Philosophical Arguments for Immortality

“It is our duty to select the best and most dependable theory that human intelligence can supply, and use it as a raft to ride the seas of life.” ― Plato

Is the soul immortal? It is perhaps no wonder that questions about the immortality of the soul may be very difficult to answer if someone takes that response at face value. After the long history of experiments scientists begin to recognise the implications, and that “the soul is immortal and exists outside of space and time” (Lanza 2011).

In this regard the belief in an immortal soul is one of the most referenced topics in the Bible, and we must understand the context and terms used to support their belief – in part because these views are often very abstract and theoretical. Although religions were concerned about its existence, how do we know that the soul exists?

The general terms of life and consciousness are well known, although widely different interpretations of the issue are filtered through a persons mind from scientific arguments and on the evolution of biblical consciousness to the existentialist development of the rationalism. How significant is to prove the soul’s existence?

The term soul is broad in scope and encompasses various ideas, meanings, beliefs and values people learn as part of their journey through life. Soul comes from the Greek word “psychē” meaning “life” or “consciousness”. In relation to this, it becomes clear that the depiction of the truth about the existence of souls by Plato is not a worthless artistic choice, but rather is a concept that encompasses ideas and especially their attached values; in different ways and differing levels of depth. Is there anything in life as important as the belief in a continued existence after death?

It’s a complex and difficult subject, therefore, an incredible challenge lied before most Greek philosophers, though in different ways, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were the most influential. As such it was simply a doctrine, and Plato’s thinking was to argue “in favor of the convenience of accepting the belief in immortality” (Andrade 2011).

In Plato‘s Phaedo, Socrates spoke to his disciples, and just before he drunk the poison hemlock, gave a good explanation for the world and brought philosophical arguments in favor of immortality. Therefore, Socrates seems certain about the understanding of the reality of the soul and that he can survive the death of his own physical body.

So there you are, deadlocked in the main arguments to support his position about its existence, torn between the existence of souls and striped cotton bodies of energy and wondering, which qualities are the true treasures in my life that uplifted my soul?

Do our souls exist beyond our bodies? Where do the facts lie? If the answer is supposed to be ‘yes’ from the arguments about the soul section, what does someone needs to know about these things? What are the qualities which all narrow down to what will be required to live a life of faith; real life experiences that help to attach true value to them, and to grow in these true treasures that satisfies the soul and spirit.

SOCRATES: My purpose is that you may agree with me. Now it seems to me that
not only Tallness itself is never willing to be tall and short at the same time, but also that the tallness in us will never admit the short or be overcome, but one of two things happens: either it flees and retreats when-ever its opposite, the short, approaches, or it is destroyed by its approach. It is not willing to endure and admit shortness and be other than it was, whereas I admit and endure shortness and still remain the same person and am this short man. But Tallness, being tall, cannot venture to be small. 103 In the same way, the short in us is unwilling to become or to be tall ever, nor does any other of the opposites become or be its opposite while still being what it was; either it goes away or is destroyed when that happens.

CEBES: —I altogether agree, said Cebes.

PHAEDO: When he heard this, someone of those present—I have no clear memory of who it was—said: “By the gods, did we not agree earlier in our discussion to the very opposite of what is now being said, namely, that the larger came from the smaller and the smaller from the larger, and that this simply was how opposites came to be, from their opposites, but now 1 think we are saying that this would never happen?”

SOCRATES: On hearing this, Socrates inclined his head towards the speaker and said: “You have bravely reminded us, but you do not understand the difference between what is said now and what was said then, which was that an opposite thing came from an opposite thing; now we say that the opposite itself could never become opposite to itself, neither that in us nor that in nature. Then, my friend, we were talking of things that have opposite qualities and naming these after them, but now we say that these opposites themselves, from the presence of which in them things get their name, never can tolerate the coming to be from one another.” At the same time he looked to Cebes and said: “Does anything of what this man says also disturb you?”

CEBES: Not at the moment, said Cebes, but I do not deny that many things do disturb me.

SOCRATES: We are altogether agreed then, he said, that an opposite will never be
opposite to itself.

CEBES: —Entirely agreed.

SOCRATES: Consider then whether you will agree to this further point. There is
something you call hot and something you call cold.

CEBES: —There is.

SOCRATES: Are they the same as what you call snow and fire?

CEBES: —By Zeus, no.

SOCRATES: So the hot is something other than fire, and the cold is something other than snow?

CEBES: —Yes.

SOCRATES: You think, I believe, that being snow it will not admit the hot, as we said before, and remain what it was and be both snow and hot, but when the hot approaches it will either retreat before it or be destroyed.

CEBES: —Quite so.

SOCRATES: So fire, as the cold approaches, will either go away or be destroyed; it will never venture to admit coldness and remain what it was, fire and cold.

CEBES: —What you say is true.

SOCRATES: It is true then about some of these things that not only the Form itself deserves its own name for all time, but there is something else that is not the Form but has its character whenever it exists. Perhaps I can make my meaning clearer: the Odd must always be given this name we now mention. Is that not so?

CEBES: —Certainly.

SOCRATES: Is it the only one of existing things to be called odd?—this is my ques- 104 tion—or is there something else than the Odd which one must nevertheless also always call odd, as well as by its own name, because it is such by nature as never to be separated from the Odd? I mean, for example, the number three and many others. Consider three: do you not think that it must always be called both by its own name and by that of the Odd, which is not the same as three? That is the nature of three, and of five, and of half of all the numbers; each of them is odd, but it is not the Odd. Then again, two and four and the whole other column of numbers; each of them, while not being the same as the Even, is always even. Do you not agree?

CEBES: —Of course.

SOCRATES: Look now. What I want to make clear is this: not only do those opposites not admit each other, but this is also true of those things which, while not being opposite to each other yet always contain the opposites, and it seems that these do not admit that Form which is opposite to that which is in them; when it approaches them, they either perish or give way. Shall we not say that three will perish or undergo anything before, while remaining three, becoming even?

CEBES: —Certainly, said Cebes.

SOCRATES: Yet surely two is not the opposite of three?

CEBES: —Indeed it is not.

SOCRATES: It is then not only opposite Forms that do not admit each other’s approach, but also some other things that do not admit the onset of opposites.

CEBES: —Very true.

SOCRATES: Do you then want us, if we can, to define what these are?

CEBES: —I surely do.

SOCRATES: Would they be the things that are compelled by whatever occupies
them not only to contain that thing’s Form but also always that of some opposite?

CEBES: —How do you mean?

SOCRATES: As we were saying just now, you surely know that what the Form of
three occupies must not only be three but also odd.

CEBES: —Certainly.

SOCRATES: And we say that the opposite Form to the Form that achieves this result could never come to it.

CEBES: —It could not.

SOCRATES: Now it is Oddness that has done this?

CEBES: —Yes.

SOCRATES: And opposite to this is the Form of the Even?

CEBES: —Yes.

SOCRATES: So then the Form of the Even will never come to three?

CEBES: —Never.

SOCRATES: So three is uneven?

CEBES: —Yes.

SOCRATES: As for what I said we must define, that is, what kind of things, while not being opposites to something, yet do not admit the opposite, as for example the triad, though it is not the opposite of the Even, yet does not 105 admit it because it always brings along the opposite of the Even, and so the dyad in relation to the Odd, fire to the Cold, and very many other things, see whether you would define it thus: Not only does the opposite not admit its opposite, but that which brings along some opposite into that which it occupies, that which brings this along will not admit the opposite to that which it brings along. Refresh your memory, it is no worse for being heard often. Five does not admit the form of the Even, nor will ten, its double, admit the form of the Odd. The double itself is an opposite of something else, yet it will not admit the form of the Odd. Nor do one-and-a-half and other such fractions admit the form of the Whole, nor will one-third, and so on, if you follow me and agree to this.

CEBES: —I certainly agree, he said, and I follow you.

SOCRATES: Tell me again from the beginning, he said, and do not answer in the words of the question, but do as 1 do. I say that beyond that safe answer, which I spoke of first, i see another safe answer. If you should ask me what, coming into a body, makes it hot, my reply would not be that safe and ignorant one, that it is heat, but our present argument provides a more sophisticated answer, namely, fire, and if you ask me what, on coming into a body, makes it sick, I will not say sickness but fever. Nor, if asked the presence of what in a number makes it odd, I will not say oddness but oneness, and so with other things. See if you now sufficiently understand what I want.

CEBES: —Quite sufficiently.

SOCRATES: Answer me then, he said, what is it that, present in a body, makes it living?

CEBES: —A soul.

SOCRATES: And is that always so?

CEBES: —Of course.

SOCRATES: Whatever the soul occupies, it always brings life to it?

CEBES: —It does.

SOCRATES: Is there, or is there not, an opposite to life?

CEBES: —There is.

SOCRATES: What is it?

CEBES: —Death.

SOCRATES: So the Soul will never admit the opposite of that which it brings along, as we agree from what has been said?

CEBES: —Most certainly, said Cebes.

SOCRATES: Well, and what do we call that which does not admit the form of the

CEBES: —The uneven.

SOCRATES: What do we call that which will not admit the just and that which will not admit the musical?

CEBES: —The unmusical, and the other the unjust.

SOCRATES: Very well, what do we call that which does not admit death?

CEBES: —The deathless, he said.

SOCRATES: Now the soul does not admit death?


SOCRATES: So the soul is deathless?

CEBES: —It is.

SOCRATES: Very well, he said. Shall we say that this has been proved, do you think?

CEBES: —Quite adequately proved, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Well now, Cebes, he said, if the uneven were of necessity indestructible, surely three would be indestructible?

CEBES: —Of course.

SOCRATES: And if the non-hot were of necessity indestructible, then whenever anyone brought heat to snow, the snow would retreat safe and unthawed, for it could not be destroyed, nor again could it stand its ground and admit the heat?

CEBES: —What you say is true.

SOCRATES: In the same way, if the non-cold were indestructible, then when some cold attacked the fire, it would neither be quenched nor destroyed, but retreat safely.

CEBES: —Necessarily.

SOCRATES: Must then the same not be said of the deathless? If the deathless is also indestructible, it is impossible for the soul to be destroyed when death comes upon it. For it follows from what has been said that it will not admit death or be dead, just as three, we said, will not be even nor will the odd; nor will fire be cold, nor the heat that is in the fire. But, someone might say, what prevents the odd, while not becoming even as has been agreed, from being destroyed, and the even to come to be instead? We could not maintain against the man who said this that it is not destroyed, for the uneven is not indestructible. If we had agreed that it was indestructible we could easily have maintained that at the coming of the even, the odd and the three have gone away and the same would hold for fire and the hot and the other things.

CEBES: —Surely.

SOCRATES: And so now, if we are agreed that the deathless is indestructible, the soul, besides being deathless, is indestructible. If not, we need another argument.

CEBES: —There is no need for one as far as that goes, for hardly anything could resist destruction if the deathless, which lasts forever, would admit destruction.

SOCRATES: All would agree, said Socrates, that the god, and the Form of life itself, and anything that is deathless, are never destroyed.

CEBES: —All men would agree, by Zeus, to that, and the gods, I imagine, even more so.

SOCRATES: If the deathless is indestructible, then the soul, if it is deathless, would also be indestructible?

CEBES: —Necessarily.

SOCRATES: Then when death comes to man, the mortal part of him dies, it seems, but his deathless part goes away safe and indestructible, yielding the place to death.

CEBES: —So it appears.

SOCRATES: Therefore the sou], Cebes, he said, is most certainly deathless and indestructible and our souls will really dwell in the underworld.

CEBES: I have nothing more to say against that, Socrates, said Cebes, nor can I doubt your arguments. If Simmias here or someone else has something to say, he should not remain silent, for 1 do not know to what further occasion other than the present he could put it off if he wants to say or to hear anything on these subjects.

SIMMIAS: —Certainly, said Simmias, I myself have no remaining grounds for doubt after what has been said; nevertheless, in view of the importance of our subject and my low opinion of human weakness, I am bound still to have some private misgivings about what we have said.

SOCRATES: You are not only right to say this, Simmias, Socrates said, but our first hypotheses require clearer examination, even though we find them convincing. And if you analyze them adequately, you will, I think, follow the argument as far as a man can and if the conclusion is clear, you will look no further.

SIMMIAS: —That is true.

SOCRATES: It is right to think then, gentlemen, that if the soul is immortal, it requires our care not only for the time we call our life, but for the sake of all time, and that one is in terrible danger if one does not give it that care. If death were escape from everything, it would be a great boon to the wicked to get rid of the body and of their wickedness together with their soul. But now that the soul appears to be immortal, there is no escape from evil or salvation for it except by becoming as good and wise as possible, for the soul goes to the underworld possessing nothing but its education and upbringing, which are said to bring the greatest benefit or harm to the dead right at the beginning of the journey yonder.

We are told that when each person dies, the guardian spirit who was allotted to him in life proceeds to lead him to a certain place, whence those who have been gathered together there must, after being judged, proceed to the underworld with the guide who has been appointed to lead them thither from here. Having there undergone what they must and stayed there the appointed time, they are led back here by another guide after 108 long periods of time.

The journey is not as Aeschylus’ Telephus 15 describes it. He says that only one single path leads to Hades, but I think it is neither one nor simple, for then there would be no need of guides; one could not make any mistake if there were but one path. As it is, it is likely to have many forks and crossroads; and I base this judgment on the sacred rites and customs here.

The well-ordered and wise soul follows the guide and is not without familiarity with its surroundings, but the soul that is passionately attached to the body, as I said before, hovers around it and the visible world for a long time, struggling and suffering much until it is led away by force and with difficulty by its appointed spirit. When the impure soul which has performed some impure deed joins the others after being involved in unjust killings, or committed other crimes which are akin to these and are actions of souls of this kind, everybody shuns it and turns away, unwilling to be its fellow traveller or its guide; such a soul wanders alone completely at a loss until a certain time arrives and it is forcibly led to its proper dwelling place. On the other hand, the soul that has led a pure and moderate life finds fellow travellers and gods to guide it, and each of them dwells in a place suited to it.


Plato. PHAEDO. Available from: [Accessed 22nd July 2018]

Andrade, Gabriel. Immortality. Venezuela. Available from: [Accessed 22nd July 2018]

Wikipedia. Plato. Available from: [Accessed 23rd July 2018]

Hell Truth. Plato and the Immortal Soul. Available from: [Accessed 24th July 2018]

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