Both throughout their lifetime and after death, every human being has two sides that are separable. And there are benefits to any aspect of life. The incentive, on the other hand, may be either positive or negative. Punishments are one form of negative incentive. This is the general stance put forward by Plato in his concept of immortality of the soul. As a result, the spirit is thought to outlive the body even after death. This is best appreciated in the context of the different aspects of research discussed in this article. It’s worth noting, however, that some of these elements sound theological rather than metaphysical. Perhaps this is because of the sharing that is apparent in terms of beliefs, as between philosophy and religion. The aspects are can be used to understand the soul as an immortal part of life.
As seen in the introduction, every action accrues rewards or punishments. Since humans are not a making of this world, it is believed that they are accountable to some higher power. This higher power is what is believed to be God in religion. The higher power does not reside among us as humans physically. In other words, we only get to be accountable to him upon death. In our lifetime as well, we get rewarded or punished by the society by the society. This is where revenge, justice systems like the courts, gifts and gratitude come in during our lifetime.
It is true that we get rewarded for our actions which seem good before the society. However, this should not mean that we should only do good in anticipation of the rewards. In fact, goodness should be seen as an end action and not an action that is used as a means towards the reward. The quest to continue doing good even if it does not serve us positively at that instant is the fact that some day in death, we will be accountable before a higher power(Lutzer). The part of us that will appear before the higher power is the soul and not the flesh which does not die with the flesh.
The soul is basically pure right from birth. It only needs the flesh as a complimentary part without which it can still survive. Indeed, the contaminated form which the soul may assume is basically due to its association with the flesh. For this reason, the soul goes on living long after the flesh is dead. This purity of the soul is manifested in the constant quest for wisdom. The wisdom that the soul seeks to gain is used in separating what is good from what is not; in anticipation of the judgment that will come upon it after the flesh that harboured it is dead. This is what is called the hereafter.
The converse of rewards is punishment for evil. Everything has its evil side which, if not tamed, will lead it to eventual destruction. By saying everything, one may want to construe the meaning to include all things in the abstract and in reality; that is to say, both humans and actions. Humans should also be understood to mean the soul and the flesh separately. The soul does not do any action. The evils that accrue to the soul, therefore, are only as a result of its association with the body as seen earlier. As fronted by Plato, it is believed that it is the specific evil that is harboured in every individual thing that deteriorates it before eventually destroying it completely. It is the small weaknesses of the body that accumulate, if not tamed, into a greater darkness that finally leads one to commit some form of action that brings with it punishment.
The evils that are committed by humans are, therefore, not as a result of the darkness of the soul but the weakness of the flesh. This is because the soul is in constant search for wisdom and the goodness in anticipation of the hereafter(Plato). Additionally, there is no proof that the soul is made morally worse by the death of the body. By this logic, the soul only becomes contaminated by the evils committed by the flesh. Upon death, the flesh is seen to have come to its ultimate destruction. At this time, the soul is cleaned of the evils it picked as a result of the association with the body and continues to live, starting again as a clean one. A new body is picked (by the greater power or giver of life, for the soul) to continue living in.
Every form of existence on earth is in a constant cyclical motion that never stops. The pre-existence of our souls and the immortal nature can, therefore, be understood in this manner. We can conclude that our souls never cease to exist but only change where they exist. It is only the instant of existence that changes. Drawing from sleep which comes after staying awake, and staying awake coming after sleep, we can conclude that the soul exists before one is born, then exists again after death. In other words, since it is cyclic, at some point the soul must pass through that point of death before it comes back the life point(Mason).
This can further be explained in the argument of opposites. Everything comes out of its opposite. As the soul is the opposite of the flesh, they must remain in that position always. Thus, when the body dies, the soul does the opposite of dying; it stays alive.
There exist two separate worlds; at least as compounded by Socrates whose works cannot be separated from Plato as they worked virtually together in a teacher-student relationship. There is the world of forms and that of change. The world of forms is invisible, more reflective and is the one that rules over the world of change-the body. The soul is seen as the one that controls the body. It is invisible and is more reflective. All these are traits that are not found in the world of change, meaning the soul belongs to the world of forms. Since things in the world of forms are immutable, so should be the soul. It lives eternally.
The idea of separate worlds can also be understood by the fact that different Forms can exist in the same subject. That is to say that, it is possible to have both worlds exist in the same object or subject at the same time. The soul and the body are two different worlds with the former only deriving life from the association it forges with the latter. This means the soul cannot admit death when its associate in life dies. When its partner-body-dies, the soul can look for another partner, get into another association and continue living. By doing this, it keeps living eternally, although in different bodies.
Knowledge of comparisons
Whereas we learn things that we are taught by our teachers, some of the things that we inculcate in us as knowledge is not taught or learnt from others. The knowledge of comparisons is actually innate in that we are born with it rather than learn it from someone. Aspects like equality fall under such innate knowledge that we do not need to learn from somewhere. This is different from particulars which get forgotten at death, giving rise to the need to learn again after birth.
This knowledge shows that part of us (the soul, as it is the reflective part) pre-exists before long before the body comes to life. This pre-existence means that the two do not relate to each other in terms of life and death and the death of one does not have to mean they both die.
Lutzer, Erwin W. Heaven and the Afterlife: The Truth about Tomorrow and What it Means for Today. Moody Publishers, 2016.
Mason, Anderson. Plato. Routledge, 2014.
Plato. Phaedo; Or: The Immortality of the Soul, by Plato. 1854, n.d.