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phaedo   


feel, as I do, how very hard or almost impossible is the attainment of

any certainty about questions such as these in the present life. And

yet I should deem him a coward who did not prove what is said about

them to the uttermost, or whose heart failed him before he had

examined them on every side. For he should persevere until he has

attained one of two things: either he should discover or learn the

truth about them; or, if this is impossible, I would have him take the

best and most irrefragable of human notions, and let this be the

raft upon which he sails through life-not without risk, as I admit, if

he cannot find some word of God which will more surely and safely

carry him. And now, as you bid me, I will venture to question you,

as I should not like to reproach myself hereafter with not having said

at the time what I think. For when I consider the matter either

alone or with Cebes, the argument does certainly appear to me,

Socrates, to be not sufficient.

Socrates answered: I dare say, my friend, that you may be right, but

I should like to know in what respect the argument is not sufficient.

In this respect, replied Simmias: Might not a person use the same

argument about harmony and the lyre-might he not say that harmony is a

thing invisible, incorporeal, fair, divine, abiding in the lyre

which is harmonized, but that the lyre and the strings are matter

and material, composite, earthy, and akin to mortality? And when

someone breaks the lyre, or cuts and rends the strings, then he who

takes this view would argue as you do, and on the same analogy, that

the harmony survives and has not perished; for you cannot imagine,

as we would say, that the lyre without the strings, and the broken

strings themselves, remain, and yet that the harmony, which is of

heavenly and immortal nature and kindred, has perished-and perished

too before the mortal. The harmony, he would say, certainly exists

somewhere, and the wood and strings will decay before that decays. For

I suspect, Socrates, that the notion of the soul which we are all of

us inclined to entertain, would also be yours, and that you too

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