I read Plato’s Phaedo the other day. In it, Socrates details what he suspects the afterlife will be like. Throughout Phaedo, and streaming amidst other books about Socrates, he describes two types of existences. The first type (existence in the bodily world) is of the earthly world. Chairs, food, cups, money, and anything tangible or desired by the body are a part of this world. The second type (non-existence in the bodily world) is of the Gods/heavens. The ideas of courage, truth, knowledge, good, justice, and honor are part of this world.
The way Socrates explains it is that everyone has earthly desires. We all want money, success, and our gluttonous fill. The rational person resists these desires though. He understands that true joy isn’t of this world. As a matter of fact, succumbing to earthly desires leads to pain and a pulling away from rational joy. So, the rational person doesn’t eat till full, cares not for money, and doesn’t seek success. The rational person revels in ideas and the seeking of truth about the good, the truly beautiful, justice, mathematics, etc.
Socrates also detailed that intangible ideas were without end or beginning, and items of the concrete world had both beginning and end. So, intangibles are like God and the soul. Searching out these ideas while on Earth gains the approval of God. Life is like a tryout for heaven. People that prove to the Gods that they can enjoy intangibles in life go to heaven. People that live for worldly pleasures do not go to heaven.
I was thinking about this after the elections. I think that “good” is eternal, universal, and the most important of the intangible ideas. I think it should be our ultimate pursuit during life. I can’t see how it could possibly be good to vote to cut the taxes of the rich, to create a Muslim registry, to build a wall to keep struggling people away, and to end people’s right to marriage. I know what my values are. I think they are American. I want America to be good. I want our nation to be a beacon in this dark world. A vote for the worldly desires of wanting to get richer, of wanting to push others down so we can get ahead, and of making better deals against struggling countries is a path that doesn’t to the heaven of Socrates. I don’t think it leads to the heaven of Jesus either. Carl Miller