The Theory of Forms

Of those we have known, Socrates is the Best and Wisest

The Phaedo portrays the conversation Socrates had in the company of some of his friends on the day of his death. His primary interlocutors, Simmias and Cebes, are Pythagoreans. Socrates explains to them why he, as a "lover of wisdom" (φιλόσοφος), does not fear death. Pythagoras founded his school in Croton in about 530 BCE.

Simmias and Cebes are students of Philolaus (Phaedo 61d). Philolaus was a Pythagorean from Croton (in what is now the south of Italy) and a contemporary of Socrates.

In the Crito, at 45b, Simmias and Cebes are said to have brought money to aid Socrates in escaping from jail.

The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David, 1787. The Death of Socrates

Plato is seated at the end of the bed. Socrates points to the heavens and reaches for the hemlock. His friends are weeping.

Socrates, in the Phaedo, tells Crito not to forget that "we owe a cock to Asclepius" (in gratitude, it seems, for healing the illness he suffers by living in a body). Crito replies that "[i]t shall be done." He asks Socrates whether he has "anything else to say," but Socrates does not reply. He has died, and Phaedo (who is recalling Socrates' last day) brings the dialogue to a close: "[s]uch was the end of our comrade, a man who, we would say, was of all those we have known, the best, and also the wisest and most righteous" (Phaedo 118a).

"I [Phaedo] was not filled with pity as I might naturally be when present at the death of a friend [Socrates]; since he seemed to me to be happy (εὐδαίμων), both in his bearing and his words, he was meeting death so fearlessly and nobly. And so I thought that even in going to the abode of the dead he was not going without the protection of the gods, and that when he arrived there it would be well with him, if it ever was well with anyone" (Phaedo 58e).

  "Then is it not a sufficient indication, when you see a man troubled because he is going to die, that he was not a lover of wisdom (φιλόσοφος) but a lover of the body? And this same man is also a lover of money and of honor, one or both.
  Certainly, Socrates, it is as you say" (Phaedo 68b).

He tells them that death is the separation of the soul from the body, that the body imprisons the soul and stands in the way of knowledge, but that if in life (when it exists in the body), the soul practices the love of wisdom properly, then in death (when it exists separately from the body), the soul will have the knowledge of the "forms" the lover of wisdom seeks in life.

This seems to be Plato's explanation for why Socrates meet his death without fear. In this explanation, we can separate the specific belief in the afterlife Plato imagines for Socrates from his attempt to understand what Socrates was doing in living in the unusually ascetic way he did and in devoting himself to knowing what virtue and the virtues of character are.

Contemplating the Forms

As Plato understands him in the Phaedo, Socrates is after knowledge of the forms. Although the character does not do so in the Phaedo, it is traditional to describe the thinking in which someone beholds and has knowledge of the forms as "contemplation" (θεωρία).

In its ordinary use, the Greek noun θεωρία means a "looking at, viewing, or beholding." It transliterates as theoria and is the root of the English noun theory. The translation of θεωρία as "contemplation" follows the practice of translating θεωρία into Latin as contemplatio.

This practice goes back to Cicero. He tells a story in which Pythagoras explains the meaning of the term φιλόσοφος to ruler of the city of Phlius. In the story, which may well be fictional, Pythagoras tells the ruler that the φιλόσοφος is someone "in whose life the contemplation and grasping of things far surpass all other pursuits" (Tusculan Disputations V.9).

So to "contemplate" the forms is to behold and know them but not in the way we know something by seeing it with our eyes. We know the forms in "theoretical" thinking. Socrates, as Plato seems to understand him, engages in such thinking. In the Euthyphro, for example, in his search for what piety is, he proceeds dialectically by question and answer so as to identify the various assumptions and inferences in the arguments. He is search, however, never finishes. His interlocutor always gives up first, and the dialogue ends in ἀπορία or "lack of passage."

The Life of the Soul after Death

Plato ties the thinking in which Socrates engages to a conception of the soul according to which the life of the soul after death need not be grim, as it is in Homer, if the soul cleanses and purifies itself while it is in the body. The evidence is limited, but this seems to be the view of the soul in the religious cults associated with Dionysus and Orpheus and also in Pythagoreanism.

In several places in the dialogues, Plato places Socrates within this non-Homeric tradition about the afterlife of the soul. In the Apology, for example, Socrates says that he would be "willing to die many times over" if it meant he could examine Orpheus and others in the afterlife (41a). "Some say [the body (σῶμα)] is the tomb of the soul, their notion being that the soul is buried in the present life; and again, because by its means the soul gives any signs which it gives, it is for this reason also properly called (σῆμα) [a word that means "sign" and in some contexts means "tomb" or sign of the dead] But I think it most likely that the Orphic poets gave this name, with the idea that the soul is undergoing punishment for something; they think it has the body as an enclosure to keep it safe, like a prison, and this is, as the name itself denotes, the body for the soul, until the penalty is paid, and not even a letter needs to be changed" (Cratylus 400b).

"In Lydia is the tomb (σῆμα) of Alyattes, the father of Croesus, the base of which is made of great stones and the rest of it of mounded earth" (Herodotus, Histories I.93).

"I once heard sages say that we are now dead, and the body is our tomb (σῆμα), and the part of the soul in which out appetites reside is liable to be over-persuaded and to vacillate to and fro, and so some clever man, a teller of stories, a Sicilian, perhaps, or Italian, named this part a jar (πίθον), its being so persuadable (πιθανόν) and suggestible, thus slightly changing the name. And fools he called uninitiated (ἀμυήτους), suggesting [by the similarity of the verb μυέω (from which ἀμυήτους derives) and the verb μύω ("be shut")] that the part of the soul of fools where their appetites are located is their undisciplined part, not tightly closed, a leaking jar, as it were, it being insatiable. Now this man, Callicles, contrary to your view [about who is happy (εὐδαίμων)], shows that of those in Hades, ... these, the uninitiated, would be the most miserable" (Gorgias 493a).

Herodotus thinks that "the "practices called Orphic (Ὀρφικοῖσι) and Bacchic (Βακχικοῖσι)" are Egyptian and were brought back by Pythagoras (Histories II.81).

In his Hippolytus, Euripides suggests that the Orphics are an ascetic religious sect that ate a vegetarian diet and had a reputation for hypocrisy. "[T]ake up a diet of greens and play the showman with your food, make Orpheus your lord and engage in mystic rites of Bacchus (βάκχευε), holding the vaporings of many books in honor. For you have been found out. To all I give the warning: avoid men like this. For they make you their prey with their high-holy-sounding words while they contrive deeds of shame" (953).
In the Gorgias, he says that he has heard that "we are now dead" and that the "body is our tomb" (493a). In the Meno, in connection with the Theory of Recollection, he says that he has heard from "certain priests and priestesses" that "the soul of man is immortal, and at one time comes to an end, which is called dying, and at another is born again, but never perishes" (81a).

In the Phaedo, Plato has Socrates tie the soul in the afterlife to its conduct while in the body. As we began to see in the previous lecture in the discussion of the ontological thesis in the Theory of Recollection, Plato has Socrates explain that those who pursue the love of wisdom correctly are separating themselves from the body and thus practicing in life for their existence in death (61c, 63b, 63e). This, Plato makes him go on to suggest, is the truth that informs the rites for purifying the soul in the cult of Dionysus that its practitioners have been describing in riddles.

Virtue is a Cleansing of the Soul

The lover of wisdom does not live as one of the many because unlike them, he does not live his life thinking that pleasure is the good and pain is the bad. He thinks instead that to live the good life, he must forgo certain pleasures and stand up to certain pains so that he can arrange his life around knowing the forms and thus come as close as possible to having wisdom.

The virtues of character "cleanse" the soul of its old ways of living in terms of pleasure and pain. Further, in the Phaedo, unlike in the early dialogues, the point of possessing the virtues of character seems to be to free the soul from the body so that it can think about the forms.

"I suspect that this is not the right way to purchase virtue (ἀρετὴν), by exchanging pleasures for pleasures, and pains for pains, and fear for fear, and greater for less, as if they were coins, but the only right coinage, for which all those things must be exchanged and by means of and with which all these things are to be bought and sold, is in fact wisdom; and courage and temperance and justice and, in short, true virtue exist only with wisdom, whether pleasures and fears and other things of that sort are added or taken away. And virtue which consists in the exchange of such things for each other without wisdom, is a kind of illusion, fit for slaves, and has nothing healthy or true in it. The truth is that virtue is a cleansing (κάθαρσίς) from all these things, and that temperance and justice and courage and wisdom itself are a cleansing" (Phaedo 69a).

Because he thinks that he has done what he can to free himself from his body so that he can think about the forms, Socrates thinks that he is ready to "dwell with gods." That is why, as he explains to Simmias and Cebes, that he is not afraid now that he is about to die.


Socrates may have described his life in the love of wisdom in the language of the mystery religions. Aristophanes lampoons him as the "master" (αὐτός) of a new religious cult that rejects Zeus and the traditional gods in favor of novel deities. Strepsiades must be initiated to participate in the "mysteries" (μυστήρια) of this new religion (Clouds 140, 143, 219, 254).

Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 8.1.46

Plato, Euthydemus 277d

Maenad with thyrsus Vase 201659, Munich, Antikensammlungen, 2344 Athenian Red-figure Neck Amphora, 525-475 BCE. Maenad (female follower of Dionysus) with thyrsus. Kleophrades Painter.

"the thyrsus-bearers (ναρθηκοφόροι)" carry a νάρθηξ. This is the dried stalk of the giant fennel plant. The worshippers of Dionysus carried it as a wand or "thyrsus" (θύρσος).
"I fancy that those men who established the initiations are no ordinary people, but have long been saying in riddles that whoever arrives in Hades uninitiated and unaccomplished shall lie in the mud, while he who arrives there cleansed and initiated shall dwell with gods. For truly, so say those concerned with the rites, 'the thyrsus-bearers are many, but the devotees are few'; and these are, I believe, those who have loved wisdom correctly. And I in my life have, so far as I could, left nothing undone, and have striven in every way to make myself one of them. But whether I have striven aright and have met with success, I believe I shall know clearly, when I have arrived there, very soon, God willing. There is my defense, then, Simmias and Cebes, to show that it is reasonable for me not to be grieved or troubled at leaving you..." (Phaedo 69c).

Two Kinds of Existences

The Theory of Forms is a theory of the existence of the objects Socrates calls "forms" (είδη). These objects are somehow the "realities" Socrates is asking and thinking about.

   "Let us then, Cebes, turn to what we were discussing before. Is the reality itself (αὐτὴ ἡ οὐσία), whose reality we give an account in our dialectic process of question and answer, always the same or is it liable to change? Does the equal itself, the beautiful itself, what each thing itself is, the reality, ever admit of any change whatsoever? Or does what each of them is, being uniform and existing by itself, remain the same and never in any way admit of any change?
   It must necessarily remain the same, Socrates.
   But how about the many things, for example, men, or horses, or cloaks, or any other such things, which bear the same names as those objects and are called beautiful or equal or the like? Are they always the same? Or are they, in direct opposition to those others, constantly changing in themselves, unlike each other, and, so to speak, never the same?




"[W]hen Socrates, disregarding the physical universe (τῆς ὅλης φύσεως) and confining his study to ethical questions, sought in this sphere for the universal (καθόλου) and was the first to concentrate upon definition. Plato followed him and assumed that the problem of definition is concerned not with any sensible thing but with entities of another kind; for the reason that there can be no common definition among the sensible things, as they are always changing. These entities he called Ideas (ἰδέας)" (Aristotle, Metaphysics I.6.987a).
   The latter, they are never the same.
   And you can see these and touch them and perceive them by the other senses, whereas the things which are always the same can be grasped only by the reasoning of the intellect (τῷ τῆς διανοίας λογισμῷ), and are invisible and not to be seen?
   Certainly that is true.
   Now, shall we assume two kinds of existences, one visible, the other invisible?
   Let us assume them, Socrates" (Phaedo 78c).

This is difficult to understand, but maybe Socrates has something like the following in mind.

Piety is what Socrates thinking and asks about in the Euthyphro. His search for a definition ends without success, but let us suppose that piety is what is appropriate with respect to the gods. The particular actions appropriate with respect to the gods may be different from one circumstance to the next, but this "form" we are assuming they share does not change.

  "Now call to mind, Euthyphro, that this is not what I asked you, to tell me one or two of the many holy acts, but to tell me the form itself by which all holy acts are holy (αὐτὸ τὸ εἶδος ᾧ πάντα τὰ ὅσια ὅσιά ἐστιν). For you said that all unholy acts were unholy and all holy ones holy by one form. Or don't you remember?
  I remember, Socrates.
  Tell me then what this form is so that I may pay attention to it and employ it as a pattern (παραδείγματι) and, if anything you or anyone else does agrees with it, may say that the act is holy, and if not, that it is unholy" (Euthyphro 6d).

This example makes it a little easier to understand what Socrates has in mind when he says that the form is not sensible but is something we only discern in a certain kind of thinking. Piety, or being appropriate with respect to the gods, is not something we can see with our eyes.

Although we cannot see piety with our eyes, it is something. This something is what an action is if it is pious. If we ask what this something is, the answer (we are assuming) is that it is appropriate with respect to the gods. So this, maybe, is the kind of object Socrates calls a "form" (εἶδος).

  "Now how about such things as this, Simmias? Do we say justice itself is something, or not (φαμέν τι εἶναι δίκαιον αὐτὸ ἢ οὐδέ)?
  "Come now, Protagoras, let us consider together what sort of thing is each of these parts. First let us ask, is justice something, or not a thing at all (δικαιοσύνη πρᾶγμά τί ἐστιν ἢ οὐδὲν πρᾶγμα)? I think it is; what do you say?
  So do I, Socrates" (Protagoras 330b).
  We certainly do.
  And beauty and goodness.
  Of course.
  Well, did you ever see anything of that kind with your eyes?
  Certainly not" (Phaedo 65d).

Socrates and the Inquiry into Nature

"When I was young, Cebes, I was tremendously eager for the kind of wisdom (σοφίας) they call inquiry about nature (περὶ φύσεως ἱστορίαν)" (Phaedo 96a).

Other than the remark in the Phaedo, there is little evidence to show that Socrates was ever "eager" for the inquiry into nature. Diogenes Laertius says Archelaus (a student of Anaxagoras) brought natural philosophy (φυσικὴν φιλοσοφίαν) to Athens and that Socrates was his student (Lives of the Philosophers II.4), and it is possible that Archelaus is the author of some of the views Aristophanes associates with Socrates in the Clouds. Plato, however, in the Apology, has Socrates suggest that he never pursued the inquiry into nature. "For many accusers have risen up against me before you, who have been speaking for a long time, many years already, and saying nothing true.... [T]hey got hold of most of you in childhood, and accused me without any truth, saying, 'There is a certain Socrates, a wise man, a ponderer over the things in the air and one who has investigated the things beneath the earth and who makes the weaker argument the stronger'" (Apology 18b; cf. 19b, 23c, 26d).

"Generally speaking, Socrates turned away from thinking about the way in which god contrives (μηχανᾶται) each of the celestial phenomena" (Xenophon, Memorabilia IV.7).
In the course of arguing for his belief in the aferlife, Socrates sets out his intellectual autobiography as a prelude to a general discussion of generation and destruction. He says, in this autobiography, that he was interested in the inquiry into nature when he was young.

This interest in the inquiry into nature is surprising. The early dialogues give no hint Socrates was ever interested in the inquiry into nature. In fact, it is easy to get the impression he thought that such knowledge might be impossible and that even if it were possible, it would not be part of the knowledge he wants. Socrates' interest in the early dialogues is in ethical matters

Why does Plato represent Socrates as having been interested in the the inquiry into nature?

The answer, it seems, is that Plato wants to show that Socrates pointed the way to the forms and to the proper understanding of the life of the lover of wisdom in terms of the forms.

Plato seems to think the inquirers into nature gave answers that betray a mistake of the kind to which Socrates calls attention in the early dialogues. Socrates, in these dialogues, explains that he is looking for what is universal in some ethical matter, not for something that constitutes it in some particular circumstance. He tells Euthyphro, for example, not to reply to the "What is piety?" question by citing "one or two out of all the numerous actions that are pious," but to tell him "about the form itself by which all pious things are pious" (Euthyphro 6d).

As Plato portrays Socrates when in his youth he was interested in the inquiry into nature, "The physicist and the dialectician will offer different definitions, e.g., in answer to the question what is anger. The latter will call it a craving for retaliation, or something like that; the former will describe it as a surging of the blood and heat round the heart. The one is describing the matter, the other the form and account" (Aristotle, On the soul I.403a).

  "[H]e would say, 'Stranger from Elis, is it not by justice that the just are just?' So answer, Hippias, as though he were asking the question.
  I shall answer that it is by justice.
  'Then this--I mean justice--is something?'
  Certainly.
  'Then, too, by wisdom the wise are wise and by the good all things are good, are they not?'
  Of course.
  'And justice, wisdom, and so forth are something; for the just, wise, and so forth would not be such by them, if they were not something.'
  To be sure, they are something.
  'Then are not all beautiful things beautiful by the beautiful?'
  Yes, by the beautiful.
  By the beautiful, which is something?'
  Yes, for what alternative is there?
  'Tell me, then, stranger,' he will say, 'what is this, the beautiful?'" (Hippias Major 287c).

"If anyone says to me [Socrates] that a given thing is beautiful because it has a blooming color, or a shape, or something else like that, I dismiss those other things, for all those things confuse me, and I hold simply and plainly and perhaps foolishly to this, that nothing else makes it beautiful but the presence or communion (call it which you please) of the beautiful itself (αὐτὸ τὸ καλόν), however it may have been gained; about the way in which it happens, I make no positive statement as yet, but I do insist that beautiful things are made beautiful by the beautiful" (Phaedo 100c).

  "I want him to tell me this—the excellent fellow who believes that there is no beautiful itself, no form of beauty itself that remains always the same in all respects, but who does believe that there are many beautiful things—I mean, that lover of seeing who cannot bear to hear anyone say that the beautiful is one thing, or the just, or any of the rest—I want him to answer this question: 'My very good fellow,' we will say, 'of all the many beautiful things, is there one that won’t also seem ugly? Or any just one that won’t seem unjust? Or any pious one that won’t seem impious?'
  There is not, Socrates" (Republic V.479a).
he says that he went back and forth with the following kinds of questions and answers. "Do heat and cold, by a sort of fermentation, bring about the organization of animals, as some people say? Is the blood, or air, or fire by which we think? Or is it none of these, and does the brain furnish the sensations of hearing and sight and smell, and do memory and opinion arise from these, and does knowledge come from memory and opinion in a state of rest" (Phaedo 96b).

It is not very clear exactly what the problem with these answers is supposed to be, but one possibility is that they explain what something is in terms of its material. Empedocles, for example, says that "the blood around the heart is for humans their thought" (DK 31 B 105 = D240; cf. Homer, Iliad 23.103-104). So, about thinking, the question and answer is

Q: What is thinking in a human being?
A: "[T]he blood... is [that] by which we think."

This answer makes a kind of mistake Socrates' interlocutors make in connection with the search for definitions. Thinking may involve "the blood" in some instances of thinking, but the presence of "the blood" around the heart is not what thinking in a human being is.

So by portraying Socrates as having once been interested in the inquiry into nature, and by having him abandon this inquiry because it makes the kind of mistake his interlocutors make in the early dialogues, Plato's intention, it seems, is to show that Socrates took a step toward the conclusion that the understanding of reality in the inquiry into nature is incomplete. What makes it true that something is thinking (or that some action is pious or courageous) is the presence of something that does not exist among the "heat," "cold," "blood," "air," and other sensible objects that the inquirers into nature consider in their inquiries.

More Argument is Necessary

In the Phaedo, Plato portrays Socrates as thinking that the virtues of character cleanse the soul, provide time for contemplating forms, and prepare it for its existence after death.

Plato, however, has not made Socrates explain very clearly

• what the objects he calls "forms" (είδη) are
• what thinking "contemplating" these forms is

Further, he has not made Socrates give any argument to show

• what the good life is

The suggestion, in the Phaedo, seems to be that historical Socrates moved in the right direction but fell short of living the good life because he did not really understand what he was doing in living ascetically and in devoting himself to knowing what the virtue of characters are. Asceticism and the virtues of character are to free the soul from the body so that it can know "the holy itself" and such forms in ethics but also the "the equal itself" and other forms.

"For the body keeps us constantly busy by reason of its need of sustenance; and moreover, if diseases come upon it they hinder our pursuit of reality. And it fills us with passions and desires and fears, and all sorts of fancies and foolishness, so that, as they say, it really and truly makes it impossible for us to think at all. The body and its desires In the Republic, in the Tripartite Theory of the Soul, Socrates seems to understand the "body and its desires" (τὸ σῶμα καὶ αἱ τούτου ἐπιθυμίαι) in terms of two parts of the soul (appetite and spirit) that can make one act contrary to his beliefs in reason about what is good and what is bad. are the only cause of wars and factions and battles; for all wars arise for the sake of gaining money, and we are compelled to gain money for the sake of the body. We are slaves to its service. And so, because of all these things, we have no leisure for the love wisdom. But the worst of all is that if we do get a bit of leisure and turn to some inquiry, the body is constantly breaking in upon our studies and disturbing us with noise and confusion, so that it prevents our beholding (καθορᾶν) the truth" (Phaedo 66b).




Perseus Digital Library

Plato, Phaedo, Parmenides
Aristotle, Metaphysics

Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon

εἶδος, eidos, noun, "that which is seen, form, shape"
εἶδος is from εἴδω, subjunctive of the perfect οἶδα, oida, verb, "have seen, found out, know," (Smyth, 1946)
θεωρία, theōria, noun, "viewing, beholding"
ἰδέα, idea, noun, "look of something, form"
ἰδέα is from ἰδεῖν, aorist infinitive of ὁράω , horaō, verb, "see, look, look at, behold, perceive"
μουσική, mousikē, noun, "art over which the Muses presided"
μυστήριον, mystērion, noun, "mystery"
μύστης, mystēs, noun, "one initiated"
μύσται, plural of μύστης, "initiates"
ουσία, ousia, noun, "stable being, immutable reality"
παράδειγμα, paradeigma, noun, "pattern, model"
ῥέω, rheō, verb, "to flow, run, stream, gush"

τέλειος, teleios, (from the noun τέλος), adjective, "concerning the end or goal, having reached its end, finished, complete"
τελειόω, teleioō, verb, "to make perfect, complete"
τελετή, teletē, noun, "rite, especially initiation into the mysteries"
"[W]e do this to everyone when they are initiated (τελουμένους)" (Aristophanes, Clouds 254). τελέω, teleō, verb, "to complete, fulfil, accomplish"
τέλλω, tellō, verb, "to make to arise, accomplish"
τέλος, telos, noun, "the fulfilment or completion"


Arizona State University Library. Loeb Classical Library:
Early Greek Philosophy, Volume IV: Western Greek Thinkers, Part 1,
Early Greek Philosophy, Volume IV: Western Greek Thinkers, Part 2



"There is very little, if anything we know about the real Socrates. But if we know anything about him, it seems that he disapproved of natural philosophy, had no interest in metaphysics, was an extreme intellectualist..." (Michael Frede, "Plato’s Arguments and the Dialogue Form," 204-205. The Methods of Interpreting Plato and his Dialogues, 201-219. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 1992. Supplementary Volume).

"[W]hereas [the historical] Socrates had thought that there was no need to gain theoretical knowledge about the world or reality and that perhaps it was even impossible to do so, since it was not the function of reason to gain such knowledge, both Plato and Aristotle disagreed. They thought that it was crucial not only for a good life, but also for an understanding of how to live well, to have an adequate general understanding for the world. Moreover, though they granted that it was a function of reason to determine the way we live, they, each in their own way, did not think that this was the sole function of reason [as Socrates had thought]. Plato rather seems to have thought that guiding us through our embodied life is a function which reason takes on, but that it, left to itself, is concerned to theoretically understand things quite generally" (Michael Frede, "Introduction," 13. Rationality in Greek Thought, 1-28).

"[In the Phaedo, the] soul is conceived of as preexisting and as just temporarily joined to the body. It thus has two lives and two sets of concerns. Its own concern is to live a life of contemplation of truth. But, joined to the body, it also has to concern itself with the needs of the body. In doing this it easily forgets itself and its own needs, it easily gets confused so as to make the needs of the body its own. To know how to live well is to know how to live in such a way that the soul is free again to clearly see and mind its own business, namely to contemplate the truth. Thus we have an extremely complex inversion of the relative weight of one's theoretical understanding of reality and one's practical knowledge of how to live. It is one's understanding of reality, and the position of the soul in it, that saves the soul by restoring it to the extent that this is possible in this life to its natural state, in which it contemplates the truth. Hence a good life will crucially involve, as part of the way one lives, contemplation of the truth. Practicing the right way to live will also be a means to enable the soul to free itself from the body, to see the truth, and to engage in the contemplation of truth" (Michael Frede, "The Philosopher," 9. Greek thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge, 3-16).



move on go back