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NMSU PHIL 201G - Commentary

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Module 1.2 CommentaryIn this module, we will consider the soul, its nature and how the soul and the body are related to each other by reading one selection from Pha edo, by Plato. Be sure to read the introduction to the reading in our book for a handy summary of the text. Information about the reading assignment:First, a little about Plato and how this selection is written. Plato was a philosopher in Ancient Greece. You will learn more about his life when you read the Introduction that is before the actual assigned reading in our book. Plato was a student of an older philosopher in Ancient Greece, whose name was Socrates. All of Plato’s writings are told through what are called “dialogues” where Socrates is the main character. The other characters are usually the students of Socrates and young men who walk into the conversation to challenge Socrates on his ideas. When you read this selection, you will be reading a conversation between Socrates and his students. What is this reading about?First, before even talking about this reading, it has to be stated that this reading assumes that humans have a soul and that the soul is housed by the body. This is our ‘axiom’ or proposition that we accept for the purposes of reading this selection from Plato. Now, we can move on to consider the core concepts of the reading. In this reading Socrates is in an Athenian jail, waiting for his sentence of execution to be carried out. His students are hanging out with him, knowing that the conversation they are having with Socrates will be the last time they talk with him. It is a sad scene. Death: As you might imagine, the topic of death is front and center. The students ask Socrates how he is feeling about his own imminent death. Socrates talks about how he, as a philosopher, approaches death. This leads to a discussion on the soul and the body.Now, whenever my students read Plato and Socrates ideas on the soul, they get all wound up in the notion of reincarnation that is discussed in many of his books. Just roll with the conversationthat Socrates is having. They are really talking about the idea that the soul is immortal. This is the main idea of the entire reading. Socrates and his students contemplate three different arguments supporting the idea that the soul is immortal. Keep in mind that Plato and Socrates lived in the historic time before Christianity. How is the conversation is structured?One thing you should know about philosophical writing is that it is written in the form of ‘argumentation.’ That does not mean that the characters are arguing. It means that as Socrates and his students talk, they consider the subject of the conversation in steps that lead them to make a conclusion. So, for each of the three arguments for the immortality of the soul, Socrates and students talk through the steps that take them, logically, to a conclusion. Each stepconsiders a different possible answer to the question they are asking. Again, it might seem tedious, but roll with Socrates and you will see how neat his thinking


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