As I was reading Phaedo I came across a quote Socrates said. He tells Cebes to go and tell Evenus that he would be wise to follow him into the afterlife soon. This is an interesting quote as Socrates is basically saying that it is better to be dead than alive.
This claim at first sight appear as though Socrates solely wants to die and be left in peace. However, upon further examination it can be said that Socrates believes his body is restricting himself from becoming a true philosopher. Death in Socrates’s point of view is the final step into fully acquiring knowledge at the expense of the bodily pleasures. This is quite an odd proposition from a man about to die who seems to embrace it as an old friend. Naturally his fellow philosophers are at first confused by this statement, but over time realize that this may have some truth behind it.
Socrates’s quote caught my attention as it even caught his fellow philosophers off-guard. A theory like this is one that they will have to ponder and it appears as though this rationale is correct in that doing so makes you a true philosopher. If you are really trying to pursue knowledge for leisure, than dying and not having anything to prevent you from doing so would be the final step. This claim would be accepted after some time by the philosophers, yet by others would make no sense. If you are no longer living, how could you continue to pursue knowledge? What these people fail to recognize is that the soul will live on after death so that this pursuit is still possible. At first, this appeared to challenge what philosophy’s purpose is because of the after-death portion, but after careful consideration it actually explains philosophy better than ever before.