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Death is one of two things -- either death is a state of nothingness and utter

unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul
from this world to another. (Plato, Apology 40c-d; tr. Jowett; see also
this summary of Apology40c-41c.)

To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come ... (Hamlet iii, 1)

The fear of death is only an instance of thinking oneself wise when one is not;
for it is to think one knows what one does not know. (Apology 29a, tr.
Guthrie)

The path is through perplexing ways, and


when
The goal is gain'd, we die, you know -- and
then --

What then? -- I do not know, no more do


you -- (Byron, Don Juan, Canto I, st. 133-134)

In sum, either there is an afterlife or there is not. And to claim more than that -
- i.e. that an afterlife or materialism is the reality -- is to think you know what
you don't know, to think yourself wise when you are not, which is the cardinal
vice in philosophy: "conceited ignorance" (Apology 21d).

Although Plato presents reasoned arguments for his picture of death as "giving
up the ghost" (Phaedo64c), that is of death as the soul leaving the body, he
does not confuse belief which is the outcome of Socratic dialectic with
knowledge of "everlasting to eternity".

In Gorgias 522e-524b, Plato describes how at death the soul comes to


judgment for the way a man has lived his life, and if his wrong-doing has not
been punished in this life it will be punished in the afterlife (for punishment is
the only forgiveness for wrong-doing), but if a man has lived blamelessly his
afterlife will be blessed. Plato states this account in mythical form, and
although he says he believes it to be true, he does not claim to know that it is.
But further, according to Plato, no one welcomes death more than the
philosopher, for he is glad to set off for that place where he will find the
wisdom he has all his life sought (Phaedo 67e-68a). Augustine's hope was
similar: "I shall know You, my Knower, I shall know You even as I am
known" (Confessionsx, 1). But Cleanthes the Stoic was in no hurry, for
although he was "ready to depart", he said that when "I consider that I am in
all points in good health and that I can still write and read, I am content to
wait" (Diog. L. vii, 174). But where did the Stoics believe they departed for?
Their souls were to be absorbed back into the Fire of Reason (i.e. the world's
soul) from which they had come: rather than find wisdom at death, they would
become part of it (so to speak).
But Aristotle's thesis is contrary to both Plato's and the Stoics's, as well as
to the ignorance of Socrates.

According to Leo Tolstoy, what tells man how he should live his life is the
thought that he must die one day. But as to the afterlife: "... whether he found
there what he had hoped for, or whether he was disappointed, is something we
shall all soon know" (Master and Man).

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