Piety and Annihilation in Plato’s Phaedo

Apeiron 52 (4):339-358 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


At the close of Plato’s Apology, Socrates argues that death is a benefit regardless of whether it results in annihilation or an afterlife. According to the standard interpretation, Socrates of the Phaedo rejects the idea that annihilation is a benefit, instead arguing that the soul is immortal and that annihilation would harm a philosopher. Socrates certainly suggests in a few passages that he would resent annihilation. In this paper, however, I argue that the Phaedo does not mark a significant shift in Socrates’ views about whether annihilation benefits. In both dialogues, he recognizes that if the gods choose to annihilate humans, they signal that human life is bad overall and that deprivation of a bad state is a benefit, albeit a benefit without an existing beneficiary. I contend that for Socrates, the possibility that humans benefit from annihilation entails neither the rationality of suicide nor the view that philosophers live miserable lives.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,098

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

40 (#410,818)

6 months
9 (#355,374)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Emily Austin
Wake Forest University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Soul’s (After-) Life.Rachana Kamtekar - 2016 - Ancient Philosophy 36 (1):115-132.
Socrates’ Bleak View of the Human Condition.Russell E. Jones - 2016 - Ancient Philosophy 36 (1):97-105.
Incurable Souls in Socratic Psychology.Nicholas D. Smith - 2002 - Ancient Philosophy 22 (1):21-36.

View all 6 references / Add more references