LITERATURE: Phaedo and Slaughterhouse-Five – On Time

There must be, I thought, a reason other than a busy schedule to have laid aside so interesting a theory on life and living, death and dying as presented in logical argument by Socrates in Phaedo.

Socrates attempts to prove the existence of an eternal soul by argument of opposites:  If smaller, than greater must have existed prior, and vice versa.  More just is a product of unjust, as unjust must once have been just.  While the "change" or transition would certainly prove this point, I’m not sure I have not been lulled by Plato’s "therefore’s" to agree to the opposities of life and death.  Certainly death springs from life, but does the theory still hold as undoubtable that life springs from death?

After an intimate revelation of his personal involvement in the novel he offers us, Vonnegut hits his reader hard with a very strange character in Chapter 2:


Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. 

Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day.  (p. 22)

It seems that I have been fairly consistent in my simulaneously reading of Philosophy and Fiction in that the selections assist each other in theme.  Socrates speaks of a linear timeline that traverses several lifetimes.  Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim appears to wander in out of sequence segments of a single lifetime. 

This should be a very interesting partnership, this trio: Philosopher and teacher, visionary and writer, and reader and student.

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