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phaedo   


be a sort of disease which is the beginning of dissolution, and may at

last, after the toils of life are over, end in that which is called

death. And whether the soul enters into the body once only or many

times, that, as you would say, makes no difference in the fears of

individuals. For any man, who is not devoid of natural feeling, has

reason to fear, if he has no knowledge or proof of the soul's

immortality. That is what I suppose you to say, Cebes, which I

designedly repeat, in order that nothing may escape us, and that you

may, if you wish, add or subtract anything.

But, said Cebes, as far as I can see at present, I have nothing to

add or subtract; you have expressed my meaning.

Socrates paused awhile, and seemed to be absorbed in reflection.

At length he said: This is a very serious inquiry which you are

raising, Cebes, involving the whole question of generation and

corruption, about which I will, if you like, give you my own

experience; and you can apply this, if you think that anything which I

say will avail towards the solution of your difficulty.

I should very much like, said Cebes, to hear what you have to say.

Then I will tell you, said Socrates. When I was young, Cebes, I

had a prodigious desire to know that department of philosophy which is

called Natural Science; this appeared to me to have lofty aims, as

being the science which has to do with the causes of things, and which

teaches why a thing is, and is created and destroyed; and I was always

agitating myself with the consideration of such questions as these: Is

the growth of animals the result of some decay which the hot and

cold principle contracts, as some have said? Is the blood the

element with which we think, or the air, or the fire? or perhaps

nothing of this sort-but the brain may be the originating power of the

perceptions of hearing and sight and smell, and memory and opinion may

come from them, and science may be based on memory and opinion when no

longer in motion, but at rest. And then I went on to examine the decay

of them, and then to the things of heaven and earth, and at last I

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