207 Plato's 'Cyclical Argument' Recycled 1 DAVID GALLOP In his generous review of my Phaedo2 Jonathan Barnes has put forward a reinterpretation of Plato's argument at 69e6-72e2, and an assessment of it which is at variance in certain respects with my own. Since the so-called 'Cyclical Argument' is of intrinsic philosophical interest, and raises some wider issues of Platonic exegesis, I would like to make his analysis the focus of some further remarks about it. I begin (I) with some comments on the concept of immortality bearing upon the scope of the Argument. Next (II) I consider Barnes's account of the relation between the Cyclical and Recollection Arguments. I then (III) discuss the major principles of his interpretation. Finally (IV), I reconsider how seriously the Argument should be taken in the wider context of the dialogue. I What does 'immortality' mean, and is the Cyclical Argument designed to prove it? Barnes holds that 'the Cyclical Argument is not, and was not intended to be, an argument for immortality' (p. 401). It 'pretends to show only that souls exist at some time when their owners do not' (ibid.). For its conclusions, as variously stated in the course of the
Phronesis – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1982
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