No tale of Alkinous: Plato and the afterlife

Savva, Antonios (2022). No tale of Alkinous: Plato and the afterlife. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Death has been called the great leveler, knowing neither race, age, gender, sex, religion, etc. It also knows no time, serving to tie the modern human being to the ancient. Death is an ever present constant, enveloping all human beings, at all periods of time; none can escape. Consequently, human beings have always sought to understand this phenomenon: Why do we die? What is the purpose of death? Does anything happen after? An examination of a society’s approach to these questions, reveals a great deal about the basic assumptions, conceptual framework, and values that a society holds. In short, to best formulate why life is worth living, one considers death; in particular what happens after death, if anything.

Plato does not speak for all of Athens, but in an examination of Plato’s conception of afterlife, we are offered unique insight into how one individual approached these particular issues. To know best how Plato believed one should live, one should investigate the Platonic afterlife. This thesis examines the Platonic conception of the afterlife; beginning with the definitions of ‘life’ and ‘death.’ If Plato believes in an afterlife, and it appears he did, how can the afterlife exist if death is the end of life as we know it? Then, this thesis examines Plato’s approach to the judgement of the soul, and the subsequent punishment and reward the soul receives as a result. Finally, this thesis considers Plato’s conception of reincarnation; which ties back into the definitions of ‘life’ and ‘death’ offered at the beginning.

Ultimately, Plato offers the individual an opportunity to find truth in an ever-changing, more connected, post-truth world (as he sees it). He does this by offering the individual a wager: (i) believe in the afterlife he presents; live the life he suggests, and you will find what you are looking for in life. Or, (ii) do not believe in the afterlife he presents; live a life of injustice, and fail to achieve meaning in one’s life.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > DF Greece
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology


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