as these abstractions exist, so our souls existed before we were born; and if these abstractions do not exist, our argument is of no force? Is this the case, and is it equally certain that provided these things exist our souls also existed before we were born, and that if these do not exist, neither did our souls?"
"Socrates, it seems to me that there is absolutely the same certainty, and our argument comes to the excellent conclusion that our soul existed before we were born, and that the essence of which you speak likewise exists. For there is nothing so clear to me as this, that all such things, the beautiful, the good, and all the others of which you were speaking just now, have a most real existence. And I think the proof is sufficient."
Why souls are immortal.
"Now answer," said he. "What causes the body in which it is to be alive?"
"The soul," he replied.
"Is this always the case?"
"Yes," said he, "of course."
"Then if the soul takes possession of anything it always brings life to it?"
"Certainly," he said.
"Is there anything that is the opposite of life?"
"Yes," said he.
"Now the soul, as we have agreed before, will never admit the opposite of that which it brings with it."
"Decidedly not," said Cebes.
"Then what do we now call that which does not admit the idea of the even?"
"Uneven," said he.
"And those which do not admit justice and music?"
"Unjust," he replied, "and unmusical."
"Well then what do we call that which does not admit death?"
"Deathless or immortal," he said.
"And the soul does not admit death?"
"Then the soul is immortal."
"Very well," said he. "Shall we say then that this is proved?"
"Yes and very satisfactorily, Socrates."