Similarly, questions of dual use, i. One important factor with a significant influence on how ethics is addressed within the project is the ethical framework of the European Commission. As an EU-funded project, the HBP is subject to the principles of research governance laid out by its funder. The EU has instituted a system of ethical review that is based on the biomedical model.
Its starting point is an ethical screening of all successful proposals.
Where any ethical issues are identified, this can lead to audits and the definition of the additional deliverables that describe how they are addressed. The HBP as a large-scale project that raises the numerous issues listed above, and is subject to stringent and frequent ethics checks that run alongside the scientific and technical reviews. To a large degree, the HBP is therefore subject to the traditional top-down ethical approach described earlier. However, our experience shows that this approach is not sufficient.
For the practitioners in the project to understand and appropriately deal with ethical issues, the dialogical approach advocated in this article is required, as we will demonstrate in the following section. The dialogical approach to ethics that we have introduced requires a practical engagement of the various stakeholders in an open and reflective way. Instituting such a dialogue or series of dialogues requires the identification of all stakeholders.
It is important to understand that such a dialogue does not take place in a vacuum, but is located in a specific historical and social context. Understanding this context requires an awareness of both the relevant literature and current public debates. The Ethics and Society sub-project of the HBP pays specific attention to future-oriented accounts as part of the work of the Foresight Lab Aicardi et al.
A further central role is played by the public engagement activities that reach out to specific stakeholder groups and society at large. These can be interpreted as part of the broader discourse concerning ethics in the project. We describe the principles of discourse, key stakeholders as well as some processes and outcomes.
It is not possible here to comprehensively describe all ethics-relevant discourses in a project of the size and complexity of the HBP. In addition, we describe these discourses from the point of view of the Ethics Support group. This should not be read to imply that this is the exclusive core of all ethics in the project, but is a simple methodological choice determined by the fact that the authors of this article have the closest insight into these discourses. We concede that other descriptions of the HBP ethics discourses are possible.
By positioning the Ethics Support group at the heart of the HBP ethics discourses, we can describe it as an interface that facilitates the cross-fertilization of several of the other discourses. Ethics Support, as indicated earlier, is one of the four work packages of the ethics and society sub-project. Its purpose is to ensure that ethical issues are dealt with to the highest standards. In order to facilitate this, Ethics Support needs to be aware of current issues. The point that we want to introduce here is that Ethics Support interpreted as an implementation of research ethics and focused on compliance does not do the ethical complexity of a project like the HBP justice.
While Ethics Support is the home of research ethics in the HBP, and compliance forms part of its activities, even compliance in the most narrow sense requires a broader understanding of ethical issues in a quickly changing external environment. Similarly, insights about likely and possible futures can be gleaned from the Foresight Lab.
In theoretical terms, this means that Ethics Support needs to be cognizant of biomedical and research ethics, but it needs to move beyond these to understand current societal discussions. As a result, an ethics of dialogue is a more suitable theoretical underpinning than a narrow view of research ethics. Only such a focus on dialogue will allow gaining the insights required to interpret issues appropriately and deal with them. Work undertaken within the HBP is one source of such insights.
A further important source of ethical insights which is crucial to the discursive construction of the ethical position of the HBP is a set of discourses with external stakeholders. These are undertaken by the Public Engagement group of the HBP, which reaches out to specialist audiences, such as relevant scientific and technical communities, but also to potential beneficiaries of the work, e. These engagement exercises provide important insight into concerns and priorities of external stakeholders who should benefit from the work undertaken in the HBP and the values that these external stakeholders hold.
In order to comprehend current concerns as well as practices of dealing with ethics, Ethics Support has instituted a number of specific means of communication. One of these forms part of the ethics compliance processes. To understand the state of compliance-relevant activities, i. While this conversation starts out in a very structured way, it then often develops into a more wide-ranging discussion where PIs raise queries, Ethics Support comments on documentation, asks for clarification etc.
These compliance processes form an important aspect of the discourse with the EC about the received orthodoxy in terms of addressing ethics. This discourse takes place through a number of ethics assessments, reviews and audits that take place at predetermined stages of the project, sometimes two or three times per year. The EU GDPR mentioned earlier provides for a techno-legal approach through early implementation of sustainable privacy-enhancing technologies that enable legal compliance throughout the life cycle of data.
This primarily involves conducting privacy impact assessments at the start of each research in order to assess the risks and severity of data processing on the rights and freedom of natural persons. Following this is establishment of privacy by design and privacy by default procedures through the development of adequate technical and organizational measures such as pseudonymization and data minimization designed to implement data protection principles and protect the rights of data subjects in a manner that allows for legal compliance in a modern world European Parliament, In many cases, it is not clear which rules apply, who can determine the application or how they need to be implemented.
This is partly caused by the international and cross-jurisdictional nature of the HBP and partly by the rapidly moving scientific and technical development which can render precedent difficult to interpret. These external experts have different areas of expertise and interests, and change over time, leading to a level of fluctuation in terms of topics and positions. Despite this, the compliance-related discourse remains relatively fixed and externally determined in terms of structure and content. Ethics Support, therefore, employs several additional discourses. Members of the EAB are independent experts whose work receives administrative support.
Expertise in the EAB covers many of the key ethical issues including animal research, human subject protection and data protection. As the project developed and novel issues became evident, membership of the EAB has changed to reflect this, leading to the inclusion of experts on the ethics of robotics and information systems. The discourses described so far involve external members, but there are additional discourses focusing on HBP-funded scholars as well. For example, as part of its own research activities, members of the Ethics Support team interviewed the leaders of all subprojects in order to understand their views of ethics.
Subsequent to this, we surveyed all project members using an online survey as a way of accessing their views, questions and priorities. This discourse highlighted the issues that perceptions of ethics differ between disciplines and subprojects, and that a more continuous engagement with the scientists in the project was required.
This group, the so-called Ethics Rapporteurs, provides the subject expertise and detailed knowledge of project operations, they can communicate with their peers in their subprojects about ethics and contribute their understanding to the discussion. Each of the groups mentioned above has internal discourses around ethics, which involve the Ethics Support team as a common factor. In addition, we put other measures in place to ensure that the discourses cross-fertilize each other. For example, the EAB members are paired up with the Ethics Rapporteurs and continuously discuss and maintain an awareness of the current state of ethical issues in all subprojects.
EAB members and Ethics Rapporteurs participate in the regular ethics reviews, and thereby interact with the EC and its ethics reviewers. The EAB feeds into the discussion of the Ethics Support group and the Ethics and Society subproject as a whole, informing agenda-setting decisions and providing feedback on research and recommendations.
Another important example of cross-fertilization is Researcher Awareness activities that are a shared responsibility between Ethics Support and Foresight to facilitate reflections on potential ethical and social implications of research within HBP. Figure 1 gives a high-level overview of the various groups engaged in the discourse and highlights key communication links.
Plato and Aristotle: How Do They Differ?
Figure 1. This figure is not necessarily complete, as there are numerous developing discourses between the participants listed here and others which may not be listed. We realize that it is only one possible way of representing the discourses in the HBP, and that there will be many others. The purpose of the diagram is only to highlight some of the main discourse participants and the range of stakeholders both within and outside the HBP that provide input into ethics discourses. We outlined how our approach overcomes some of the limitations and ethical issues associated with the traditional IRB orientation.
This discursive framework is not without limitations or potential pitfalls, and we discuss some of these issues and their implications in the next section. Numerous challenges are present with regard to the application of the approach which we explore here. One immediate, practical concern is that of cost and resource implications. Creating and maintaining an embedded Ethics and Society subproject with an integrated Ethics Support group is considerably more expensive than engaging in routine, pre-project box-ticking, to say nothing of the administrative burden of multiple yearly ethics reviews and other aspects of ethics management.
The resource requirements are not only a constraint that may make it difficult for other projects to institute similar approaches, but they can lead to frictions and consequently to doubts about the legitimacy of engaging with ethics in the first place. Resources spent on instituting ethics-related discourses are resources that cannot be spent on science. In a traditional view of science that sees any scientific endeavor as automatically ethically justified due to its positive impact on knowledge production, doubts can arise concerning the necessity of engaging with ethics.
This issue is highly dependent on the personal and disciplinary background of the researcher, which also play a role in the next point. An overarching concern is that of awareness; for example, members of the HBP possess varying levels of awareness both of ethical issues and the processes required to address them within the project context. This is linked to other factors which we have already mentioned, including the differing socialization of researchers in different disciplines, the complexity of the project as a whole, and the variability of Member State requirements for research.
Through the established communication channels and overlapping relationships between external parties and internal ethics governance frameworks, we must continuously engage in clarification and modification of the processes and attempt to raise awareness of these. The willingness of researchers to engage in discourse around ethics and innovation is also a considerable potential barrier.
Researchers face many pressures on their time, and a prolonged exchange about the ethical issues presented by their research may not be a high priority. Furthermore, a view of research ethics as a barrier to progress is pervasive amongst some groups, and that presents an additional challenge. There are also questions of authority, with regard to ethics and for the scientific research process and outcomes.
Both may be addressed to some extent through a discursive negotiation and reinforcement of shared responsibility, but the likelihood of success of extended dialogue is highly contextual. Somewhat related to this are issues of conflict, how aspects of the ethical process should be enforced if clashes occur, and what sanctions may be necessary should a serious issue arise. As a way of mediating the impacts of these issues, the HBP Ethics and Society programme chose to highlight the practical relevance of RRI to HBP researchers, and to raise awareness of this through our external and internal outreach and community-building activities.
We emphasize the benefits of more sustainable, socially-relevant research that resonates with multiple stakeholders. However, institutionalization of ethics dialogues e. However, as we have hope to have shown, the Ethics Support work and the programme of RRI of which it forms a part are much wider than legal compliance. Ethical processes and governance in the HBP are, by necessity, shaped by European and international law, which can be interpreted as ethical impositions Anghie, It is clearly beyond the scope of this article to provide a critique of international and European law and the regulatory framework of European research.
Suffice it to say that from the perspective of Ethics Support, they provide boundary conditions that can be difficult to negotiate. The inability to fully escape from existing power relationships could also be used to criticize our overall approach. We draw on the concept of RRI, and have argued that it can be justified with reference to Habermasian discourse ethics. However, we are aware that there is significant criticism of discourse ethics, not least because of its reliance on the ideal speech situation.
This is the counterfactual scenario where all participants in a discourse have the opportunity to share their views and modify their positions with a view to reaching a consensus on the issue in question. Discourse ethics is clear that this ideal speech situation is counterfactual and, as Habermas puts it, it is transcendental in a Kantian sense, which means that imagining it is a necessary condition of the possibility of real discourses. To put it differently, if we could not imagine an ideal discourse, then there would be no point in a real discourse, as we would not know how to structure it.
This leads us into deep philosophical territory which goes beyond the confines of this article. However, it is clear that the real discourses within the HBP suffer significantly from imbalances of power, given that they include numerous actors e. A free and open discourse is therefore not only constrained by the legal and institutional context, but also by the nature of extant formal and informal relationships and the perceived identities of the agents within them.
A final fundamental concern worth mention is that the open and dialogue-oriented approach we propose here is open to intentional manipulation and political misuse. By opening the debate concerning the process and expected outcomes of scientific research to a broader audience, one can inadvertently invite voices that may not be well informed but may be well organized and aim to steer research and innovation in a particular direction.
It is not difficult to envisage that certain ideological or religious views would inform opposition to specific research questions or methods which could stifle freedom of inquiry. This problem is not limited to scientific research. Open and deliberative democratic societies that invest heavily in scientific research are currently subject to increased levels of public scrutiny and questioning of established truths.
The established expert-based IRB process that governs scientific research, while sometimes oppressive, at least has the advantage from the point of view of scientists that it is undertaken by scientific peers, who generally do not question the very basis of the research. We concede that this is a valid concern and one that a deliberative approach to RRI will need to take into account. One way of arguing that the fundamental limitations of a discourse-oriented approach to ethics discussed above are to demonstrate that the outcomes are recognizable and more effective than those that would have been achieved relying on the traditional approach.
Unfortunately, it is not straightforward to measure the impact of taking a dialogical approach to ethics in neuro-ICT, particularly outside the realm of legislative compliance. At the moment, the HBP involves partners from 19 countries, each of which has their own ethics regulations and requirements. The other fundamental methodological problem in measuring the impact of ethics dialogues is that there is no independent baseline against which we can measure.
Despite these methodological limitations, we believe that there are good arguments for supporting the positive impact of the dialogical concept of ethics that we have employed. As a starting point, there is now a widely distributed ethics infrastructure in place in the project. This includes subject expertise in many different fields and aspects of ethics as well as a number of contact points for ethics in the various scientific and technical activities.
Ethical viewpoints are institutionalized at various points within the governance structure of the project. The project not only has a satisfactory way of dealing with traditional research ethics, but continues to reach out to academic and user communities and to find ways of incorporating external insights into practice. Overall, we believe that the approach has succeeded in what it was meant to achieve, namely to overcome the overly narrow traditional approach to research ethics. Consequences of the ethical discourses within the HBP can be observed in many different areas, for example in the privacy-sensitive design of medical informatics work, in the close collaboration of neuroinformatics and ethics compliance, in the appointment of a data protection officer or in the ongoing discussion with colleagues about the challenges of data governance or the concept and practical possibilities of responsible dual use.
This is not to claim that we have resolved all ethical problems in the HBP. Many of them require continuous monitoring and reflection. The fact remains that many of our discourses are practically driven and constrained by the traditional IRB approach and legal requirements which often leave limited space for discussion.
However, despite the narrow space for maneuver created by of many of these legal frameworks, the use of ethics dialogues can be particularly fruitful because it presents a pragmatic way of reconciling differences across complex disciplinary, institutional and national contexts across Europe and beyond. By using the HBP as a case study, we have shown that the conceptual framework of discourse ethics and its practical application through RRI offer a viable, responsive way of addressing the ethics of international, innovative, interdisciplinary research without reproducing IRB or REC approaches.
In fact, discourse ethics may present a practical method of reconciling differences within large-scale neuro-ICT projects that involve diverse disciplines, institutions, and countries whilst operating in the complex and uncertain contexts that characterize innovative research. Due to the openness and flexibility of this approach, ethics dialogues also offer the opportunity to keep pace with the development of emergent technology in a way that legislation, individual ethics, or rigorous rules cannot. We would, therefore, suggest that a discourse-oriented approach to ethics is not only a viable alternative to the present approach, but it is the only way forward.
Research is increasingly called upon to move beyond specific problems that can be solved in the lab and engage with bigger societal challenges. The world faces numerous, significant problems that will require new thinking and novel insights to be addressed. The most visible example of these issues is summarized by the United Nations as the Sustainable Development Goals United Nations, To address such challenges, boundary-crossing collaborations from diverse disciplines, countries, sectors and stakeholder communities are needed.
This implies that the ethical and societal issues associated with such large-scale and interdisciplinary research will grow in importance. We believe that addressing the ethical challenges of such work will require a discursive approach. We have framed this article in terms of ethical issues in large neuro-ICT projects. At the time of writing this article, there are numerous brain research projects in preparation or being implemented. In , these projects met for the first time to discuss collaboration under the auspices of the International Brain Initiative 1. The development of these numerous, large neuro-ICT initiatives underlines the importance of thinking about ethics in an open and collaborative way.
The further success of international neuroscience research will depend to a large extent on collaboration between different projects, labs and researchers. This, as we have argued elsewhere, will require the incorporation of some shared understandings of ethical issues Stahl et al. At the same time, the regulatory and ethical issues of the different projects will differ and call for appropriate bespoke solutions. Many of the ethical issues that can be expected of such collaborations working to create novel outcomes will not fall within the remit of a traditional IRB process, and we offer an RRI-informed dialogical ethical framework as a possible alternative.
In this article, we did not aim to provide practical guidance to researchers in other neuro-ICT projects on how to address particular issues. The main point was to discuss the current ethical underpinning of research ethics and to outline its limitations. We argued that a reliance on biomedical ethics and in particular on the compliance-oriented implementation of research ethics does not do the complexity of current ethical issues justice.
Drawing on principles of dialogue-oriented ethics and incorporating our experience from the HBP, we demonstrated that different interpretation of ethics is not only possible but also more suitable to address current ethical issues. Our practical contribution is to provide an example of how these ideas can be put into practice. Many of the aspects of this example are by necessity idiosyncratic but we believe that the principles that they are based on are capable of being generalized.
We, therefore, provide a practical example of implementing a theoretically grounded practice-oriented approach to RRI. Practical lessons to be learned from our work and this article, therefore, refer to the structure and implementation of ethics-related processes in large projects. We believe that the interlinked network of ethics discourses represented in Figure 1 is a suitable model for dealing with ethics.
This is not to suggest that it is the best or only model, but that it contains a number of components that are worth considering when setting up ethics-related structures. There are promising lines of research related to the ideas we present here. As noted earlier, the relationship between discourse ethics, critical theory as informed by communicative action Habermas, , and emergent critical neuroscience discussions Choudhury and Slaby, would be one interesting avenue of future research, especially with regard to ethics in neuro-ICT innovation contexts.
Developing a global discourse ethics oriented toward matters of data governance, data sharing, and the ethical tensions between privacy and data protection, and open science and open data is another potentially productive strand of research. Such a global discourse ethics will have to find ways to incorporate local, national and regional sensitivities and particularities.
In order to test whether our claim to generalisability can be upheld, it would be interesting to empirically test the transferability of our insights to other subject areas. It is thus fair to say that much work remains to be done. However, drawing on 5 years of experience of developing and refining our dialogical approach to ethics and ethics support in the HBP we believe to have demonstrated that ethics does not have to be perceived as an imperialistic imposition. The dialogical approach presented here is likely to increase the knowledge base, be responsive to scientific developments and specific contexts and contribute to the promise of science to contribute to addressing the most pressing challenges humanity faces.
BS led the development of the ethics support work package and processes, wrote the first draft of the article and coordinated the contributions. SA worked on legal review and data protection and was part of the ethics check process. BF led the data governance and was involved in compliance management. WK led the ethics compliance process. IU led the ethics awareness work. All authors worked closely together on the work described in the article. All have contributed to the text related to their area of expertise and contributed to the overall article, including through reviews and revision of earlier drafts.
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Ackerman, S. Google Scholar. Aicardi, C. Accompanying technology development in the Human Brain Project: from foresight to ethics management. Futures , — The integrated ethics and society programme of the Human Brain Project: reflecting on an ongoing experience. Responsible Innov. Amunts, K.
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Beauchamp, T. Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Bentham, J. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. London: Dover Publications Inc. Bynum, T. Choudhury, S. Hoboken, NL: Wiley-Blackwell. Christen, M. Ethical challenges of simulation-driven big neuroscience. AJOB Neurosci. Churchland, P.
Plato’s Meno | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Clouser, K. A critique of principlism. Council of Europe. The Oviedo Convention: protecting human rights in the biomedical field. Civil society involvement in the EU regulations on GMOs: from the design of a participatory garden to growing trees of european public debate. Society 3, — Ess, C. Neither relativism nor imperialism: theories and practices for a global information ethics. Ethics Inf. European Commission. Options for Strengthening Responsible Research and Innovation.
Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. How to complete your ethics self-assessment version 1. European Parliament, and European Council.
General Data Protection Regulation. Evers, K. The contribution of neuroethics to international brain research initiatives. Farah, M. Neuroethics: the practical and the philosophical. Trends Cogn. Fins, J. Deep brain stimulation, deontology and duty: The moral obligation of non-abandonment at the neural interface. Neural Eng. Fitzgerald, D. Foot, P. Neuroscience: where is the brain in the human brain project? Nature , 27— Freyhofer, H.
Neuroethics in the age of brain projects. Habermas, J. Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Kant, I. Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft. Ditzingen: Reclam. Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten. Klitzman, R. The Ethics Police? Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Landeweerd, L. Life Sci. Policy Leefmann, J. Neuroethics — A bibliometric analysis of the guiding themes of an emerging research field. Lim, D. Brain simulation and personhood: a concern with the human brain project. MacIntyre, A. Macnaghten, P. Good governance for geoengineering. Nature Marcus, S.
Neuroethics: Mapping the Field: Conference Proceedings. Mill, J. Mingers, J. Towards ethical information systems: the contribution of discourse ethics. MIS Quart. Musoba, G. Myskja, B. The categorical imperative and the ethics of trust. Owen, R. Poline, J. Data sharing in neuroimaging research. Rehg, W. While this article will concentrate on the philosophical aspects of the Phaedo , readers are advised to pay close attention to the interwoven dramatic features as well. The dialogue revolves around the topic of death and immortality: how the philosopher is supposed to relate to death, and what we can expect to happen to our souls after we die.
The text can be divided, rather unevenly, into five sections:. The former asks the latter, who was present on that day, to recount what took place. He agrees to tell the whole story from the beginning; within this story the main interlocutors are Socrates, Simmias, and Cebes. Some commentators on the dialogue have taken the latter two characters to be followers of the philosopher Pythagoras B.
They go in to the prison to find Socrates with his wife Xanthippe and their baby, who are then sent away. Socrates, rubbing the place on his leg where his just removed bonds had been, remarks on how strange it is that a man cannot have both pleasure and pain at the same time, yet when he pursues and catches one, he is sure to meet with the other as well. Cebes asks Socrates about the poetry he is said to have begun writing, since Evenus a Sophist teacher, not present was wondering about this. He then asks Cebes to convey to Evenus his farewell, and to tell him that—even though it would be wrong to take his own life—he, like any philosopher, should be prepared to follow Socrates to his death.
The discussion starts with the question of suicide. If philosophers are so willing to die, asks Cebes, why is it wrong for them to kill themselves? As Cebes and Simmias immediately point out, however, this appears to contradict his earlier claim that the philosopher should be willing to die: for what truly wise man would want to leave the service of the best of all masters, the gods? Socrates begins his defense of this thesis, which takes up the remainder of the present section, by defining death as the separation of body and soul. This definition goes unchallenged by his interlocutors, as does its dualistic assumption that body and soul are two distinct entities.
First, the true philosopher despises bodily pleasures such as food, drink, and sex, so he more than anyone else wants to free himself from his body 64da. They are best approached not by sense perception but by pure thought alone. These entities are granted again without argument by Simmias and Cebes, and are discussed in more detail later.
To have pure knowledge, therefore, philosophers must escape from the influence of the body as much as is possible in this life. Thus, Socrates concludes, it would be unreasonable for a philosopher to fear death, since upon dying he is most likely to obtain the wisdom which he has been seeking his whole life. Ordinary people are only brave in regard to some things because they fear even worse things happening, and only moderate in relation to some pleasures because they want to be immoderate with respect to others.
Thus ends his defense. But what about those, says Cebes, who believe that the soul is destroyed when a person dies? To persuade them that it continues to exist on its own will require some compelling argument. The first argument that Socrates deploys appears to be intended to respond to a , and the second to b. Socrates mentions an ancient theory holding that just as the souls of the dead in the underworld come from those living in this world, the living souls come back from those of the dead 70c-d. He uses this theory as the inspiration for his first argument, which may be reconstructed as follows:.
If the two opposite processes did not balance each other out, everything would eventually be in the same state: for example, if increase did not balance out decrease, everything would keep becoming smaller and smaller 72b. Therefore, everything that dies must come back to life again 72a. With this terminology in mind, some contemporary commentators have maintained that the argument relies on covertly shifting between these different kinds of opposites.
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Clever readers may notice other apparent difficulties as well. Does the principle about balance in 3 , for instance, necessarily apply to living things? Moreover, how does Plato account for adding new living souls to the human population? While these questions are perhaps not unanswerable from the point of view of the present argument, we should keep in mind that Socrates has several arguments remaining, and he later suggests that this first one should be seen as complementing the second 77c-d.
This is likely a reference to the Meno 82b ff. The argument may be reconstructed as follows:. Things in the world which appear to be equal in measurement are in fact deficient in the equality they possess 74b, d-e. In order to do this, we must have had some prior knowledge of the Equal itself 74d-e. Since this knowledge does not come from sense-perception, we must have acquired it before we acquired sense-perception, that is, before we were born 75b ff. Therefore, our souls must have existed before we were born.
With regard to premise 1 , in what respect are this-worldly instances of equality deficient? He could mean that the sticks may appear as equal or unequal to different observers, or perhaps they appear as equal when measured against one thing but not another. The process of recollection is initiated not just when we see imperfectly equal things, then, but when we see things that appear to be beautiful or good as well; experience of all such things inspires us to recollect the relevant Forms. Moreover, if these Forms are never available to us in our sensory experience, we must have learned them even before we were capable of having such experience.
Simmias agrees with the argument so far, but says that this still does not prove that our souls exist after death, but only before birth. This difficulty, Socrates suggests, can be resolved by combining the present argument with the one from opposites: the soul comes to life from out of death, so it cannot avoid existing after death as well.
He does not elaborate on this suggestion, however, and instead proceeds to offer a third argument. There are two kinds of existences: a the visible world that we perceive with our senses, which is human, mortal, composite, unintelligible, and always changing, and b the invisible world of Forms that we can access solely with our minds, which is divine, deathless, intelligible, non-composite, and always the same 78ca, 80b.
The soul is more like world b , whereas the body is more like world a 79b-e. Therefore, supposing it has been freed of bodily influence through philosophical training, the soul is most likely to make its way to world b when the body dies 80da. If, however, the soul is polluted by bodily influence, it likely will stay bound to world a upon death 81bb. Of the impure souls, those who have been immoderate will later become donkeys or similar animals, the unjust will become wolves or hawks, those with only ordinary non-philosophical virtue will become social creatures such as bees or ants.
The philosopher, on the other hand, will join the company of the gods. Hence, after death, his soul will join with that to which it is akin, namely, the divine. After a long silence, Socrates tells Simmias and Cebes not to worry about objecting to any of what he has just said. For he, like the swan that sings beautifully before it dies, is dedicated to the service of Apollo, and thus filled with a gift of prophecy that makes him hopeful for what death will bring.
Simmias prefaces his objection by making a remark about methodology. If at the end of this investigation one fails to find the truth, one should adopt the best theory and cling to it like a raft, either until one dies or comes upon something sturdier. For one might put forth a similar argument which claims that the soul is like a harmony and the body is like a lyre and its strings. But even though a musical harmony is invisible and akin to the divine, it will cease to exist when the lyre is destroyed.
Following the soul-as-harmony thesis, the same would be true of the soul when the body dies. Next Socrates asks if Cebes has any objections. In support of his doubt, he invokes a metaphor of his own. Suppose someone were to say that since a man lasts longer than his cloak, it follows that if the cloak is still there the man must be there too. We would certainly think this statement was nonsense. Just as a man might wear out many cloaks before he dies, the soul might use up many bodies before it dies. In light of this uncertainty, one should always face death with fear.
Misology, he says, arises in much the same way that misanthropy does: when someone with little experience puts his trust in another person, but later finds him to be unreliable, his first reaction is to blame this on the depraved nature of people in general. If he had more knowledge and experience, however, he would not be so quick to make this leap, for he would realize that most people fall somewhere in between the extremes of good and bad, and he merely happened to encounter someone at one end of the spectrum. A similar caution applies to arguments. If someone thinks a particular argument is sound, but later finds out that it is not, his first inclination will be to think that all arguments are unsound; yet instead of blaming arguments in general and coming to hate reasonable discussion, we should blame our own lack of skill and experience.
To begin, he gets both Simmias and Cebes to agree that the theory of recollection is true. Simmias admits this inconsistency, and says that he in fact prefers the theory of recollection to the other view. Nonetheless, Socrates proceeds to make two additional points. First, if the soul is a harmony, he contends, it can have no share in the disharmony of wickedness. But this implies that all souls are equally good.
Second, if the soul is never out of tune with its component parts as shown at 93a , then it seems like it could never oppose these parts. A passage in Homer, wherein Odysseus beats his breast and orders his heart to endure, strengthens this picture of the opposition between soul and bodily emotions. Given these counter-arguments, Simmias agrees that the soul-as-harmony thesis cannot be correct.
He now proceeds to relate his own examinations into this subject, recalling in turn his youthful puzzlement about the topic, his initial attraction to a solution given by the philosopher Anaxagoras B. When Socrates was young, he says, he was excited by natural science, and wanted to know the explanation of everything from how living things are nourished to how things occur in the heavens and on earth. But then he realized that he had no ability for such investigations, since they caused him to unlearn many of the things he thought he had previously known.
He used to think, for instance, that people grew larger by various kinds of external nourishment combining with the appropriate parts of our bodies, for example, by food adding flesh to flesh. But what is it which makes one person larger than another? Or for that matter, which makes one and one add up to two? This method came about as follows. He took this to mean that everything was arranged for the best. Therefore, if one wanted to know the explanation of something, one only had to know what was best for that thing. Suppose, for instance, that Socrates wanted to know why the heavenly bodies move the way they do.
Anaxagoras would show him how this was the best possible way for each of them to be. And once he had taught Socrates what the best was for each thing individually, he then would explain the overall good that they all share in common. Yet upon studying Anaxagoras further, Socrates found these expectations disappointed. It turned out that Anaxagoras did not talk about Mind as cause at all, but rather about air and ether and other mechanistic explanations.
For Socrates, however, this sort of explanation was simply unacceptable:. To call those things causes is too absurd. If someone said that without bones and sinews and all such things, I should not be able to do what I decided, he would be right, but surely to say that they are the cause of what I do, and not that I have chosen the best course, even though I act with my mind, is to speak very lazily and carelessly.
Imagine not being able to distinguish the real cause from that without which the cause would not be able to act as a cause. This new method consists in taking what seems to him to be the most convincing theory—the theory of Forms—as his basic hypothesis, and judging everything else in accordance with it.
In other words, he assumes the existence of the Beautiful, the Good, and so on, and employs them as explanations for all the other things.