The Attunement Theory of the Soul in the Phaedo

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Abstract
At Phaedo 86b7–c2 Simmias puts forward the theory that the soul is the attunement of bodily elements. Many scholars have claimed that this theory originates in the Pythagoreans, especially Philolaus. The claim is largely based on their reading of the Phaedo, since we have scarce doxographical evidence. In this paper I show that the dialogue in question does not constitute any evidence for the Pythagorean origin of Simmias’ attunement theory, and that it rather represents the theory as stemming from a materialistic world view that had become widespread among people at that time. I also pursue the question how and why, then, the attunement theory was able to attract many people, by examining its relation to Socrates’ affinity argument.
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Archival date: 2020-01-23
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