Suicide, Knowledge And Immortality

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What is the reality of suicide? What is the meaning of obtaining truth and knowledge? How can we know if the soul's immortality is fact or fiction? Do people know what is good? These types of questions follow the spectrum of ideas and methods used in the first ethical Greek philosopher, Socrates’ way of thinking. These are things that often induce heavy pondering. Though our curiosity may bring us to sharp corners, the insights discovered and obtained will prove betterment for us. Socrates' way of life is based on the main principle of Philosophy, the loving of wisdom and obtaining truth. The intriguing theories and information told by Socrates existing in ancient times is still looked at and studied today. Those who take their own lives do not fear death, yet are still acting on thoughts of the unknown. In Socrates’ Phaedo, he states the soul is immortal, and that death is good and shall not be feared, but suicide is evil since it goes against the Gods’ plans for us. In his time, he talks heavily about the search for truth and wisdom, and that philosophers spend their entire lives searching for their truth and wisdom to carry out their soul after death and separation from the body. Learning was the most important thing concerning Socrates. Socrates thinks that it is an essential property of the soul to be alive. So, the soul cannot have the opposite property, which is being dead. So, the soul cannot die.

Our mind is a unique and hidden temple for our deepest desires, needs, and thoughts. Socrates once said, “to find yourself, you must think for yourself”, meaning no one can discover ourselves and find our true knowledge and truth except for our mind. Everything kept in our mind is solely known by yourself, it is your choice to share as much or as little. Most people who take their own lives believe that doing so is their only solution. Socrates says in the Phaedo that, “the gods' possessions have no right to kill themselves.” As human beings, we are gods’ possessions which leave us with no right to take our own life and abandoning our friends and families by resorting to pain and/or pleasure. A sagacious man stating death is good, and suicide is evil must lead us to assume the nature by which such action is followed through. Therefore, they must be unable to think in a way that can make them escape their mind. That is why having knowledge and truth is important to well-being. Also, this brings up the question of what makes life immortal, or worth living. The deep negative thoughts being circulated in one’s mind during a suicide attempt may be darker than we can fathom. Mainly due to the hidden nature of an individual’s mind and perception during these intense situations. The mind can be misguided through depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder. These illnesses are needed to be empathized for and treated with the utmost fragility. Some suicides also are closely related to family issues, or the lack of presence from a family. As media is endlessly being absorbed into our minds, we build assumptions and gain true and false information that mold our perception of our nation/society and understandings of life. The reality of suicide is in fact, I know seen as a bad thing due to our minds being clouded by evil thoughts and perceptions of the world around us and of ourselves. It is also perceived as immoral, saddening, and morbid. Lastly, the suicide of Socrates proves to show that throughout his life he prepared for death by obtaining knowledge and truth through thinking, asking questions, and staying away from bodily pleasures since the soul lives on forever infinitely in proceeding bodies. Socrates uses his death by forced suicide from poisoning as a final lesson for his pupils rather than fleeing when the opportunity arises and faces it calmly. The reality of suicide is seen wholely as immoral by Socrates and Cebes in the Phaedo and evil/sin by the Catholic Church.

This follows the concept of thinking and knowledge. The life of Socrates has been guided by an inner-voice, telling him what was right. As humans, we must differentiate what is right from wrong and that only learning can help give us a clear understanding of such. The act of thinking and asking questions is seen in Socrates’ Recollection argument in Phaedo. Failing to search for knowledge and truth in life can lead to a soul separating without purpose.It is an explanation of how we arrive at knowing things. In the second argument of recollection, Socrates claims,

“For any question, either you know the answer or you don’t. If you know the answer, then the inquiry is unnecessary. If you don’t know the answer, you’ll have no way of recognizing the correct answer when it presents itself — for if you don’t know what the correct answer is, how will you distinguish it from false answers? So if you don’t know the answer, an inquiry is impossible.”

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This claim by Socrates holds today, if I am taking a test and am unaware of an answer to a question and the choices are visible, there is no way of knowing the right answer from wrong. For someone to seek well-being they cannot be in a pessimistic state, but rather enlightened. Moreso, the desire for self-betterment must have come from a mindful state of retrogression. In Socrates’ Theory of Knowledge, he says “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” Socrates emphasized knowledge all his life because he believed that “the ability to distinguish between right and wrong lies in people's reason, not in society”(Kamruzzaman). What is being said here by Socrates is that the only way to attain knowledge is through disciplined conversation and not through adaptations or perceived notions in society. However, a person performs in a wrong way not know the evil he or she is practicing because the person believes that particular action of his or her will bring happiness and the person does this out of ignorance. Through dialect, “Socrates exposed all the knowledge of a person about a particular subject, and if the person were inaccurate about something, he would make it correct by introducing the person with his or her “misdirected opinion” and at the same time with the real knowledge about a subject matter or an idea”(Kamruzzaman). This can become confusing since all people are different and do not share the same knowledge of a particular subject matter. For example, Socrates explains that there are two definitions of anything, the particular and the universal. So nature is seen as particularly beautiful because it is linked with the broad concept of beauty since nothing is perfectly beautiful. “Virtue is knowledge, and vice is ignorance”, a belief of Socrates, which follows the opposite proof. It is the concept of sensing goodness, and since the two coincide, one cannot act wrongfully without knowing doing so. To conclude with Socrates’ sayings, we must know the good to do the good, and if we commit an evil act not knowing it is evil, it isn’t classified as such because the knowledge of its nature is unknown.

Since ancient times, there has been a debate in the field of philosophy, of whether individuals continue to live after death. An individual's identity is a unique thing about someone, which differentiates them from the rest. People relate the soul to personality. At times, is associated with the mind. Since the soul is spiritual as opposed to physical. Thus, the soul is immortal because it continues to live independently even after an individual dies. If only memory survives after death it makes sense that we can reflect on life after death. Socrates conceives that the soul cannot be alive without having the opposite property, death. He argued that death is the start of immortality and death does not indicate the end of existence, rather the separation of body and soul. Socrates offers four arguments for the soul's immortality: Opposites to Opposites, Recollection, Affinity, and Form of Life. In the Opposites to Opposites proof of the souls immortality in the Phaedo, Socrates observes that death is the opposite of life. Socrates believes that slowness comes from quickness just as quickness comes from slowness, that being asleep comes from being awake just as being awake comes from being asleep. If this holds,

“the living have come from the dead no less than the dead from the living. But I think we decided that if this was so, it was a sufficient proof that the souls of the dead must exist in some place from which they are reborn.”

This implies that something that comes to be living after first being dead. He is trying to show that in turn, we must exist in death. The Theory of Recollection explains that we possess some non-empirical knowledge at birth, implying the soul existed before birth or from a memory in a prior-life to carry that knowledge. In the Affinity argument, Socrates shows that the soul most resembles that which is invisible and divine, and the body takes after the opposite. So this means the soul must outlast the body. In Socrates’ final proof, the Form of Life, he says that the soul must be immortal because it is the cause of life. In the Phaedo Socrates states, 'if there is anything beautiful other than absolute beauty it is beautiful only insofar as it partakes of absolute beauty'. Since he suggests the soul is an essence of life, it would be unbelievable to say the soul is anything other than alive.

According to Socrates, the concept of suicide is considered evil. The irrational way of thinking in someone who is suicidal can be connected to Socrates’ theory of knowledge and the recollection argument. For someone to be right about the act of suicide they must possess some knowledge on how suicide is the solution. The potential of gaining truth and knowledge through life can be obtained through having intrapersonal disciplined conversations with corrected dialogue in the subject matter. We may never know if our souls are immortal until we die because the same mind in which our souls existed in according to Socrates is not the same one that will eternally be reincarnated. However, the art of dying was forever prepared for in Socrates’ life and most philosophers.

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