In Phaedo, Plato recalls Socrates' last hours of his life in a jail at Athens. The dialogue is told by his friend, Phaedo, who later told Echecrates [and later Plato ]. In the dialogue, Socrates talks about the after life, and how it exists. In order to show that the after life exists, he argues about the immortality of the soul. He states that death is the separation of the soul from the body. He argues his theory ofr immortality with three arguments, one of them being recollection. The argument of recollection is based on the idea that people are born with the knowledge of their previous lives. Socrates believes people recollect knowledge of their previous lives through the objects they see. According to Socrates, the "soul existed somewhere before it took on [a] human shape;" therefore, "learning is no other than recollection" (73a). People have knowledge before birth but lose it at birth; by seeing objects they acquire their own knowledge, so they recollect. For example, when a person sees an object, they will most likely recollect "the second thing that comes into mind" (73c). Thus, it could be said that people have "experiences about things that have been forgotten" (73e).
Socrates states that recollection can also happen when seeing things that are similar or by things that are different. When someone sees similar things, they considered them to be equal, but what is "equal itself" (74a)? Equal things and Equal itself are not the same thing; equal things can "appear to one to be equal and to another to be unequal" (74b). Equal itself cannot be unequal; therefore, equal things and Equal itself are not the same. Though, they are different, it is from the equal things "that you have derived and grasped the knowledge of equality" (74c). This knowledge is knowledge by recollection. Socrates believes that humans must have had some previous knowledge of Equal.