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The beginning of the Phaedo in the oldest surviving medieval manuscript, the Codex Clarkianus written in 895 (Oxford, Bodleian Library , Clarke 39)

The Phaidon ( Greek  Φαίδων Phaedo , Latinized Phaedo ) is in dialogue form authored work of the Greek philosopher Plato . A literary discussion is shown, which is embedded in a framework plot. The philosopher Phaedo von Elis , after whom the dialogue is named, appears as the narrator in the framework story. Like Plato, he is a student of Socrates . He was recently sentenced to death and executed in Athens for asebie (religious crime) and seduction of youth. As an eyewitness to a group of listeners, Phaedo describes the events of the day of death that the condemned spent in prison with friends. The main part of his presentation is the complete rendering of a philosophical discussion that Socrates had. Phaedo then reports on the last actions and statements of the condemned man.

In addition to Phaedo, Socrates' interlocutors are two other of his students, Kebes and Simmias von Thebes . The main theme is the soul : It is about its nature, its relationship to the body it animates, and its presumed fate after death. Socrates tries to make the immortality of the soul plausible. To this end, he puts forward several arguments to support his thesis. He regards the individual soul as indestructible and sees in it the bearer of the knowledge, abilities and memories of man. According to his understanding, the soul inhabits, dominates and moves the body; through its presence it gives it life. At death it separates from him, which causes his disintegration. In the course of the transmigration of souls , it connects one after the other with different bodies. Accordingly, there is no reason to fear death, because death only means the destruction of the respective body, but the person is the soul, which always remains intact. Socrates defends this anthropological model against objections from Simmias and Kebes. In particular, he opposes an alternative model, according to which "soul" is only a name for the harmony of the material elements of the body. If one regards the soul as harmony, one has to assume that it will be destroyed when the body dies and its structure falls apart as a result.

Socrates believed that the fate of the soul after death depends on its behavior during life; optimal is a philosophical way of life as he practiced it himself. This view helps him to have a serene demeanor and a cheerful, carefree death, while the others are deeply saddened and cry.

The direct and indirect aftermath of dialogue in European cultural history was enormous from antiquity to modern times. It has been quoted many times and used in many discussions about possible individual survival after death. On the one hand it offers a philosophical investigation of basic questions of human existence, on the other hand it also belongs to the classical literature of comfort. Since the beginning of its distribution, it has appealed to readers who want to grapple with death, the fear of death and the question of immortality. In addition, together with the dialogues Apology and Crito, he left a lasting mark on the image of the personality of Socrates for posterity. In Plato's portrayal, Socrates appears as an exemplary person who consistently and undeterred realized his ideal of a philosophical way of life until death.

Place, time and circumstances

Bust of Socrates (1st century, Louvre , Paris)

The framework story takes place in the city of Phleius in the northeast of the Peloponnese peninsula . It appears that Socrates was executed a few months ago. In Athens, where Socrates lived and died, Phaedo was one of his disciples. After the death of his teacher he has no reason to stay in Athens anymore. Apparently he is now returning to his hometown of Elis in the northwest of the Peloponnese. He stops in Phleius, which is on his way. There he visits a group of Pythagoreans who share in the fate of Socrates and whose spokesman is Echekrates . The trial and the execution have already been heard in Phleius, but no further details are known. The group is eager to learn details. Phaedo is happy to respond to this request.

The death sentence was passed in the spring of 399 BC. Executed. Since some time has elapsed up to the framework story, Phaidon's stay in Phleius has to be set in the second half of Socrates' year of death. The events, the course of which Phaedo describes in detail, took place in the presence of a group of friends of the condemned man in the Athens prison. Socrates had been imprisoned there since his trial. The location of the prison cannot be determined with certainty. It was probably located near the Heliaia court , according to excavation results, probably about 100 meters southwest of this building, just outside the area of ​​the agora .

Phaedo’s list of the partly native, partly foreign friends and pupils of Socrates at the beginning of the dialogue is interesting in terms of the history of philosophy. He names Socratics who were present at the execution and who were prevented for various reasons, pointing out that his list of locals is not exhaustive.

The participants

All the named participants in the framework discussion and the philosophical discussion really lived, their existence is also attested outside of Plato's works. However, it must be expected that Plato, as a writer, made generous use of his literary creative freedom, which is demonstrably the case in other dialogues. Although many details seem realistic and correct, the Phaedo cannot be used as a detailed account of the last hours of Socrates. Incidentally, it is mentioned in the dialogue that Plato was not among those present even on the day of execution, but was absent due to illness. Accordingly, he was not an eyewitness, but only secondhand informed about the events.

The philosophical discussion, which makes up by far the largest part of Phaedo , is conducted by Socrates with Phaedo, Simmias, and Kebes; Another person present, who is not named, intervenes briefly. The other friends just listen in silence. As in most of the dialogues in which he appears, Socrates is the dominant figure. He directs the conversation, contributes the essential considerations and arguments and invalidates objections. His unshakable serenity and serenity contrasts with the dismay and pain of his friends and students. As usual, he focuses his attention on the philosophical search for truth. While the others are gripped by misery, he calmly and carefully carries out his last actions. Here Plato draws an impressive, lifelike picture of his revered teacher Socrates, which in its basic features may be truthful. The views and arguments that he puts into the mouth of his dialogue figure must not, however, simply be equated with those of the historical Socrates. This is already evident from the references to Plato's doctrine of ideas , which did not belong to the ideas of historical Socrates.

With regard to the possibility of being able to recognize metaphysical truth by rational means , Socrates in Phaedo is optimistic. He considers a general epistemological pessimism to be unfounded and fatal. He is firmly convinced of the correctness of his view of the nature of the soul, but he also has a lot of understanding for the doubts of his interlocutors. He emphasizes the principle that one should not rush to decide on a view, even if it makes sense, but only after carefully examining the relevant arguments and objections.

The reporter and participant in the dialogue, Phaedo, is an ardent supporter and admirer of Socrates, whom he calls his friend. For him there is nothing more enjoyable than conversations that remind him of his deceased teacher. At the time of the dialogue, he appears to be a young man.

The historical Phaedo was a distinguished Peloponnesian from Elis. When he witnessed the execution of his teacher, the Peloponnesian War , in which Athens and Sparta were the main opponents, had only been a few years ago. Elis was one of the hostile states with Athens, but had also waged war against Sparta. Phaedo is said to have been taken prisoner and then sold to Athens as a slave. There he was supposedly ransomed at the instigation of Socrates. The credibility of this information is controversial. In any case, he joined the famous philosopher and stayed in his circle to the end. After the death of his teacher, he returned to his hometown and founded a philosophy school there. Like Plato, he wrote philosophical dialogues. His works have not been preserved.

Echekrates, who only appears in the framework story, shares Phaedo’s deep admiration for Socrates. He therefore takes a lively interest in the fate of the convicted person and attaches great importance to finding out everything that has happened in Athens. However, his interest in Socrates is based only on personal admiration, not on agreement of philosophical convictions. He has not adopted the assumption that the soul is immortal. Rather, he tends strongly to the rival theory of harmony, according to which the soul is not an independently existing being, but only the harmony between the components of the body and is therefore transient.

The historical Echekrates was rooted in the Pythagorean tradition. He is said to have been a pupil of the Pythagorean Philolaos . The Pythagoreans, followers of the doctrine of the philosopher Pythagoras , were in the 5th century BC. In their southern Italian home region, the Greek settled " Magna Graecia ", involved in political disputes in which they lost. They were then persecuted. Some of them fled to Greece. There Phleius was one of the places where they settled in groups. Echekrates was apparently one of these refugees or their descendants. Cicero narrates that Echekrates met Plato in Lokroi , a town in Calabria , when he was on a trip there.

Kebes and Simmias play the main roles in the dialogue alongside Socrates. They are referred to as young men and are eager to discuss. Both hail from Thebes , where they were in contact with Philolaus and perhaps were his pupils before coming to Athens and joining Socrates. It is unclear whether, under the influence of Philolaus, they at least temporarily professed Pythagoreanism. Plato also mentions them in the Crito dialogue . There they appear as supporters of a plan to persuade the convicted and imprisoned Socrates to escape from prison and to enable him to escape by bribing the prison guards. Simmias is apparently wealthy. The two Thebans view the immortality hypothesis with skepticism. They object to Socrates' arguments and only want to be convinced by evidence. Simmias considers the explanation of the soul as ephemeral harmony. He is more gullible than Kebes and judges prematurely. Kebes is careful and thorough in the philosophical investigation, he demands solid justifications and is difficult to convince.

The contemporary historian Xenophon also names Simmias and Kebes among Socrates' confidants; it was because of him that they left their homeland and came to Athens.

A marginal figure in Phaedo is Crito , a friend and contemporary of Socrates, whom Plato also allows to appear in other dialogues. Crito does not take part in the philosophical debate, but only speaks on practical questions. He takes care of the settlement of Socrates' personal affairs. In doing so, he shows that he does not understand the consequences of philosophical insight for the practice of living and dying.

The historical Crito was a wealthy Athenian who, like Socrates, came from the Demos Alopeke . When Socrates was charged, Crito offered in vain to vouch for the payment of a fine if a fine was imposed. After the death sentence, he was ready to guarantee that Socrates would not flee. He wanted to spare his friend the prison stay, but this proposal was also rejected by the court.

Socrates' wife Xanthippe is also a historical figure . In the Phaedo she is with her husband on the morning of the execution day before the friends enter, but only has a brief word. She cries and complains and is taken away at Socrates' request. Therefore she is not present in the philosophical discussion. Before the execution, she apparently comes again with her three children and receives instructions from her husband, but is then sent away so that she does not see his death. Socrates regards Xanthippus' presence as disturbing. His attention goes to his friends, who, unlike his wife, share his interests and are allowed to stay with him until the end.


The framework and the introduction to Phaedo’s report

The conversation begins abruptly with the Echekrates' question as to whether Phaedo was present on the day Socrates died or whether he only reported secondhand. Phaedo assures that he was there as an eyewitness, as were a number of other friends of the convict. He likes to tell you all the details, because nothing delights him as much as the memory of his teacher. First he mentions the names of those present at the time, as far as he remembers them, then he begins his report.

The friends used to visit the prisoner every day and spend most of the day with him. They also gathered there on the day of death. When they arrived, his wife Xanthippe and his son were already with him. Since she whined loudly, she was taken away. Kebes was astonished that Socrates had now started to poetry at the end of his life. Socrates justified this with a frequently recurring dream in which he had been asked to be active musically. Then the conversation turned to dealing with death. Phaedo describes the course of this discussion in detail below.

The philosophical attitude towards death

Socrates claims that a reasonable person will feel the need to follow him where he will soon be leaving. From a philosophical point of view, death appears to him to be something worth striving for. But he rejects the consequence of laying hands on himself. This attitude seems absurd: death should be a blessing that one should not do to oneself; rather, one has to wait until it is given to one from outside. Socrates justifies this with the assumption that as a person one is on a “watch” (phrourá) , that is, one is at a post that one cannot arbitrarily leave. That is an important thought, if not easy to grasp. One can imagine humanity as a herd that is guarded by the gods like a herd of animals by the shepherd. One should not move away from the herd willfully, but only when a deity decreed it.

Here Kebes and Simmias object. Their counter-argument is: If one considers humanity to be a flock in the care of benevolent gods, then there is no apparent reason why one should wish to end this happy state. On the contrary: Instead of wanting to withdraw from the care of the wise shepherds, one should strive to remain under their control for as long as possible, i.e. to live as long as possible. Running away from something good is unreasonable. Socrates counters this with his expectation that he will also meet good and wise gods in the realm of the dead . He also hopes to meet other deceased who are better than his earthly contemporaries. As a philosopher, one looks forward to death with expectation, because one can trust that there will be more advantageous conditions of existence in the hereafter . Socrates is happy to respond to the skeptical Simmias' wish that he should justify his confidence.

Death as the liberation of the soul

There is agreement that death is to be defined as the separation of the soul from the body and that the philosopher's interest is exclusively the soul and its well-being. He cares no more about the body than necessary. Therefore, physical pleasures or jewelry and elegant clothing mean nothing to him. In contrast to all other people, the philosophers strive to detach the soul from dealing with the body as much as possible, because they know that fellowship with it does not benefit the soul, but confuses and harms it. The body contributes nothing to knowledge, it even hinders it; the senses are unreliable, they deceive the soul. In addition, the highest values ​​of the philosopher, good and justice , do not belong to the sensually perceptible things. Therefore one cannot find access to them through the physical organs, rather they are only accessible to pure thinking. But thinking is an activity of the soul in which sensory impressions only distract and disturb. The body diverts the soul's attention from the pursuit of wisdom and towards innumerable trivialities. The desires that arise under his influence lead to greed and thus to riots and wars. A soul that gives in to this suction becomes enslaved and must serve the body. Therefore the soul, which strives for insight, can only achieve its goal if it withdraws as far as possible from the material entanglement and concentrates entirely on itself and its purely spiritual objects of knowledge. The secretion from the body is only possible to a limited extent during human life; it is only fully carried out with death. Hence death is a most desirable liberation and it would be ridiculous for a philosopher to oppose it. Lovers of the body, money and fame do not develop real, but only apparent virtues . Those who allow themselves to be seduced by low desires, which include a lust for fame, can not really achieve virtues such as bravery and prudence . He only appears to act bravely or prudently when he renounces certain lusts in order to obtain other, equally dubious pleasures to which stronger desires urge him.

The discussants agree on the principles of the philosophical way of life, but Kebes objects that the continued existence of the soul should not be taken for granted. It could be that it perishes with the body, in that when it leaves it, it immediately disperses like a breath or smoke. So it must be shown that after separation from the body it persists and retains its strength and insight. Socrates responds with a thorough effort to make the immortality of the soul plausible.

The circular argument for immortality

The first argument of Socrates is the "cyclical argument". It is based on the observation that all individual things take part in a cycle of becoming and passing away, alternately assuming opposite properties. A property is expressed when the opposite disappears. When something gets bigger, it transforms from something that was smaller; when shrinkage occurs, something previously larger becomes smaller. It is the same with the stronger and the weaker, the slower and the faster, the more just and the more unjust and the better and the worse. Such an opposing pair are wakefulness and sleeping; the associated processes of becoming are waking up and falling asleep. Hence the assumption that this is also the case with the contrast between the living and the deceased. This means that not only the dead arise from the living, but also the living from the dead. According to this, the souls of the dead must be in a place from which they later return to life. Socrates thus refers to the model of the transmigration of souls: the soul separates itself from the body at death in order to later enter another body and thus continue the cycle of life and death. If there were no such cycle, but only the progress of all living beings to death, then nature would not be balanced, but rather paralyzed on one side. Without the resurrection, the return of the souls of the dead, the number of the living would have to steadily decrease. Then the dying processes would inevitably cause an extinction of all life.

The argument of remembrance

Kebes recalls an aspect relevant here, to which Socrates has often drawn attention: the hypothesis that all learning processes are nothing other than memory processes. According to this, learning is based on the fact that the soul is reminded of something that it already knew before entering its current body ( anamnesis concept). All the knowledge she can ever acquire was in her before she was born. It was forgotten when the soul came into the body, but an external impulse can call it back into its consciousness and thus make it accessible again. This presupposes that the soul already exists and has reason before the formation of the body . Thus it comes to an independent existence. As a justification, Kebes points to observations that suggest such an interpretation of the learning processes. By this he means processes like the experiment described in Dialog Menon , which is supposed to prove the anamnesis (remembrance) when solving a geometrical problem.

In addition, there is the ability of the soul not only to store memories, but also to establish various connections between the contents of the memory. These links do not result directly from the individual memories, but represent independent products of the activity of the soul. They do not presuppose that the linked contents are similar, rather it can be any kind of context. For example, when you look at an object, you remember its owner. This ability of the soul also points to something in it that does not come from the sensory world, but that it brings with it as potential.

Another consideration of Socrates relates to the basis of the conceptual connection of similar contents. From birth, humans evaluate the information that their sensory organs transmit to them. It does this by comparing observations. He is only able to do this because he already has the knowledge that things can be the same, similar or different. He must have known from the beginning, even before he started comparing, that there is equality and inequality, and have had a criterion by which to determine the extent of a similarity. These are knowledge contents that are not given in the individual sensory perceptions and therefore cannot be taken directly from them. The human being cannot have gained access to such abstract facts exclusively from the activity of his sense organs. There must be another reason for this, and that can only be the memory of prenatal knowledge of purely spiritual facts. Thus the soul not only existed before the body, but at that time already possessed a fundamental insight which it owes to no physical functions.

Simmias and Kebes find these explanations plausible, but they object that they do not yet provide evidence of immortality. From a proof of the pre-existence of the soul, of its existence before the formation of the body, it does not necessarily follow that it survives death intact. The alternative hypothesis that it atomizes at death remains as a possibility.

The argument of kinship with the immortal

Another argument of Socrates for the continued existence of the soul is based on its relationship with the immortal ("affinity argument"). To find out whether something can be resolved or not, one has to examine the nature of that object. Something can only be soluble if it consists of components into which it can be broken down. That which is inherently unassembled cannot be divisible either, since it has no parts into which it could fall apart. If something is put together, it is fundamentally changeable, since a change in its composition is possible. In fact, such changes always occur in material circumstances. It is the characteristic of all things that can be perceived by the senses to be composed of individual elements that vary spatially and temporally. Components and properties are added or removed. It is different with the simple and unified, which has no parts and no opposites, but is always only identical with itself. Such an entity is not subject to any changes, it is indestructible. Such are the “ ideas ”, such as “beautiful itself”, that is, the “idea of ​​the beautiful” in the sense of the Platonic doctrine of ideas . According to this doctrine, to which Plato's Socrates refers here, the idea of ​​the beautiful is an objective, independently existing metaphysical reality. It is the archetype that gives all beautiful objects their beauty, but is not exposed to any influence and always remains the same. It exists forever in its absolute perfection that can neither increase nor decrease.

The material objects with their incessant changes have a confusing effect on the soul, but if it turns to the everlasting ideas, it is able to create spiritual order. From this it can be seen that it itself must have a quality which corresponds to that of the ideas and which draws them to the world of ideas. Thanks to its relationship with immaterial objects, the soul gains insight into their nature as soon as it is not distracted but on its own. Obviously, their own nature resembles that of the purely spiritual and divine with regard to two main characteristics: First, like ideas, it belongs to the realm of the invisible, which can only be grasped spiritually. Second, it is naturally called to rule the body; in this she resembles the immortal gods, for rulership is due to the divine, service to the mortal. Therefore the assumption is plausible that the soul also has indestructibility in common with the spiritual-divine world. If it were perishable like the body, it could not rise above the sphere of the perishable, but would be at home there and would only be active within the limits of this area. All of this indicates that the soul does not crumble at death, but is immortal.

The soul as the creator of its destiny

Conjectures about the fate of the soul after the death of the body can be derived from the considerations put forward by Socrates. The human soul is free to turn to the body and its irrational needs or to the spiritual world, in which reason rules, as it sees fit. By focusing on certain areas and not on others, it creates its own conditions of existence in earthly life and then also after its end. If it allows itself to be captivated by bodily desires, it cannot move to the divine sphere even after separation from the body soar up where it would be free from all human evils. Rather, she remains depressed and clumsy, wandering around the earth and looking for a new body that suits her condition. In doing so, it can sink into animal forms of existence. Only the philosopher is freed from the compulsion to be born again, who has already taken care of the complete purification of the soul during his lifetime. After death he is granted an existence in the circle of the gods. For this reason the philosopher refuses bodily desires and does not strive for material possessions, power and fame. He is aware that the body is a prison for the soul. He distrusts sensory perception and relies only on the knowledge that the soul receives when it focuses on the spiritual, separated from everything external. The philosopher avoids violent emotional shocks associated with intense pleasure or pain, great fear or strong desire. Because he knows: Such stimuli bind the soul to the material, they literally nail them to the body by making the material triggers of the affects appear as the most obvious and real, and thus lead them on a catastrophic wrong path. As the philosopher comes to inner peace and aligns himself with reason in everything, contemplates the real and the divine and nourishes himself from it, he properly prepares himself for death and a blissful existence. His soul will then be free from fear of annihilation.

Objections to the immortality hypothesis

Kebes and Simmias are impressed by Socrates' considerations, but their deep doubts about the conclusiveness of the argument persist. Socrates admitted on his own initiative the incompleteness and vulnerability of his remarks and asks the two friends to express their opinion. Thereupon they acknowledge their skepticism. They hesitate, however, to raise their objections, because they do not want to grieve Socrates with additional unpleasant thoughts in view of his “current misfortune”.

In order to dispel such concerns, Socrates tries again to make them understand that from his point of view there can be no question of a misfortune. He illustrates this with the well-known myth of the swan song , which he tells in his own version. The swans are sacred to the god Apollon , the bestowal of prophetic gifts. From him they received the ability to foresee. They foresee their own death and already know that afterwards they will come to Apollo, whose servants they are. When their life draws to a close, swans intone a beautiful song in anticipation of what is to come. But people don't understand that. Since they regard death as something terrible, they believe that it is a farewell song, a lament that is sung out of pain. In doing so, they do not pay attention to the fact that no bird sings when it is feeling bad, but that its song is always an expression of joy. Socrates compares himself to the swans. He also thinks he is holy to Apollo and owes him the gift of insight. That is why the confidence with which he leaves life is no less than that of the swans. No objection can deter him.

Simmias objects to this that even if something is invisible, incorporeal and extremely beautiful and divine, it does not necessarily have to be imperishable. He explains this using the lyre as an example . According to Simmias, the lyre with its strings is a material, composite object like the human body; Its harmonious mood, however, is immaterial and represents something wonderful and divine. If one follows Socrates' argument that this is indestructible to the divine and imperishable relatives, one must assume that the mood of the lyre persists even if the material instrument is destroyed . But that could not be the case, since the tuning of an instrument is based on a certain ratio of its material components. This applies analogously to the soul, although it is the most divine. If one understands it as the harmonious arrangement of the components of the body, one must conclude that this harmony comes to an end with the dissolution of the body.

The objection of Kebes is of a different kind. It is true that he believes that the soul existed before the body, that it is stronger than it and therefore outlasts it, but that it does not prove its fundamental indestructibility. Even if one assumes numerous rebirths, it cannot be ruled out that the soul may be long-lived, but ultimately transient and perish at some point.

After this explanation all listeners are upset. The evidential value of the arguments put forward appears to them inadequate, and what is more, they fear that it is fundamentally impossible to clarify the question of immortality with reasonable deliberations and to gain certainty. This raises a fundamental doubt about the ability of the mind to recognize truth as such in this existential question and to arrive at secure knowledge.

At this point, Echekrates interrupts Phaedo’s report in the framework plot. The interpretation of the soul as harmony between the body parts has long been known to him and he finds it convincing. He therefore fully understands the doubts of the skeptics and believes that Socrates' argument has been invalidated. He also shares the fear that all efforts of the mind are useless because a good counter-argument can be found for every good argument. The seeker of truth is thus torn back and forth and generally loses confidence in the conclusiveness of arguments. Echekrates misses a general criterion for the quality of justifications. On the other hand, Phaedo assures that Socrates was not only able to solve the problem competently, but also sensitively and with a lot of understanding for the confused. Never before had Socrates struck him, Phaedo, as admirable as he did when he mastered this challenge.

Epistemological considerations

Plato now lets Socrates continue his investigation in dialogue with Phaedo. Socrates warns of the danger of becoming an enemy of arguments, just as one becomes a misanthropist . Anyone who has often carelessly placed their trust in bad people and was then betrayed by them will come to the conclusion that no one is good and reliable. Likewise, a debater could end up with arguments that initially impressed him and which later prove to be inconclusive: he would draw the conclusion that despite all efforts of the intellect, one could not obtain reliable knowledge. In both cases, the error lies in locating the error in external circumstances instead of blaming oneself - one's own ignorance. What is needed is an impartial, critical and self-critical attitude with which one approaches the careful examination of the arguments. One shouldn't get carried away by the eagerness to convince others. Nor should one be blinded by the authority of a philosopher, because even a Socrates could be wrong. Anyone who has impartiality and a love of truth and does not shy away from the necessary effort is well able to check the validity of claims. Socrates now wants to demonstrate this.

Objections to the interpretation of the soul as harmony

Socrates tries to refute the harmony theory of Simmias with three counter-arguments. With the first, he shows a contradiction: Simmias and Kebes have already declared the assumption that the soul has knowledge that is independent of sensory perception in a prenatal existence. But this is incompatible with an interpretation of the soul that reduces it to a mere structural feature of the body. The immortality hypothesis has been substantiated, the harmony theory, however, is only a conjecture, for which nothing concrete has yet been put forward. The second argument of Socrates is: The harmony theory says that the soul is nothing other than harmony of the components of the body. According to this definition, every ensouled being should be in harmony at all times. In reality, however, there is certainly resentment in the form of irrationality and viciousness. If the invigorating principle were to be equated with harmony, there would be no inharmonious, bad people. The third objection to the harmony theory arises from the fact that there are conflicts between body and soul. If the soul were nothing but a certain relationship between the constituent parts of the body, it would be unable to take an independent posture and to turn against the physical impulses. The human being would thus be forced to always obey these impulses. But this is not the case because there is self-control.

The "first sea voyage" of Socrates

Then Socrates goes into the train of thought of Kebes, going back a long way. He tells that in his youth he dealt intensively with the teachings of the natural philosophers , because he hoped to find the causes of all phenomena, the reasons for all arising and ceasing in this way. This zealous effort was his "first sea voyage" in his search for an understanding of the world order. In doing so, however, he experienced a serious disappointment. He did not gain insight into the logic of the reasons from which the natural conditions are to be derived, but was only confused. He placed particular hope in a treatise by Anaxagoras on nature, because this natural philosopher taught that reason is paramount and the cause of everything. Socrates liked this rational approach very much. On reading it, however, he had to find sobering that Anaxagoras made no attempt at all to philosophically grasp the order of the cosmos and to present its causalities. Anaxagoras did not explain the principles according to which world reason defines the natural conditions and combines them into a whole and determines the conditions of existence of things. Rather, he only tried to trace individual physical facts back to physical causes. Socrates likened this to an attempt to trace back the reasons for which someone performs an action to the anatomical nature of the organs of the body that are set in motion when the action is performed. One could try, for example, to look for the basis of the current philosophical discussion in the acoustics of speaking. The first sea voyage of Socrates failed because of the unsuitability of such an approach.

The "second voyage"

Socrates wanted a teacher who would be able to reveal to him the order of nature. When, in spite of his best efforts, he couldn't find one, he went looking for it alone. He calls this new attempt, which he is now talking about, his "second voyage". Unlike the older natural philosophers, the “ pre-Socratics ”, he did not proceed empirically from the study of the causalities that come into consideration in the interlinking of natural processes. Rather, through pure reflection, he was looking for a superordinate cause that underlies the laws of nature and the nature of the individual material phenomena. He found this cause in the metaphysical realm of ideas, and so he developed the theory of ideas. By her he means that he has gained solid ground and achieved the highest possible level of security. Nothing is as certain to him as the truth of the statement that the perceivable properties are based on ideas that exist independently as metaphysical givens and give the individual objects the properties in question. For example, all beautiful things are beautiful because “the beautiful”, the idea of ​​beauty, gives them beauty. The same applies to all other properties, both the visible and “great” as well as the only mentally recognizable such as “good”. Its origin is always the relevant idea.

In the world of appearances, properties are relative. Thus Simmias is great compared to Socrates, but small compared to Phaedo; it is not simply great, but carries both size and smallness in itself. But size itself, the idea of ​​size, cannot be mixed with smallness; it cannot be “small and large” like an individual object. Since it is exclusively perfect greatness, it does not tolerate anything small in itself. In the individual things, too, size cannot get along with its opposite. When something grows, smallness disappears or perishes, and when something shrinks, size retreats or is eliminated. For the bearer of the opposites, the individual object, a change takes place in such a way that one of its properties becomes the opposite, but the opposites themselves never absorb anything that is contrary to their nature. Nothing small can emerge from size and nothing great from smallness, but one displaces the other. This applies to all opposing opposites. In addition, certain bearers of properties are so firmly bound up with them that they can never give them up and replace them with the opposite. For example, there is no warm snow and no cold fire. Likewise, the number three can never become even. When such a characteristic bearer approaches and, as it were, occupies something, this must be done in such a way that what is occupied takes on its characteristics and cannot absorb any contrary characteristic as long as it is occupied. If, for example, a set assumes the threefold, it inevitably has to assume the property "odd number of elements" and exclude evenness.

It is the same with the soul. It is the principle of life, the factor that brings life into the body. Life and death are opposites. Hence the soul cannot absorb death any more than the three can absorb straightness. When the cold attacks a warm object, the heat has to give way there, but it does not cool itself. Likewise, when death attacks an animated body, the soul has to leave it, but it does not absorb anything of death itself, but only withdraws and gets away safely. Animate can die, just as warm can cool, but the principle of life does not die.

Kebes is convinced by this argument. Simmias doesn't know anything against it either, but remains cautious. He is aware of the weakness of the human mind and therefore leaves the possibility of error open. Socrates approves of his position and encourages him to investigate further.

Consequences for the way of life

Having made his position plausible, Socrates turns to the practical implications of immortality. If a person's decisions have consequences not only for the duration of his life, but for an immeasurable future that lies ahead of the soul, then his deeds acquire a weight that would by no means apply to them if their effects were limited to the short duration of his earthly existence. The consequences of neglecting the immortal soul must be terrible if the soul takes the wickedness that it has acquired during its stay in the body with it into its afterlife. From this it is evident the tremendous importance of philosophical concern for the well-being of the soul. It is only against this background that it becomes fully understandable why the philosopher incessantly strives to become as good as possible.

To illustrate this, Socrates concludes with a myth. According to this, every soul has a guardian spirit (“demon”) who accompanies them during their lifetime and brings them into the realm of the dead, Hades , after the death of the body . There she receives a suitable place of residence. She is later brought back to earth by another guide.

In this context, Socrates describes his conception of the nature of the earth, emphasizing that it is hypothetical and deviates considerably from current worldviews. According to his model, the globe floats in the middle of the sky. It does not have to be held by anything, since it is in a stable state of equilibrium and its surroundings are uniform; nothing pulls them one way or the other. The earth is huge, only a small part of it is known to the inhabitants of the Mediterranean region. It is surrounded by the atmosphere. Humans relate to the atmosphere in the same way as a living being on the sea floor does to the sea that is above it. They think they see the sky, but in reality their vision is clouded by the air, like that of a sea creature through the water above. Only when it is possible to fly up to the outer edge of the air can one perceive the heavenly reality. The air envelope is surrounded by another envelope, the ether . The ether is related to the air like the air to the water. It is home to numerous living beings who lead far happier lives there than the inhabitants of the earth's surface. Likewise, the area below the surface of the earth is an inhabited world of its own, with numerous corridors and huge rivers flowing through it. There are also streams of fire and mud. Socrates describes in detail the system of the four main rivers of the underworld. The various regions there are the abodes of the souls of wrongdoers who, according to their deeds, suffer bad things.

In conclusion, Socrates stresses that it would be unreasonable to regard details of such a myth as facts. The essential principle is that the fate of the soul after death depends on its behavior during earthly life, on its good and bad deeds. One should hold on to this with confidence, as it is a reasonable assumption. Mythical descriptions that you have in mind are helpful.

The death of Socrates

Statue of the god Asclepius (Roman copy of a Greek original from the 5th century BC, Museo Chiaramonti , Vatican)

Socrates then begins preparations for the execution. This is done in Athens in the traditional way, in that the convict empties the " hemlock cup", that is, takes a drink made from the juice of the poisonous hemlock , which causes paralysis to rise from the legs with cold and numbness. Socrates bathes beforehand in order not to cause the women any unnecessary trouble washing the corpse. His friend Crito asks him what he wants for the funeral. Socrates takes this as an opportunity to emphasize once again that the person is nothing other than the soul. Therefore, there is no reason to worry about the whereabouts of the corpse. While Socrates carries out his last deeds in complete calm, the friends cannot hold back their tears. The last words of the dying man are addressed to Crito. He reminds the friend of an undertaking they have made to offer a rooster to the god of healing, Asclepius . Crito should not forget this, since they owe this sacrifice to God.

Phaedo ends his story by stating that Socrates was the best, most reasonable and just of all people he had ever known.

The historical course of the execution

Plato's detailed account of the execution of Socrates is literary. According to the view traditionally dominating in research, it is heavily embellished. According to this interpretation, it is an idealized representation of a worthy, exemplary philosophical death, which serves to heroize. The description of the effects of the herbal poison Coniin is correct in the main, but repulsive aspects are concealed. The process of dying is accompanied by cramps and shortness of breath, and finally death by asphyxiation occurs. These unsightly side effects are Phaidon indicated very carefully. Phaedo reports that Socrates covered his face. If this is the case, then the philosopher wanted to spare his friends the sight of the convulsive distortion of facial features. The casual mention of a twitch in the body is arguably a subtle reference to the convulsions. The portrayal of the paralysis slowly rising in the body from below, the side effect of which is numbness, is an essential aspect of the embellished portrayal; it should illustrate the calm escape of the soul from the body.

In a detailed study published in 2002, Enid Bloch contradicted the widespread assumption that the process could not have taken place in the manner described. She considers Plato's account to be a credible report that correctly gives the details of the poisoning.

Interpretation and philosophical content

The philosophical core statements of the Phaedo are the immortality hypothesis and the assumptions based on it about the relationship between body and soul, about death and about the meaning of life. With the immortality of the soul, Socrates bases his conviction that death is not an evil, but is desirable as the liberation of the soul from the body and represents the real goal of life. In this order of values, philosophy, which is understood as preparation for death, plays a key role. Only a philosophical life can free man from the misery of his earthly existence. This gives philosophy a religious function for Socrates.

The concept of the soul and the hereafter

The conception of the soul and the afterlife of Plato's Socrates in the Phaedo shows a striking closeness to the ideas of the Orphics and the Pythagoreans. Plato dealt with these currents, whose basic ideas and main concerns he shared. He tried hard to find a sound argumentative justification of the religious-philosophical concepts that connect Platonism with Pythagoreanism and Orphicism. These include immortality and the transmigration of souls and, above all, the thought of the soul trapped in the body in need of redemption. In his theory of ideas, Plato believed that he had found the means with which this view of the world and of man could be put on a solid philosophical basis.

One problem is the presentation of Plato's theory of the soul in the various dialogues. In the Phaedo , Socrates characterizes the soul as unitary and unassembled. In the dialogue Politeia the soul is divided into three parts, whereby its irrational realm is very different from the rational. Some researchers see a contrast in this, which shows a change in Plato's teaching; the simple model of Phaedo is the older one, which he later replaced by a more differentiated and realistic one. Others consider the two models to be compatible if interpreted correctly. The question, which has been answered differently in research, also plays a role here, whether in the Phaedo only the soul or the body is the subject of motivational states.

The assessment of lust and asceticism

In addition to the doctrine of the soul, ethics play a central role in dialogue. For Plato, philosophy is not just an intellectual activity, but a way of life. Its principles permeate and shape all areas of the philosopher's life. Philosophical life is directed towards death as its goal and its completion. Through the incessant purification of the soul, the philosopher prepares for death. This orientation of the Platonic philosophy is in Phaedon particularly thoroughly worked out and illustrated by means of the model Socrates.

The assessments of the ethical consequences of the Phaidon outlined anthropology and afterlife diverge greatly; sometimes they are diametrically opposed to each other. Conspicuous features of the image of man propagated in the dialogue are the sharp emphasis on the contrast between body and soul, the emphatic distancing from bodily affects and the positive attitude towards death. Some interpreters conclude from this that the demand for strict asceticism can be derived from the remarks made by Plato's Socrates . Whether or to what extent this corresponds to Plato's actual intention is controversial. The spectrum of research opinions ranges from the view that Plato takes a radically anti-pleasure attitude to the view that the life plan advocated in the Phaedo actually represents a special form of hedonism . In recent research moderate, differentiated interpretations dominate. According to this interpretation, Plato shows himself in the Phaedo neither as a hedonist nor as a fundamental despiser of pleasure. Rather, he regards pleasure as a conditioned good, the evaluation of which he makes dependent on the role it plays in philosophical life and how it affects its goal.

The reasoning for the immortality hypothesis

Whether or to what extent the argument of Plato's Socrates for the immortality hypothesis is formally correct and actually fulfills its purpose is controversial in the philosophical literature and is discussed in numerous studies. In most cases, the conclusiveness of the individual arguments is disputed in a detailed analysis. The problem of evidence raised in the dialogue itself has given rise to different interpretations of the author's intentions. One of them is that Socrates' arguments are inconclusive and that he himself indicates that he is aware of this fact. Plato wanted to show that immortality could not be proven and that it was still possible to go to death in an exemplary philosophical way. The reader is asked to critically understand the lines of thought and deal with the weaknesses of the arguments. The author provides assistance with the relevant information. In this way, the reader should be led to the insight that there are only well-founded assumptions with regard to immortality and no argumentatively gained certainty. It follows from this that people must bear the risk of basing their lifestyle on unproven beliefs. A number of scholars - in the German-speaking area in particular Theodor Ebert and Ernst Heitsch - have spoken out in favor of this point of view and explained their position in detail. Ludwig CH Chen also assumes an epistemological pessimism to the Platonic Socrates in the Phaedo . Chen says, however, that Plato overcome this pessimistic position in later dialogues.

One direction of interpretation asserts that the arguments for immortality should not be viewed separately, but should be understood as a unit. They are not to be removed from the context in which they are presented; the later build on the earlier. In reality, it is a single train of thought that only reaches its goal at the end of the last argument.

The circular argument is the subject of controversial discussion, both in terms of its formal correctness and in terms of the purpose it is intended to serve in dialogue. Some historians of philosophy deny that it is intended to be proof of immortality. According to one hypothesis, it should only prove a body-free existence of the soul, but not an immortality inherent in its nature. The argument of recall is also interpreted differently. In addition to the question of its logical structure and formal correctness, it is about the assessment of the role of the sensory experience in the recall of the ideas. The spectrum of opinions ranges from the view that sensory perception opens up direct access to ideas to the assumption that sensory experience is completely meaningless when it is recalled. According to the “standard interpretation”, the perception of sensory objects does play a role, but by itself cannot enable the full regaining of prenatal knowledge of the ideas. The argument of kinship with the immortal is often considered in scholarship to be the weakest of Socrates' arguments, but this assessment has not gone unchallenged. The formal correctness of the last argument devised on the “second sea voyage”, which is based on the definition of the soul as the principle of life, is also controversial.

The new philosophical method of inquiry

As in other works, in the Phaedo , Plato puts emphasis on the delimitation of the procedure in a philosophical investigation from the methodology of the argument, the eristics . While the philosophical discourse serves exclusively the common search for truth and is open-ended, the eristic dialogue is about the victory in the dispute, the refutation of the opposing position with all means, whereby also deliberately fallacies are used. Eristic competition was very popular in Socrates and Plato's time. Plato's Socrates judges him contemptuously as the opinionated behavior of completely uneducated people. However, it is important to him to secure his positions against possible objections from eristic experts. On the “second sea voyage” in Phaedo , he basically deals with the question of how a philosopher should proceed when examining hypotheses .

The starting point of the investigation is the choice of a statement that is provisionally selected as the working hypothesis , since it appears to be the “strongest” (most plausible) assumption. The consequences of this assumption are then examined. They have to agree with each other (symphōneín) if the hypothesis is to be true. In addition, they must not contradict other assumptions that have already been tested and found plausible, and their consequences. This consistency is only a necessary, not a sufficient condition for the correctness of a hypothesis. When the question is asked why a certain assumption was chosen as the working hypothesis, a “higher” hypothesis must be found to justify this decision from which the first hypothesis can be derived. From all the appropriate hypotheses one must choose which one seems to be the best, and then examine its consequences in the same way as with the first. If necessary, one must proceed in this way by ascending to ever higher hypotheses until one comes across something “sufficient” (hikanón) . A hypothesis is considered “higher” not because of its greater generality, but only because it is logically ahead of the hypothesis to be justified. The goal is achieved as soon as one arrives at a hypothesis that both fulfills the requirement of non-contradiction (consistency) and does not require justification by an even higher hypothesis. These explanations by Plato's Socrates on the methodology triggered intense discussions in research. Among other things, this concerns the conditions under which a hypothesis can be regarded as “sufficient” and therefore not requiring justification. This is apparently the case when all participants in the discussion consider the correctness to be so evident that no objections are raised and no one demands a justification by an even higher hypothesis. However, this is not a guarantee of knowledge, as the evidence of correctness could be disputed in another discussion. It is essential that Plato's Socrates apparently only considers propositional truth criteria.

Understanding causation

Another lively research debate revolves around the understanding of the term aitía ("cause") that Plato's Socrates used in his study of the cause of arising and perishing. In the “second voyage” he comes to the conclusion that the causes of the ephemeral individual things are ideas or - according to another interpretation - the “ participation ” relationships between ideas and individual things. Among other things, the questions of whether effective causes are meant and what metaphysical status the causes have in the cause-effect relationships discussed in the Phaedo are discussed. It is also disputed whether the Aristotelian term “effective cause” is appropriate here. According to one direction of interpretation, causes in the sense of Plato's use of the term must always be things and have a primarily ontological function. Then the ideas themselves are the causes of the individual sense objects. This is how Aristotle understood the statements in Phaedo . The opposite interpretation is based on a different understanding of aitia . According to her, aitia is synonymous with "explanation" or "reason" in the sense of "facts suitable as an explanation". This means that circumstances, events or relations can be causes. Then the Platonic causes have a primarily epistemological function. In this case, it is not the ideas that are the causes of the sense objects, but the participation ratio of the sense objects to the ideas.

Furthermore, the criteria according to which a cause is recognized as such by Plato is discussed. What is certain is that he considers the following assumptions to be evident: If x is the cause that something has the quality “F-ness”, the opposite of which is “Not-F-ness”, then (1) x does not can have the quality "not-F-ness", (2) the opposite of x cannot be the cause that something has the quality "F-ness", (3) x can never be the cause that something has the quality "not-F-ness".

The starting point of the train of thought of Plato's Socrates on his “first sea voyage” is his conviction that there is a world reason, the nous , which orders and structures everything as it is best. As a result, everything is set up in the best possible way. If one starts from this principle, one can trace natural conditions back to the fact that they are better than the theoretically conceivable alternatives and therefore necessarily have to be as they are. Thus nature is explained teleologically . In order to clarify the questions of whether the earth is stable in the center of the cosmos and whether it is a sphere or a disk, one has to consider which of the possible options is better; this is then inevitably the one that the nous actually realizes. Socrates is convinced of the correctness of this approach, but has to admit that he does not have a teleological explanatory model that can be applied to concrete natural history questions; he could neither find such a thing in others nor develop it himself. Because of this, the first sea voyage failed. Therefore, in the Phaedo , Socrates chose a new approach, the second sea voyage. Later, however, in the dialogue Timaeus, Plato tackled the plan for a detailed teleological explanation of the world by the nous.

The concept of equality

The concept of equality, which plays an important role in the Phaedo in connection with the theory of ideas and the relationship between ideas and sense objects , is also discussed . The main question is how Plato classifies mathematical equality in his model. Whether he adopted a third class of entities standing between them, to which the mathematical objects belong, is a matter of dispute, in addition to the ideas and the sense objects.

Dealing with the irrational

Psychologically interesting is a remark by Kebes, who laughingly states that there is probably a child in him and in Simmias who is afraid of death like a ghost and who must be persuaded to give up his fear. Not he himself, Kebes, is afraid, but only the child in him. Socrates advises to recite a magic formula to the child daily until he is cured of his fear. Here Plato addresses the need not only to convince the mind with arguments, but also to adequately take irrational factors into account if one wants to achieve peace of mind. The Phaedo repeatedly addresses the problem that logically acceptable evidence is sometimes insufficient to overcome suspicion and remove stubborn doubts. An authority described as a child in the adult is held responsible for such difficulties, an irrational aspect of psychological life. Therefore affect therapy is necessary.

The biographical background

Another important topic of the research is the question of the assessment of the autobiographical statements of Plato's Socrates. According to his account, in his youth he dealt intensively with the teachings of natural philosophy that were widespread at the time, but did not find any satisfactory answers to his questions. Then he was temporarily impressed by the approach of Anaxagoras, which combined natural research with a theory of reason. Disappointed, however, he turned away from it when he discovered that the natural history investigations of Anaxagoras did not lead to a comprehensive system of world order based on compelling reasons. After finding all previous approaches to be philosophically inadequate, he developed the doctrine of ideas as an alternative to natural philosophy. The latter is certainly unhistorical, because the theory of ideas is an innovation of Plato that did not belong to the ideas of historical Socrates. In research, the development described in the Phaedo , which leads from the search for explanations for natural conditions to a metaphysical interpretation of the world, is interpreted differently. It is disputed whether there is a real biographical background - for example in Plato's own thought development - or whether it is a purely literary fiction that is only intended to illustrate one of the author's demands.

The religious aspect

Christina Schefer has of in the special closeness Phaidon out Gedankenguts presented to the Apollo cult. According to their interpretation, Plato presented the course of Socrates' search for truth based on the model of the religious initiation of the mysteries , since he understood the philosophical path of knowledge as initiation . According to Schefer's understanding, Socrates' death is also described dramatically as an initiation of the mysteries. It represents a complete purification (kátharsis) in the sense of the purification rite of the mysteries. The background of the mysteries can be recognized from numerous details of Plato's description. The philosophical thought movement does not end with the “second sea voyage”, but opens access to a new, non-philosophical answer to the question of the aitia . This is a "third sea voyage". It leads to a religious, by its nature unspeakable experience of the god Apollo.

The last words of Socrates

There are numerous attempts to interpret Socrates' last words, his seemingly mysterious admonition to Crito not to forget the rooster that they owed Asclepius. With this, as with other details, Plato certainly wanted to emphasize the piety of Socrates, who had been sentenced to death for alleged infidelity. Usually it is assumed that it was about a wish for recovery and its fulfillment, because Asklepios was the god of healing to whom the sick could turn. The interpreters take the disease partly literally and partly in a figurative sense. Some researchers believe that these are the authentic last words of the historical Socrates, others assume a literary fiction of Plato.

The interpretation in the figurative sense has been proposed in various variants. The allegorical interpretation, already attested in late antiquity , is widespread that Socrates viewed his death as the healing of the soul - namely, its liberation from the prison of the body - and wanted to thank Asclepius for it. According to other allegorical interpretations it is about the healing of the illness irrational through philosophy as a remedy or especially about the liberation from the illness " misology ", a general doubt about the success of the philosophical striving for knowledge, or about overcoming the fear of death perceived as illness. Against these hypotheses, however, speaks the fact that Asklepios was responsible for the healing of physical illnesses, not for the elimination of mental evils.

According to the other direction of interpretation, the representatives of which assume a physical illness, it was a past recovery, which concerned someone from the circle of Socrates. According to another hypothesis, Socrates was thinking of Plato, who was not among the friends in prison because of an illness.

As an alternative to the two directions, which assume a desire for recovery, a third interpretation has been proposed. Their starting point is the double meaning of the word pharmakón - "remedy" and "poison" - and Asclepius' responsibility for both types of active ingredients. According to this understanding, the sacrifice of the rooster was not meant as thanks for a healing, but rather Asclepius should be thanked for the poison with which he had opened the way for Socrates to a disembodied existence after death. In contrast to the allegorical interpretation, this interpretation does without the problematic assumption that Plato's Socrates viewed life itself as a disease.

Bust of Plato (Roman copy of the Greek Plato portrait of Silanion , Glyptothek Munich )

Completion time

For stylistic reasons it can be assumed that the Phaedo belongs to Plato's middle creative period. He is obviously after the dialogue Menon emerged as Cebes in Phaedo to in Menon accepts described experiment anamnesis reference. The dating approaches vary between 389 and 375 BC. Chr .; mostly the drafting is set in the middle or late 380s.

Text transmission

The direct ancient text transmission consists of several fragments of papyrus manuscripts from the period from the 3rd century BC. Until the 2nd / 3rd Century AD. One papyrus relevant to textual criticism , the remains of which the Egyptologist Flinders Petrie discovered in the necropolis of Gurob in 1889 , is particularly well-known and has been thoroughly researched . The oldest preserved medieval Phaidon -Handschrift was built in 895 in the Byzantine Empire for Aretha of Caesarea made.


The Phaedo is considered to be one of the most important dialogues of Plato and is one of his most intensely received works. Both content-related and formal aspects, both the philosophical content and the literary design, have contributed to the strong impact that it has developed in European intellectual history up to modern times. The factors that have made its continued popularity include the literary motif of the persecuted innocent victim of a blatant miscarriage of justice and morally far superior to his accusers and judges, the haunting portrayal of the exemplary attitude of a true philosopher, and the advertising that goes with it for philosophy, the unity of thought and action in the life and death of Socrates, the analysis of the relationship between body and soul, the awakening of hope for a continued life after death and the promise of rich rewards of right behavior in a future ideal existence. Then there is the drama of the situation created by the imminent execution.


In ancient times the Phaedo was eagerly studied and commented on and often quoted. It seems to have been considered a classic work from its publication. In addition to the authentic title Phaedo , the alternative title Über die Seele was also in use. The argument for the immortality of the soul met with particular interest. The last of the arguments put forward by Plato's Socrates, which proceeds from the definition of the soul as a principle of life, was regarded by many authors as the strongest. Socrates' idea that philosophy should be understood as preparation for death met with a strong response.

From the 4th to the 1st century BC Chr.

Plato's student Aristotle quoted Phaedo by name four times. In three of the four places he critically referred to the assertion of Plato's Socrates that the things that can be perceived by the senses are not only as they appear thanks to the ideas, but that the ideas must also be the cause of the becoming and passing away of the ephemeral . Aristotle rejected Plato's doctrine of ideas and disapproved of Socrates' arguments in the Phaedo . He disliked the criticism of the older natural philosophy there; he said that while Socrates rebuked others, he himself couldn’t say anything better. He considered Plato's mythical description of the rivers and lakes of the underworld to be meant seriously. In his work Meteorologie he gave it again greatly abbreviated in order to then criticize it. He put forward several arguments with which he wanted to prove that the representation in the Phaedo could in no way correspond to the facts. In other writings, Aristotle commented - partly with approval - on individual theses put forward in the dialogue without explicitly mentioning it. Among other things, he turned against the theory that the soul is a harmony.

The unknown author of an ancient anecdote claims that Aristotle was, as Plato the Phaidon have read, remained the only listener to the end; everyone else left. This is probably not a historical fact, but a historical core cannot be ruled out. According to a widespread research opinion, it is an invention of anti-platonic circles, which criticized the works of the philosopher as boring and difficult to understand or took offense at the content. They wanted to give the impression that Plato's style or the content of the dialogue was unbearable even to his own students.

As the late antique philosopher Johannes Philoponos claims, Epicurus , the founder of Epicureanism , tried to refute an argument by Plato's Socrates against the interpretation of the soul as harmony. It is unknown whether this message came from a trusted source.

In the 3rd century BC The poet Callimachus of Cyrene wrote an epigram about Phaedo , which gained considerable fame and later a. a. was quoted by Cicero . In it he announced that a man named Cleombrotos, who had thrown himself from a high wall to his death, had not been induced to do this by a personal misfortune, but had only ended his life under the impression of reading the Phaedo . Apparently, Callimachus wanted to target the philosophical affirmation of death presented in the dialogue, as it was dangerous for simple minds. He ignored the fact that Plato's Socrates resolutely rejects voluntary suicide in the dialogue. The alleged event was still known in late antiquity and was considered historical. The church fathers Augustine and Laktanz commented on this. Lactantium attacked Plato violently, pagan philosophers defended him and asserted that Cleombrotus had misunderstood the dialogue and was responsible for his own error.

Pieces of a papyrus manuscript from the 3rd century BC. B.C. contain fragments of a text in which arguments for immortality from the Phaedo are summarized. It may be a comment on the dialogue. In this case the fragments are evidence of a very early commentary. However, this is doubted in recent research. The historian of philosophy David Sedley suspects that it is not a comment, but an independent work by a peripatetic who explains the Platonic view in order to then criticize it. According to Sedley's hypothesis, the author might be Straton von Lampsakos , who in the 3rd century BC As the second successor of Aristotle, he directed his philosophy school in Athens. Straton is known to have fought against the Platonic ontology and the theory of the soul and especially dealt with the arguments in the Phaedo . He rejected the hypothesis of a soul independent of the body. Even in late antiquity Straton's reasoning was known and presented for the Platonic Phaidon -design challenging.

In the 2nd century BC The stoic Panaitios of Rhodes is said to have doubted the authorship of Plato. This is what the unknown author of an imperial epigram claims . Such a misjudgment is hardly to be expected of the philologically competent Panaitios. Presumably, it is a matter of a cursory confusion with a doubt of Panaitios about the authenticity of dialogues that were ascribed to Phaedo. Another stoic of the 2nd century BC BC, Boethos of Sidon, criticized the proofs of immortality of Phaedo in a work about the soul , which has not been preserved. This stoic should not be confused with a peripatetic of the same name, also from Sidon, who lived at the time of the emperor Augustus .

In the tetralogical order of the works of Plato, which apparently in the 1st century BC Was introduced, the Phaedo belongs to the first tetralogy.

Cicero used the Phaedo very often. In his dialogue Tusculanae disputationes , he addressed the problem addressed by Plato that arguments cannot remove an existing distrust, even if their logic appears to be compelling. This is what happens a dialogue participants Cicero, of the Phaidon cares to read often and leaves convince the local argument, but subsequently begins to doubt again in immortality.

The politician and general Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger read Phaedo the night before the day on which he found himself in a hopeless situation in 46 BC. Took his life by throwing himself on his sword.

The scholar Marcus Terentius Varro dealt with Phaidon's doctrine of the wandering of souls in the first book of his work Antiquitates rerum divinarum , which has not been preserved.

From the 1st to the 3rd century AD

In the early Roman Empire , Plato's dialogue was part of the educational heritage outside of the Platonic school tradition. An elegy by the poet Ovid , which he wrote after his exile from Rome, contains an allusion to Phaedo . Allusions to dialogue can also be found in the Jewish thinker Philon of Alexandria . The Stoic Seneca mentioned Phaedo only sporadically in his writings, but was very impressed by Plato's description of Socrates' attitude towards the execution. He took her as a model when he committed suicide in 65 on the orders of Emperor Nero . When the rhetorician Dion Chrysostom had to live in exile on the instructions of Emperor Domitian , he strengthened himself by reading Phaedo . The Stoic Epictetus , who counted Socrates among his models, referred several times to the Phaedo .

From a casual remark by the writer Lukian of Samosata , who lived in the 2nd century, it can be seen that the death of Socrates was a popular subject for painters.

The scholar Athenaios reports anecdotal material from an antiplatonic source. According to his account, after reading the dialogue named after him, Phaedo assured him that in reality he had neither said nor heard of any of this.

The history of philosophy Diogenes Laertios counted the Phaedo to the "ethical" writings. He cited the circular argument for immortality as an example of the dialectical final procedure, in which first the general is proven by the particular and then the general proposition thus obtained forms the basis of further argumentation.

The imperial Platonists who found Phaidon in the epoch of Middle Platonism much attention. It was one of the central writings that formed the main material in the philosophical training of the Middle Platonists. The writer Plutarch , who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries and who professed the Platonic tradition, liked to consult him and quote individual passages. He referred to statements made by Plato's Socrates or alluded to them. In the 2nd century, the Middle Platonist Attikos probably commented on the dialogue. It is certain that Atticus' students Harpocration of Argos also in his great Plato comment Phaidon interpreted. Another 2nd century Middle Platonist, Albinos , appears to have also commented. The Middle Platonist Alcinous , who probably lived in the 2nd century, wrote a textbook on the principles of Plato (Didaskalikós) . There he went into detail on the argumentation for immortality in the Phaedo , modifying Plato's argument a little. Two writers, whose names have not survived, announced the writing of a Phaedo commentary: the author of the Consolatio ad Apollonium, wrongly attributed to Plutarch, and the author of an anonymous commentary on Plato's dialogue Theaetetus . It is not known whether they achieved their intentions. The writer, speaker and philosopher Apuleius , who called himself a Platonist, translated the Phaedo into Latin. Its translation, which was still valued in late antiquity, has not been preserved.

In the 3rd century, the influential philosopher and philologist Longinos († 272), one of the last Middle Platonists, who taught in Athens, treated the Phaedo in his classes. It is unclear whether he did this verbally or in the form of a fixed comment. Apparently the Middle Platonist Democritus , a contemporary of Longino, also commented on the Phaedo .

Plotinus († 270), the founder of Neoplatonism , often referred to dialogue. His pupil Porphyrios wrote a Phaedo commentary. In addition, Porphyrios wrote a treatise against Boethos on the soul , in which he tried to refute the objections of Boethos of Sidon to Plato's immortality hypothesis.

Late antiquity

In late antiquity , Neoplatonism was the dominant philosophical trend. As with the Middle Platonists, the Phaedo was a core part of the curriculum in the Neoplatonic schools of philosophy. Iamblichus von Chalkis († around 320/325), whose teaching activity was groundbreaking for the later Neoplatonism, wrote a Phaedo commentary, of which only fragments have survived. In his classification of the dialogues of Plato, he classified the Phaedo as "cleansing". The influential Neo-Platonist Proklos († 485), who headed the Athens School of Philosophy as a scholarch , commented on the dialogue. In addition, Proclus wrote a pamphlet on Plato's evidence of immortality. From the arguments in the Phaedo he only took into account what was gained on the “second voyage”, which is based on the essence of the soul as a principle of life. How two of the last Neo-Platonists of late antiquity, Damascius († after 538) and Olympiodorus the Younger († after 565), interpreted the Phaedo can be seen from their comments, some of which have been handed down by listeners in the form of transcripts or collections of notes, whereby the commentary of the Olympiodoros, however, only around a quarter of the text has been preserved. Both commentators advocated an ascetic interpretation of Plato's Socrates' understanding of pleasure. Damascius dealt critically with the comment of Proclus. His independent investigation of the immortality problem, in which he distanced himself from common concepts of the Neoplatonic tradition, is considered an important philosophical achievement. Special treatises on individual passages of Phaedo were written by Proklos' teacher Syrianos († around 437) and Ammonios Hermeiou, who taught in Alexandria († probably after 517). Another later Neoplatonists, Priscian of Lydia , dealt with the question of immortality in his solutions to the problems that the Persian king has raised Khosrow (Solutiones eorum, de quibus dubitavit Chosroes Persarum rex) , while also having the Phaidon made reference.

One of the topics with which the Neoplatonic commentators grappled was the question of whether individual souls finally leave the cycle of transmigration of souls, which, given an infinite duration of time, would have to lead to the end of all physical life, or whether the cycle is endless for everyone. The latter view was held by the majority of the Neoplatonists, and in the Athens School of Philosophy it was the dominant doctrine. With this, these Neoplatonists professed a consistently cyclical worldview. They said that a process like the entry of a soul into a body can only occur if it is natural, i.e. corresponds to the nature of this soul. This means that the process must necessarily be repeated again and again, since the nature of the soul is unchangeable. Thus, no soul that has ever been in a human body can remain forever in an otherworldly realm, but each must sooner or later take on an earthly existence again.

The ideas of Phaedo were also received in Christian circles in late antiquity. In the 4th century the church father Gregor von Nyssa created a Christian counterpart to Plato's writing with his dialogue De anima et resurrectione (On the soul and the resurrection) . He took the Phaidon not only a number of subjects and approaches, but also imitated him in terms of scenic action by: The role of Socrates plays Gregory oldest sister Macrina, speaking on her death to an audience with her brother on the soul, death and resurrection . The church father Augustine († 430) turned in his work De civitate dei against the argument of Plato's Socrates that if the living become dead, the living must inevitably emerge from the dead. This consideration, which served to justify the transmigration of souls, was not acceptable to Christians. In his remarks on the question of immortality, Augustine repeatedly resorted to lines of thought from the Phaedo . The Christian philosopher Johannes Philoponos († around 575) wrote a Phaedo comment that is lost today.

middle Ages

Christian culture

The Latin- speaking scholars of the West had known the Phaedo since the Sicilian scholar Henricus Aristippus translated it into Latin around the middle of the 12th century. The text has come down to us in some late medieval manuscripts. The translation is literal and therefore stylistically very poor. In the late Middle Ages, the Latin Phaedo was quoted by several scholars; individual passages were included in collections of exempla (instructive examples) and sayings.

In the 11th century, Gregorios Magistros created an Armenian translation of the dialogue.

The ancient story of Cleombrotus, who allegedly committed suicide after reading Phaedo , was well known in educated circles in the 14th century. In 1404/1405 the humanist Leonardo Bruni translated Plato's Dialogue into Latin. Coluccio Salutati , who was dissatisfied with the Middle Latin translation of Henricus Aristippus , was the inspiration for this , as it did not meet the humanistic requirements linguistically. Bruni's translation met the needs of his time stylistically, but inadequately reflected the philosophical content. Bruni silently left out individual offensive passages. He dedicated his work to Pope Innocent VII. With this, he wanted to promote humanistic education at the papal court, the compatibility of which with the Christian faith was disputed.

Islamic culture

In the Arab-speaking world, the Phaedo was probably the most famous dialogue of Plato after the Timaeus in the Middle Ages . He was mentioned as Kitāb Fād (h) un (Book of Phaedo ) in lists of Plato's works. Its content was distributed in various versions. However, no information is available about the type of tradition; Nowhere in the sources is there any reference to an Arabic translation or commentary. In 985/986, the Persian philosopher al-ʻĀmirī, who was heavily influenced by Neo-Platonism, wrote the text Al-amad ʻalā l-abad on the afterlife , apparently based primarily on a paraphrasing Arabic version of the Phaedo . There was also another Arabic version, much closer to the original Greek text, whose unknown author, however, apparently tightened it up and renounced the dialogue form. The scholar al-Bīrūnī (973-1048) quoted from this version in detail in his monograph on India Fī taḥqīq mā li'l-hind , where he used Plato's considerations when discussing the doctrine of immigration. Another Arabic version, also lost today, contained the final myth and the death scene in literal translation; she gave the philosophical discussions paraphrased or summarized and perhaps only in part. It was used in the 9th century by the doctor Isḥāq ibn 'Alī ar-Ruhāwī in his Adab aṭ-ṭabīb on medical ethics. It also formed the basis of a partial Persian translation of the Phaedo , which was apparently made in 1374. The Persian Phaedo has been preserved in a manuscript that was probably written by the translator himself, but has not yet been edited. It contains about a third of Plato's Dialogue, which the translator believed was a work by Phaedo.

Plato's depiction of Socrates' death in the last part of the Phaedo also circulated in a separate tradition in the Arabic-speaking world. From this tradition twig two Arab adaptations of the substance are obtained: a more detailed, the dialogue character of Phaidon maintains and in Scripture Ta'riḫ al-ḥukamā' the science historian Al-Qifti has survived (1172-1248), and a shorter, younger and stronger redesigned Version found in the biographies of Socrates by al-Mubaššir (11th century) and Ibn abī Uṣaibiʿa (13th century).

The authors who used material from the Phaedo included the Iḫwān aṣ-ṣafāʾ (" Brothers of Purity ") , active in the 10th century . In their main encyclopedic work, the Letters of the Brothers of Purity , they named Plato's work as a source when reproducing Socrates' last words.

A free transformation of Phaidon -Stoffs provides the book on the apple (Arabic Risalat at-Tuffaha , Latin Liber de pomo ). This philosophical work of unknown origin contains alleged statements made by Aristotle in the circle of his students shortly before his death. In contrast to her historical role model, the dialogue figure Aristotle assumes an individual immortality of the soul. "Aristotle" considers this to be evident; he does not try to prove it like Plato's Socrates. He emphasizes the importance of exploring one's own soul, rejects hedonism and suicide, and assumes a sharp contrast between spirit and matter. Perhaps that is Risalat at-Tuffaha the Arabic version of a Greek adaptation of Phaidon , played the role of the Platonic Socrates in Aristotle. The Arabic book about the apple was already in circulation in the 10th century and was distributed in several versions. One of them was translated into Persian. Another was translated first from Arabic into Hebrew and then from Hebrew into Latin in the 13th century. As the handwritten tradition shows, the Latin version was very popular in Europe in the late Middle Ages.

The beginning of Phaedo in the first edition, Venice 1513

The Phaedo commentary of Proclus was translated into Syriac , as reported by the scholar ibn an-Nadīm in his Kitāb al-Fihrist in the 10th century . Part of it was also available in an Arabic translation by the Christian philosopher ibn Zur'a (943-1008). These translations, like the original Greek text, are lost today. Proclus's statements on the last argument of immortality in the Phaedo were received on various occasions in Arabic-language literature.

Early modern age

The humanist Marsilio Ficino made a new Latin translation of the dialogue, the first to be printed. He published it in Florence in 1484 in the complete edition of his Plato translations. Ficino's Phaedo was a significant improvement over Bruni's text, as his knowledge of Plato's philosophy was much better.

The first edition of the Greek text appeared in Venice in September 1513 by Aldo Manuzio as part of the first complete edition of Plato's works. The editor was Markos Musuros .

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) took essential suggestions from the dialogue. In particular, the idea of ​​a priori knowledge contained in Plato's concept of anamnesis found his approval, as did the demand made by Plato's Socrates for a teleological explanation of the world.

Moses Mendelssohn. Oil painting by Christian Bernhard Rode (1768), formerly in the Gleimhaus Halberstadt, missing

In 1767, Moses Mendelssohn published his writing Phädon or Über die Immortlichkeit der Seele , an adaptation of Plato's Dialogue, in which he translated more than a third of the ancient script sentence by sentence into German and partly freely reproduced, partly redesigned or omitted as well as his own additions inserted. In the preface he described the book as something between a translation of the Phaedo and his own elaboration. He had sought the evidence of immortality "to fit the taste of our times". He considered this revision of the content to be necessary because he believed that Plato's work contained “a lot of uncommon beauties”, but the arguments put forward for the immateriality of the soul were “so shallow and grim that they hardly deserve a serious refutation”. Mendelssohn strove with great success to popularize metaphysics and to defend it against materialist objections. His writing found numerous readers and earned him the name of a second Socrates in circles of his admirers. It met a widespread need for a “natural”, rational and undogmatic religion, the herald of which Socrates was considered to be.

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) dealt with Mendelssohn's book. He valued it, though he rejected the evidence for immortality, and took important suggestions from it for determining the basis of his ethics. Kant's conviction that ethical judgments must have their source not in empirical principles, but only in pure reason, had its starting point in Phaedo .

The Death of Socrates , oil painting by Jacques-Louis David (1787), Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York

In 1787, the neoclassical French painter Jacques-Louis David created the oil painting The Death of Socrates , which was enthusiastically received by the public. Contrary to the representation in Phaedo , in David's picture Plato can be seen among those present at the execution. Jean-François Pierre Peyron, who competed with David, painted the same scene; his performance was far less well received than that of his rival.


Philosophical Aspects

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel saw “popular philosophy” in the Phaidon . He noted that the dialogue, "though not containing anything excellent," presented an uplifting picture. One meets here “the mode of representation and conception least of all separately”; In doing so, however, imagining does not sink to the “roughness” “which the soul imagines as a thing and asks a thing about its duration or its existence”. In the case of the anamnesis, one does not have to think about the “bad idea” of innate ideas, which implies that the thoughts are partly fixed from the start and have a natural existence that “does not only arise through the movement of the mind”. In his criticism of Anaxagoras, Plato's Socrates wrongly demands causes for nature "which do not seem to be in nature, but which outside of it fall into consciousness in general"; Purposeful action is first of all an act of consciousness, not nature.

Friedrich Nietzsche 1889 pointed in the Phaidon traditional last words of Socrates in the sense of equation of life and disease. He saw in it an expression of sadness, “tiredness in life” and resistance to life. He took this as the starting point for a fundamental criticism of Plato, Socrates and generally the “wisest of all times”, who all judged them that way. From this evaluation of life it can be seen that the supposedly great sages are "decline types" and in reality are unwise. Otherwise they would have recognized that such judgments were stupid. In principle, the value of life cannot be estimated, as man cannot overcome his bias in this regard.

The neo-Kantian Paul Natorp treated also in his 1903 published study of the theory of ideas Phaidon . He believed that Plato's real concern in this dialogue was not the proof of personal immortality, but the mental elevation to the eternal as an eternity in every moment. In thinking of ideas, the philosopher has a share in the eternal. The main content of the Platonic idea, as presented in the Phaedo , is nothing other than the logical procedure. This procedure is the dialectic , by which logic is to be understood here as "intellectual knowledge". It decides whether one reaches truth or not, because for Plato the truth of objects can only be seen in the poses of thought, the statements of science secured by adequate deduction . The security is based exclusively on the logical procedure.

In 1909 Nicolai Hartmann dealt with Phaidon's concept of immortality . He said that the proofs of immortality are all flawed if they are directed to the individual in the soul. If immortality is transferred to the individual soul, this means the abolition of the immanence of the idea. If, however, the arguments relate only to the general, the principle of the soul as pure consciousness, then they are correct in themselves and at the same time justified from the whole of the system. The individual cannot be immortal within the framework of the doctrine of ideas, since it is always what is generated, not what is generating, and therefore cannot have the eternal character as the being value of what is generating. It is different, however, with subjectivity. They have, as is clear from the arguments in Phaidon follows, an eternal value, a Ideensein. Thus it contains that from which it can get its orientation. In this sense it is "immortal" if it is understood as the idea of ​​subjectivity, as the principle in it. This is a necessary consequence of Plato's way of thinking, even if he had not made this clear to himself.

Romano Guardini published his work The Death of Socrates in 1943 . He emphasized the religious character of the certainty of immortality presented in the Phaedo. The dialogue represents the message of Plato's Apollo religion; it belongs to "that small number of books through which people are repeatedly called to examine whether they are worthy of their name".

In 1973, Hans-Georg Gadamer examined the argument for immortality. He judged that the Phaedo was in many ways one of the greatest and most important writings in Greek philosophy. The evidence for immortality, however, was "all something deeply unsatisfactory (...), no matter how convincing Socrates' human appearance". The poetic persuasiveness of the dialogue is stronger than the logical conclusiveness of its arguments. Plato saw the inadequacy of the evidence with full awareness and in the end limited the claim attached to it to the hypothetical. The deeper meaning of the argument is not the proof of immortality, but that "soul comes out in its actual being, that is (...) in its waking self-understanding and understanding of being".

In 1984 Michel Foucault dealt in detail with the Phaedo in a lecture at the Collège de France . He saw a central aspect of the dialogue in the thought contained in Socrates' last words that one should not forget, not neglect. That is one of the main concerns of Plato's Socrates. It is primarily about taking care of oneself, which should not be neglected. This concern shows itself in the avoidance of harm to the soul, which would result from wrong opinions. Wrong opinions are diseases of the soul. Healing is possible if you take care of yourself and allow yourself to be cared for, which allows you to recognize your own soul and how it is connected to the truth. This warning is the legacy of Socrates.

The Italian philosopher Giovanni Reale, a prominent representative of the “Tübingen and Milan School” of the Plato interpretation, sees the section of Phaedo about the two “sea voyages” of Socrates “the ' Magna Charta ' of Western metaphysics”. There the first rational justification for the existence of a transcendent reality is offered and for the first time in the history of Western thought the distinction between the metaphysical and the physical level is presented in such a clear way.

Literary aspects

The literary quality of Phaedo is valued highly. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful dialogues of Plato. Even the influential Plato translator Friedrich Schleiermacher stated in 1809 that it was generally recognized "that there is little more beautiful of representations of this kind than here the dying Socrates". In 1919 Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff praised the simple and clear structure, the treatment of the main philosophical theme, which led to the myth "in a wonderful increase", and the contrast between the simple report on dying and the luminous images of hope; “With the most deliberate art”, philosophical instruction is repeatedly brought back to the task of the day, dying. However, despite all the art, the merging of the various materials that unite the dialogue was not entirely successful. In 1933, Kurt Hildebrandt found that the Phaedo was “probably the most famous and most read of Plato's work for thousands of years”, and that there is a poetic breath in it like only in the most important prose works of world literature. Franz Dirlmeier described the Phaidon in 1949 as a simple, completely unpathetic drama that shows " Parthenonian clarity". It is an “absolute work of art”, the command of the language is perfect, the form is unrepeatable.

Giovanni Reale judged in 1996 that the Phaedo possessed an almost perfect structure, structure and development in every detail for its genre. Dorothea Frede called the Phaedo in 1999 "Plato's literary masterpiece". In 2004, Ernst Heitsch found that Plato had succeeded in combining a dark mood with a light tone of serenity in a way that is second to none and secures its place among the great works of world literature for dialogue. The author had cleverly considered different comprehension skills and designed the text in such a way that it could speak to different types of readers.


In 1823 the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine wrote the poem La mort de Socrate (The Death of Socrates) , which comprises 831 verses. Lamartine, who was impressed by Phaedo even as a child , treated the subject from the perspective of his Christian faith; he saw in the philosophical world view of Socrates a forerunner of the Christian revelation. The starting point for his design of the substance was the French commented Phaidon Translation by Victor Cousin . Lamartine's poem L'Immortalité (Immortality) is also shaped by the ideas of the Platonic dialogue.

Marguerite Yourcenar published nine short stories in 1936 under the title Feux (fire) . In one of these texts, which she describes as lyrical prose, she lets Phaedo appear as the speaker; he turns to Kebes and, in anticipation of his death, draws a gloomy balance of life, including the death of Socrates. Values ​​like virtue, love and wisdom mean nothing to him anymore. Disaffected, Phaedo concludes that wisdom is an illusion and even vice has "lied".

Editions and translations

Editions (partly with translation)

  • Christopher G. Strachan (Ed.): Phaedo . In: Elizabeth A. Duke et al. (Ed.): Platonis opera , Vol. 1, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995, ISBN 0-19-814569-1 , pp. 85-186 (authoritative critical edition)
  • Franz Dirlmeier (Ed.): Plato: Phaidon . 2nd edition, Heimeran, Munich 1959 (with translation; pp. 246–249 critical apparatus)
  • Gunther Eigler (Ed.): Platon: Works in Eight Volumes , Volume 3, 5th Edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-19095-5 , pp. 1–207 (reprint of the critical edition by Léon Robin, 10th edition, Paris 1967, with the German translation by Friedrich Schleiermacher, 2nd, improved edition, Berlin 1826)
  • Léon Robin , Paul Vicaire (eds.): Plato: Œuvres complètes , vol. 4, part 1: Phédon . Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1983, ISBN 2-251-00371-1 (critical edition and French translation by Vicaire, introduction by Robin)
  • Christopher J. Rowe (Ed.): Plato: Phaedo . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993, ISBN 0-521-31318-X (critical edition with a short text-critical apparatus and commentary)
  • Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Plato: Phaidon . Meiner, Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-7873-0960-8 (Edition by John Burnet [1900] without the text-critical apparatus, introduction and translation of ten pfennigs)


  • Otto Apelt : Plato: Phaidon or about the immortality of the soul . In: Otto Apelt (Ed.): Platon: Complete Dialogues , Vol. 2, Meiner, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-7873-1156-4 (with introduction and explanations; reprint of the 3rd edition, Leipzig 1923)
  • Winfried Czapiewski: Plato on the death of Socrates. Four writings of Plato on the person and death of Socrates: Euthyphron, Apology, Crito, Phaedo. Laufen, Oberhausen 2018, ISBN 978-3-87468-378-4
  • Theodor Ebert : Plato: Phaidon. Translation and commentary (= Plato: Works , edited by Ernst Heitsch and Carl Werner Müller , Vol. I 4). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-525-30403-X
  • Arthur Hübscher : Plato: Phaedo or On the Immortality of the Soul . 3rd edition, Piper, Munich / Zurich 1988, ISBN 3-492-10805-9
  • Rudolf Rufener: Plato: Meisterdialoge (= anniversary edition of all works , vol. 3). Artemis, Zurich / Munich 1974, ISBN 3-7608-3640-2 , pp. 3–103 (with introduction by Olof Gigon pp. VII – XXXV)
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher: Phaidon . In: Erich Loewenthal (Ed.): Platon: All works in three volumes , Vol. 1, unchanged reprint of the 8th, revised edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-17918-8 , pp. 729–811


Overview representations

Comments and inquiries

  • David Bostock: Plato's Phaedo . Clarendon Press, Oxford 1986, ISBN 0-19-824918-7
  • Kenneth Dorter: Plato's Phaedo: An Interpretation . University of Toronto Press, Toronto et al. 1982, ISBN 0-8020-5550-8
  • Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and commentary (= Plato: Works , edited by Ernst Heitsch and Carl Werner Müller, Vol. I 4). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-525-30403-X
  • Dorothea Frede : Plato's 'Phaidon'. The dream of the immortality of the soul. 2nd edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-13025-1 (introduction, also suitable for readers with little previous knowledge)
  • Robert Loriaux: Le Phédon de Platon. Commentaire et traduction . Vol. 1: Secrétariat des publications, Facultés universitaires, Namur 1969; Vol. 2: Presses Universitaires de Namur, Namur 1975
  • Torsten Menkhaus: Eidos, Psyche and Immortality. A commentary on Plato's Phaedo . Ontos, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-937202-33-1
  • Christopher J. Rowe (Ed.): Plato: Phaedo . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993, ISBN 0-521-31318-X

Collections of articles

  • Gabriele Cornelli et al. (Ed.): Plato's Phaedo. Selected Papers from the Eleventh Symposium Platonicum. Academia, Baden-Baden 2018, ISBN 978-3-89665-702-2
  • Aleš Havlíček, Filip Karfík (ed.): Plato's Phaedo. Proceedings of the Second Symposium Platonicum Pragense. Oikoumene, Prague 2001, ISBN 80-7298-031-9
  • Jörn Müller (Ed.): Plato: Phaidon . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-05-004681-5

Text transmission

  • Antonio Carlini: Studi sulla tradizione antica e medievale del Fedone . Edizioni dell'Ateneo, Rome 1972


  • Sebastian Ramon Philipp Gertz: Death and Immortality in Late Neoplatonism. Studies on the Ancient Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo . Brill, Leiden 2011, ISBN 978-90-04-20717-2
  • Theo Kobusch : History of the impact of the Platonic Phaidon . In: Jörn Müller (Ed.): Plato: Phaidon . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-05-004681-5 , pp. 175-187

Web links


  1. ^ Earl I. McQueen, Christopher J. Rowe: Phaedo, Socrates, and the Chronology of the Spartan War with Elis . In: Méthexis 2, 1989, pp. 1-18, here: 1 f .; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 175.
  2. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 174 f.
  3. Necip Fikri Alican: Rethinking Plato , Amsterdam 2012, p. 333. Cf. Luc Brisson (translator): Platon: Apologie de Socrate, Criton , 2nd edition, Paris 1997, p. 176, note 1.
  4. ^ Plato, Phaedo 59b – c. See Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 175 f.
  5. For the research debate on this question, see Noburu Notomi: Socrates in the Phaedo . In: George Boys-Stones et al. (Ed.): The Platonic Art of Philosophy , Cambridge 2013, pp. 51–69.
  6. Robert Muller: Phedon d'Elis . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5/1, Paris 2012, pp. 279–285; Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, p. 231; Klaus Döring : Phaidon from Elis and Menedemos from Eretria . In: Outline of the History of Philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Vol. 2/1, Basel 1998, pp. 238–245, here: 238–241; Earl I. McQueen, Christopher J. Rowe: Phaedo, Socrates, and the Chronology of the Spartan War with Elis . In: Méthexis 2, 1989, pp. 1-18; Monique Dixsaut (translator): Plato: Phédon , Paris 1991, pp. 32–36; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 175.
  7. Diogenes Laertios 8:46.
  8. Bruno Centrone: Échécratès de Phlionte . In: Richard Goulet (Ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 3, Paris 2000, p. 53 f .; Theodor Ebert: Sokrates as Pythagoreer and the anamnesis in Plato's Phaidon , Stuttgart 1994, pp. 4-7.
  9. Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum 5,29,87.
  10. Plato, Phaedo 61d-e.
  11. On the relationship of the two Thebans to Philolaos and to Pythagoreanism, see David Sedley: The Dramatis Personae of Plato's Phaedo . In: Timothy Smiley (ed.): Philosophical dialogues , Oxford 1995, pp. 3–26, here: 10–13; Theodor Ebert: Socrates as Pythagoreans and the anamnesis in Plato's Phaidon , Stuttgart 1994, pp. 7-10; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 176; Christopher J. Rowe (Ed.): Plato: Phaedo , Cambridge 1993, p. 7.
  12. ^ Plato, Crito 45a – b.
  13. ^ David Sedley: The Dramatis Personae of Plato's Phaedo . In: Timothy Smiley (ed.): Philosophical dialogues , Oxford 1995, pp. 3–26, here: 14–22; Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 82 f., 260 f .; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 176; Luc Brisson: Cébès de Thèbes . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 2, Paris 1994, pp. 246–248; Monique Dixsaut (translator): Plato: Phédon , Paris 1991, pp. 39–41.
  14. Xenophon, Memorabilia 1, 2, 48 and 3, 11, 17.
  15. ^ Plato, Apology 38b.
  16. Plato, Phaedo 115d. See on Kriton Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 114–116; Luc Brisson: Criton d'Alopékè . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 2, Paris 1994, pp. 522-526.
  17. Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, p. 299 f.
  18. ^ Plato, Phaedo 57a-59c.
  19. Plato, Phaedo 59c-61b. Cf. Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 2004, pp. 110–112.
  20. See on this term Monique Dixsaut (translator): Platon: Phédon , Paris 1991, pp. 48–50; Riccardo Di Giuseppe: La teoria della morte nel Fedone platonico , Napoli 1993, pp. 2-39.
  21. Plato, Phaedo 61b-62c. See Christopher G. Strachan: Who Did Forbid Suicide at Phaedo 62 b? In: The Classical Quarterly 20, 1970, pp. 216-220; David Bostock: Plato's Phaedo , Oxford 1986, pp. 16-20; Kenneth Dorter: Plato's Phaedo: An Interpretation , Toronto 1982, pp. 11-19.
  22. Plato, Phaedo 62c-64b. See Kenneth Dorter: Plato's Phaedo: An Interpretation , Toronto 1982, pp. 19-26.
  23. See Dirk Baltzly: Socratic Anti-Empiricism in the Phaedo . In: Eugenio Benitez (Ed.): Dialogues with Plato , Edmonton 1996, pp. 121-142.
  24. ^ Plato, Phaedo 64b-69e. See Kenneth Dorter: Plato's Phaedo: An Interpretation , Toronto 1982, pp. 26–32; Roslyn Weiss: The Right Exchange: Phaedo 69a6 – c3 . In: Ancient Philosophy 7, 1987, pp. 57-66; Paul W. Gooch: The Relation Between Wisdom and Virtue in Phaedo 69a6 – c3 . In: Journal of the History of Philosophy 12, 1974, pp. 153-159.
  25. Plato, Phaedo 69e-70b. Cf. Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 2004, pp. 163–169.
  26. ^ Plato, Phaedo 70b-72e. See Robert Loriaux: Phédon 70 c – d . In: Les Études classiques 35, 1967, pp. 134-144.
  27. ^ Plato, Phaedo 72e-73b.
  28. ^ Plato, Phaedo 73b-74a.
  29. Plato, Phaedo 74a-76e. See Michael L. Morgan: Sense-Perception and Recollection in the Phaedo . In: Phronesis 29, 1984, pp. 237-251; Ian N. Robins: Recollection and Self-Understanding in the Phaedo . In: The Classical Quarterly 47, 1997, pp. 438-451.
  30. Plato, Phaedo 76e-78a.
  31. ^ Plato, Phaedo 78b-79a.
  32. Plato, Phaedo 79a-80e. See Paul Kucharski: L'affinité entre les Idées et l'âme d'après le "Phédon" . In: Archives de philosophie 26, 1963, pp. 483-515.
  33. Plato, Phaedo 80e-84b.
  34. Plato, Phaedon 84b-d.
  35. Plato, Phaedo 84d-85b.
  36. Plato, Phaedo 85b-86d. See Ellen Wagner: Supervenience and the Thesis That the Soul Is a Harmonia . In: Ellen Wagner (Ed.): Essays on Plato's Psychology , Lanham 2001, pp. 69–88; Jaap Mansfeld : Physical Doxai in the Phaedo . In: Maria Kardaun, Joke Spruyt (ed.): The Winged Chariot , Leiden 2000, pp. 1–17, here: 1–5; Christopher CW Taylor: The Arguments in the Phaedo Concerning the Thesis That the Soul Is a Harmonia . In: John P. Anton, Anthony Preus (eds.): Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy , Vol. 2, Albany 1983, pp. 217-231, here: 217-222. Constantinos Macris: Simmias de Thèbes offers a detailed research report. In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 7, Paris 2018, pp. 904–933, here: 919–933.
  37. Plato, Phaedo 86d-88b.
  38. ^ Plato, Phaedo 88b – c.
  39. Plato, Phaedo 88c-89a.
  40. ^ Plato, Phaedo 89a-91c.
  41. ^ Plato, Phaedo 91c-95a. For these considerations, see Franco Trabattoni: La dottrina dell'anima-armonia nel Fedone . In: Elenchos 9, 1988, pp. 53-74; Anna De Pace: La confutazione socratica della dottrina dell'anima-armonia (Fedone, 91c6-95a3) . In: Mauro Bonazzi, Franco Trabattoni (eds.): Platone e la tradizione platonica , Milano 2003, pp. 69-88.
  42. Plato, Phaedo 95a-99c. See Ian Mueller: Platonism and the Study of Nature (Phaedo 95e ff.) In: Jyl Gentzler (Ed.): Method in Ancient Philosophy , Oxford 1998, pp. 67-89; Stephen Menn: On Socrates' First Objections to the Physicists (Phaedo 95 E 8 - 97 B 7) . In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 38, 2010, pp. 37–68.
  43. For the research discussion about the meaning of this term see Stefano Martinelli Tempesta: Sul significato di δεύτερος πλοῦς nel Fedone di Platone . In: Mauro Bonazzi, Franco Trabattoni (eds.): Platone e la tradizione platonica , Milano 2003, pp. 89–125; Yahei Kanayama: The Methodology of the Second Voyage and the Proof of the Soul's Indestructibility in Plato's Phaedo . In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 18, 2000, pp. 87–95.
  44. Plato, Phaedo 99c-102a.
  45. Plato, Phaedo 102a-105b. See Charlotte L. Stough, Forms and Explanation in the Phaedo . In: Phronesis 21, 1976, pp. 1-30; Mohan Matthen: Plato's Treatment of Relational Statements in the Phaedo . In: Phronesis 27, 1982, pp. 90-100; Mario Mignucci: Platone ei relativi . In: Elenchos 9, 1988, pp. 259-294, here: 260-280.
  46. Plato, Phaedo 105b-107a. On the train of thought Karl Heinz Volkmann-Schluck : Soul and Idea . In: Hildegard Hiltmann, Franz Vonessen (ed.): Dialektik undynamik der Person , Cologne 1963, pp. 253–264.
  47. ^ Plato, Phaedo 107a – b.
  48. Plato, Phaedon 107b-d.
  49. Plato, Phaedo 107d-108c.
  50. Plato, Phaedon 108c-114c. See Elizabeth Pender: The Rivers of Tartarus: Plato's Geography of Dying and Coming-back-to-Life . In: Catherine Collobert et al. (Ed.): Plato and Myth , Leiden 2012, pp. 199–233; Matthias Baltes : Dianoemata , Stuttgart 1999, pp. 173-179; David Sedley: Teleology and Myth in the Phaedo . In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 5, 1990, pp. 359-383 (and pp. 384-398 Gail Fine: Commentary on Sedley ); Filip Karfík: The soul of the cosmos , Munich 2004, pp. 30–47; Francisco L. Lisi: The fate of the soul according to Phaedo 107c1-115a8 . In: Aleš Havlíček, Filip Karfík (ed.): Plato's Phaedo. Proceedings of the Second Symposium Platonicum Pragense , Prague 2001, pp. 424-447; Christian Schäfer : The Myth in the Phaedo (107d – 115a) . In: Jörn Müller (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Berlin 2011, pp. 159–174; Jean-François Pradeau: Le monde terrestre: le modèle cosmologique du mythe final du «Phédon» . In: Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Étranger 186, 1996, pp. 75-105.
  51. Plato, Phaedon 114c-115a. Cf. Matthias Baltes: Dianoemata , Stuttgart 1999, pp. 179-181.
  52. ^ Plato, Phaedo 115a-118a.
  53. ^ Plato, Phaedo 118a.
  54. ^ Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 2004, p. 461; Renate Wittern : The poison of the pious way of thinking - On the pharmacology of hemlock in antiquity . In: Erika Hickel , Gerald Schröder (eds.): New contributions to the history of pharmaceuticals , Stuttgart 1982, pp. 15–28, here: 16 f .; Christopher Gill: The Death of Socrates . In: The Classical Quarterly 23, 1973, pp. 25-28.
  55. ^ Enid Bloch: Hemlock Poisoning and the Death of Socrates: Did Plato Tell the Truth? In: Thomas C. Brickhouse, Nicholas D. Smith (eds.): The Trial and Execution of Socrates: Sources and Controversies , Oxford 2002, pp. 255-278.
  56. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 178 f .; Salvatore Lavecchia: Filosofia e motivi misterici nel Fedone . In: Seminari Romani di cultura greca 2, 1999, pp. 263-280; William KC Guthrie : A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 338-340; Christopher G. Strachan: Who Did Forbid Suicide at Phaedo 62 b? In: The Classical Quarterly 20, 1970, pp. 216-220; Theodor Ebert: Sokrates als Pythagoreer and the anamnesis in Plato's Phaidon , Stuttgart 1994, pp. 4–8, 10–17.
  57. See also Andreas Graeser : Problems of the platonic theory of division of the soul , Munich 1969, pp. 55–66, 107 f .; Jörn Müller: Introduction . In: Jörn Müller (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Berlin 2011, pp. 1–17, here: 14 f .; Benedikt Strobel: The argument based on similarity (78b – 80e) . In: Jörn Müller (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Berlin 2011, pp. 75–96, here: 80–82.
  58. See the studies by Jonathan Beere: Philosophy, Virtue, and Immortality in Plato's Phaedo and Jacques Bailly: Commentary on Beere . In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 26, 2010, pp. 253-301.
  59. ^ Daniel C. Russell: Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life , Oxford 2005, pp. 77-105.
  60. Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Hamburg 1991, pp. XXV – XXIX and note 47, 49, 52; Lloyd P. Gerson: Knowing Persons , Oxford 2003, pp. 50-98; David Bostock: Plato's Phaedo , Oxford 1986, pp. 42-193.
  61. James A. Arieti: A Dramatic Interpretation of Plato's Phaedo . In: Illinois Classical Studies 11, 1986, pp. 129-142; Theodor Ebert: Socrates as Pythagoreer and the anamnesis in Plato's Phaidon , Stuttgart 1994, pp. 18–85; Martha C. Beck: Plato's Self-Corrective Development of the Concepts of Soul, Forms and Immortality in Three Arguments of the Phaedo , Lewiston (NY) 1999, pp. 2-4; Ernst Heitsch: accumulation of evidence in Plato's Phaedo . In: Ernst Heitsch: Gesammelte Schriften , Vol. 2, Munich 2001, pp. 175–217, here: 214–217.
  62. ^ Ludwig CH Chen: Acquiring Knowledge of the Ideas , Stuttgart 1992, pp. 11-36.
  63. Margot Fleischer explains this point of view: Hermeneutische Anthropologie , Berlin 1976, pp. 32–86. Cf. Martha C. Beck: Plato's Self-Corrective Development of the Concepts of Soul, Forms and Immortality in Three Arguments of the Phaedo , Lewiston (NY) 1999, pp. 2-4, 139.
  64. See on these research debates Filip Karfík: Die Beseelung des Kosmos , Munich 2004, pp. 52–75; Anna Greco: Plato's Cyclical Argument for the Immortality of the Soul . In: Archive for the History of Philosophy 78, 1996, pp. 225-252; David Gallop: Plato's 'Cyclical Argument' Recycled . In: Phronesis 27, 1982, pp. 207-222.
  65. A brief overview of research is provided by Raymond N. Osei: The Argument for Recollection in the Phaedo: A Defense of the Standard Interpretation . In: Scholia 10, 2001, pp. 22–37, here: 22 f. See Catherine Osborne: Perceiving Particulars and Recollecting the Forms in the Phaedo . In: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society New Series 95, 1995, pp. 211-233; Lloyd P. Gerson: The Recollection Argument Revisited (72e-78b) . In: Jörn Müller (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Berlin 2011, pp. 63–74.
  66. ^ David Apolloni: Plato's Affinity Argument for the Immortality of the Soul . In: Journal of the History of Philosophy 34, 1996, pp. 5-32. Cf. Benedikt Strobel: The argument from the similarity (78b – 80e) . In: Jörn Müller (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Berlin 2011, pp. 75–96; Christopher Rowe: L'argument par “affinité” dans le Phédon . In: Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Etranger 181, 1991, pp. 463-477.
  67. Michael Pakaluk: The Ultimate Final Argument . In: The Review of Metaphysics 63, 2009/2010, pp. 643-677; Nicholas Denyer: The Phaedo's Final Argument . In: Dominic Scott (Ed.): Maieusis , Oxford 2007, pp. 87-96; Jürgen Wippern: Soul and number in Plato's Phaedo . In: Silvae. Festschrift for Ernst Zinn on his 60th birthday , Tübingen 1970, pp. 271–288, here: 271–279, 284–288; Dorothea Frede: The argument from the essential properties (102a – 107d) . In: Jörn Müller (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Berlin 2011, pp. 143–157; Jürg Freudiger: Socrates' last proof . In: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 104, 1997, pp. 52–63. See Denis O'Brien's analysis: The Last Argument of Plato's Phaedo . In: The Classical Quarterly 17, 1967, pp. 198-231 and 18, 1968, pp. 95-106.
  68. Plato, Phaedo 90d-91c.
  69. Rosamond Kent Sprague: Socrates' Safest Answer: Phaedo 100D . In: Hermes 96, 1968, pp. 632-635.
  70. ^ David L. Blank: Socrates' Instructions to Cebes: Plato, 'Phaedo' 101 d – e . In: Hermes 114, 1986, pp. 146-163; Christopher Rowe: Explanation in Phaedo 99 C 6–102 A 8 . In: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 11, 1993, pp. 49-69; Torsten Menkhaus: Eidos, Psyche and Immortality , Frankfurt 2003, pp. 148–168; Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 2004, pp. 350–365.
  71. ^ Evan L. Burge: The Ideas as Aitiai in the Phaedo . In: Phronesis 16, 1971, pp. 1-13; Ian Mueller: Platonism and the Study of Nature (Phaedo 95e ff.) In: Jyl Gentzler (Ed.): Method in Ancient Philosophy , Oxford 1998, pp. 67-89; Robert Bolton: Plato's Discovery of Metaphysics . In: Jyl Gentzler (ed.): Method in Ancient Philosophy , Oxford 1998, pp. 91–111; Shigeru Yonezawa: Are the Forms αἰτίαι in the 'Phaedo'? In: Hermes 119, 1991, pp. 37-42; Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 2004, pp. 365–370; Christopher Byrne: Forms and causes in Plato's Phaedo . In: Dionysius 13, 1989, pp. 3-15.
  72. David Sedley: Platonic Causes . In: Phronesis 43, 1998, pp. 114–132, here: 121.
  73. Michael Bordt : Platons Theologie , Freiburg 2006, pp. 242 f., 247; Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 2004, pp. 343–349.
  74. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 181; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 342-345; Hans Wagner : The peculiarity of the theory of ideas in Plato's Phaedo . In: Ingeborg Heidemann , Ernst Konrad Specht (ed.): Einheit und Sein , Cologne 1966, pp. 5–16, here: 9–12; Malcolm Brown: The Idea of ​​Equality in the Phaedo . In: Archive for the history of philosophy 54, 1972, pp. 24–36; David Sedley: Equal Sticks and Stones . In: Dominic Scott (Ed.): Maieusis , Oxford 2007, pp. 68-86.
  75. ^ Plato, Phaedo 77e.
  76. See Joachim Dalfen : Philologia and trust . In: Grazer Contributions 20, 1994, pp. 35–57; Michael Erler: "Socrates in the cave" . In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.): Understanding Platon , Darmstadt 2004, pp. 57–68, here: 62–68.
  77. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 180 f.
  78. Christina Schefer: Plato's untold experience. Another approach to Plato , Basel 2001, pp. 85 f., 136–154.
  79. Gerrit Kloss : Sokrates, a rooster for Asklepios and the care of souls offer overviews of the suggested interpretations and their problems . In: Gymnasium 108, 2001, pp. 223-239, here: 224-231 and Mark L. McPherran: Socrates, Crito, and their Debt to Asclepius . In: Ancient Philosophy 23, 2003, pp. 71–92, here: 73–78. Cf. Martin Marier: Le sens des dernières paroles de Socrate dans le Phédon de Platon . In: Revue de Philosophie Ancienne Vol. 28 No. 1, 2010, pp. 3–28, here: 3–5; Monique Dixsaut (translator): Plato: Phédon , Paris 1991, p. 408 f.
  80. Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Hamburg 1991, p. 206.
  81. James Crooks: Socrates' last words: another look at an ancient riddle . In: The Classical Quarterly 48, 1998, pp. 117-125.
  82. ^ Dorothea Frede: Plato's 'Phaidon' , 2nd edition, Darmstadt 2005, pp. 170–172.
  83. ^ Glenn W. Most : A Cock for Asclepius . In: The Classical Quarterly 43, 1993, pp. 96-111.
  84. Gerrit Kloss: Socrates, a rooster for Asclepius and the care of souls . In: Gymnasium 108, 2001, pp. 223-239.
  85. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 174; Dorothea Frede: Plato's 'Phaidon' , 2nd edition, Darmstadt 2005, p. 4 f.
  86. ^ Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici Greci e Latini (CPF) , Part 1, Vol. 1 ***, Firenze 1999, pp. 154-231.
  87. PPetrie I 5-8. See Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici Greci e Latini (CPF) , Part 1, Vol. 1 ***, Firenze 1999, pp. 159-193.
  88. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Clarke 39 (= "Codex B" of the Plato textual tradition).
  89. Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Hamburg 1991, p. VIII; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, pp. 178, 182; Theodor Ebert: Plato: Phaidon. Translation and commentary , Göttingen 2004, p. 7.
  90. Leendert G. Westerink : The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, p. 7.
  91. Filip Karfík: The soulfulness of the cosmos , Munich 2004, p. 19.
  92. ^ Heinrich Dörrie , Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 6.1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2002, p. 421.
  93. ^ Plato, Phaedo 67d.
  94. Aristotle, De generatione et corruptione 335b; Metaphysics 991b, 1080a. Cf. Thomas Buchheim (translator): Aristoteles: Über Werden und Vergehen , Darmstadt 2010, p. 529.
  95. Aristotle, Meteorology 355b – 356a.
  96. Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, p. 7.
  97. Diogenes Laertios 3.37 (with reference to Favorinus ). See Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1987, pp. 76 f., 282; Alice Swift Riginos: Platonica , Leiden 1976, pp. 180, 187; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 179; Theodor Ebert: Socrates as Pythagoreans and the anamnesis in Plato's Phaidon , Stuttgart 1994, p. 3 f.
  98. ^ Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, p. 8; Hans B. Gottschalk: Soul as Harmonia . In: Phronesis 16, 1971, pp. 179-198, here: 196-198.
  99. ^ Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes 1.84. See Ovid, Ibis 493 f.
  100. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Platonism in antiquity , vol. 2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1990, p. 46 f. (Text and translation of the epigram), 283–285 (commentary); Alice Swift Riginos: Platonica , Leiden 1976, pp. 181-183, 187.
  101. David Sedley: Plato's "Phaedo" in the Third Century BC In: Maria Serena Funghi (Ed.): Hodoi dizesios. Le vie de la ricerca , Firenze 1996, pp. 447-455; Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Platonism in antiquity , vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 186; Antonio Carlini: 107T . In: Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici Greci e Latini (CPF) , Part 1, Vol. 1 ***, Firenze 1999, pp. 503-505; Sebastian R. Ph. Gertz: Death and Immortality in Late Neoplatonism , Leiden 2011, pp. 150–168. On Straton's critique of the theory of immortality, see Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, pp. 7 f.
  102. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Platonism in antiquity , vol. 2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1990, p. 74 f. (Text and translation of the epigram), 320–323 (commentary).
  103. Peter Steinmetz : The Stoa . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , vol. 4: The Hellenistic philosophy , Basel 1994, pp. 491–716, here: 635 f.
  104. ^ Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antike , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 186.
  105. Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes 1,11,24.
  106. Seneca, Epistulae 24.6; Plutarch, Cato minor 68-70. Cf. Alice Swift Riginos: Platonica , Leiden 1976, pp. 183, 187.
  107. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 28 f., 186 f.
  108. Ovid, Tristiae 5: 12, 11-16.
  109. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 187.
  110. Manfred Fuhrmann : Seneca and Kaiser Nero , Berlin 1997, pp. 317-324.
  111. Philostratos , Vitae sophistarum 1,7.
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  113. Lukian, De morte Peregrini 37.
  114. Athenaios 11,505e.
  115. Diogenes Laertios 3.55; 3.58.
  116. See the overview in William C. Helmbold, Edward N. O'Neil: Plutarch's Quotations , Baltimore 1959, p. 58 f.
  117. Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, p. 11.
  118. ^ John Dillon : Harpocration's Commentary on Plato: Fragments of a Middle Platonic Commentary . In: California Studies in Classical Antiquity 4, 1971, pp. 125–146, here: 129–139, 145.
  119. Alkinous, Didaskalikos 25; Text and translation by Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 6.1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2002, pp. 134–141 (commentary on pp. 419–437).
  120. See generally on the Middle Platonic Phaidon reception Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 188–192.
  121. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 191.
  122. Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, p. 13.
  123. The relevant passages are compiled by Paul Henry, Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer (Ed.): Plotini opera , Vol. 3, Paris et al. 1973, p. 451.
  124. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 192.
  125. The fragments are critically edited, translated into English and commented on by John M. Dillon: Iamblichi Chalcidensis in Platonis dialogos commentariorum fragmenta , Leiden 1973, pp. 84–89, 239–244. See Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, p. 15 f.
  126. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antike , Vol. 2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1990, p. 108 f., 368 f.
  127. ^ Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in the Ancient World , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 192 f .; Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1, Amsterdam 1976, pp. 17-20. The surviving parts of the commentaries by Olympiodoros and Damascius have been critically edited and translated into English by Leendert G. Westerink: The Greek commentaries on Plato's Phaedo , Vol. 1 and 2, Amsterdam 1976–1977.
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  129. Filip Karfík: Die Beseelung des Kosmos , Munich 2004, pp. 48–51; Sebastian R. Ph. Gertz: Death and Immortality in Late Neoplatonism , Leiden 2011, p. 187 f.
  130. Charalambos Apostolopoulos: Phaedo Christianus , Frankfurt am Main 1986, pp. 3-18, 109.
  131. Augustine, De civitate dei 10.30.
  132. Richard Sorabji (ed.): Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science , Ithaca 1987, p. 232.
  133. Edited by Lorenzo Minio-Paluello: Phaedo interprete Henrico Aristippo (= Plato Latinus , Vol. 2), London 1950.
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  144. James Hankins: Plato in the Italian Renaissance , 3rd edition, Leiden 1994, pp. 468-470.
  145. Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Platon: Phaidon , Hamburg 1991, p. X f.
  146. Moses Mendelssohn: Phedon or about the immortality of the soul , ed. by Anne Pollok, Hamburg 2013, p. 62 f.
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