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Socrates Nobody Desires Evil Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1135 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The beliefs of Socrates includes: a) Nobody desires evil, b) Nobody makes a mistake or does wrong willingly or knowingly, c) Virtue – all virtue – is knowledge, d) Virtue is sufficient for happiness.

Of the four beliefs, the most implausible that Socrates established is the point that happiness and excellence is the most important goals in life, made these depend upon the virtues, then made the acquisition of the virtues the unique prerogative of the intellect, of cognition, reason, and argument. The minor Socratics began with a similar evaluation of the importance of happiness and excellence; however, their critical appraisal of the possibility of one’s gaining knowledge with the power to deliver these goods led them to form alternative approaches to practical ethics. This shows Socrates’ commitment to the belief that reason should serve as the ultimate arbitrator of will and goodness.

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2. Socrates and Euthyphro discuss the nature of holiness. To understand the significance of their discussion it is fruitful to examine the nature of their discussion and the process by which they manage the terrain of their issue as having an importance greater than the subject itself has. The subject of holiness is interesting and arguably important, but it is a means of arriving at a still greater end.

Socrates and Euthyphro approach their conversation with distinct attitudes regarding the health of their epistemic states. Euthyphro feels confident and sure of his mastery of the topic of holiness. In contrast, Socrates professes his ignorance. But his ignorance is not the easy ignorance of a lazy unimaginative man. Rather, his claim of ignorance is the result of careful reflection about the status of his own virtue. His character is one of ceaseless rational inquiry. Socrates worked to use reason to judge truth and bring order to his soul. Second, Socrates demands that any idea worth keeping must withstand careful scrutiny. In contrast, Euthyphro demonstrates the mental habits of a person lacking the persistence to penetrate an idea beyond initial impressions. Socrates is determined to help Euthyphro acknowledge this habit of his character and revise it in favor of the habit of aggressive reasoning. Such a habit, Socrates demonstrates, is crucial for eudaimonia.

3. Socrates explains that he has been pursuing his religious duty to decipher the riddle presented by the oracle at Delphi. Socrates devotes a fair amount of time to this particular matter of his reputation. In his defense, Socrates explains that his friend Chaerephon paid a visit to the oracle at Delphi and asked whether there was anyone wiser than Socrates. In answer to this question, the oracle answered that no one was wiser. Socrates is often portrayed announcing his ignorance on many matters of apparent importance. If there is a link between knowledge and wisdom it seems that Socrates, apparently impoverished in the first virtue, would likely be impoverished in the latter virtue.

Socrates understood the attainment of knowledge to involve a sort of personal transformation. For example, insofar as one gains knowledge of goodness then one becomes good and acts in ways that are good. Thus, Socrates had a special conception of knowledge. With regard to the virtues, Socrates did not draw a distinction between knowing-that and knowing-how. The former type of knowledge denotes an understanding of facts while the latter denotes an ability to perform an action. For Socrates, if someone had knowledge of a virtue it meant that she could both define it and consistently acted in harmony with it.

4. The charge of corrupting the youth is ambiguous and vague. Such activity might be perceived to be counter to the proper upbringing of the youth who may be expected to accept and practice the traditions of their culture without scrutiny. Socrates has already revealed that even religious messages from the oracle must be subjected to rational inquiry to be properly understood.

To make this point clear he identifies the example of horse training. It seems that if someone became the owner of a horse that she wanted properly trained she would take it to one of the few experts rather than hitch it in the town center where it would enjoy maximum exposure to the greatest amount of people. Yet if most people are benefactors rather than corrupters then one should indeed hitch her new horse in the town square. Yet the foolishness of this conclusion is clear. There is no reason to suspect that most people, even if they are not detrimental to the youth, are beneficial to the youth. It stems likely that genuine benefactors will be in the minority. From these premises Socrates concludes that either be does not corrupt the youth or if he does corrupt the youth it is unintentional. Socrates cannot corrupt the youth intentionally for by doing so he would hurt those with whom he associates and thus ultimately hurt himself. Assuming that Socrates possesses self-mastery, this is counter to premise two. This is logically impossible.

5. Socrates was the philosopher who tried to equate goodness, knowledge, and happiness, it is most likely that that was how many others regarded him, and responding to that project was philosophically more important than responding to Socrates the man.

Socrates was the philosopher who claimed no certain knowledge, but who nonetheless could live a successful life, then that combination of qualities poses more interesting problems for Hellenistic philosophy than does the issue of whether Socrates really made such a claim. With this, it is unlikely that a democracy will produce qualified and effective leaders because it is difficult, some might say impossible, to know for certain exactly what he thought or said about knowledge, moral values, or happiness.

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6. Socrates did not rely exclusively on analogy in his attempts to infer the nature of the virtues, it did constitute a prominent place in his eclectic arsenal and seems undoubtedly to have informed his conclusion that the virtues were technal. It is difficult to assess the implications but if I were in Socrates position, I wouldn’t try to escape from prison.

One practical result would be a reluctance to accept the conclusion that a virtue is in fact a techne, since such a characterization relies on a familiarity with types of knowledge and activity whose semblances to justice, bravery, and so on are most readily understood by comparison. As Socrates had pointed out, it is frequently more difficult to escape doing wrong than it is to escape death. A worthy life must include philosophy for it is the appropriate means to conduct the examination of one’s life and pursue self-mastery.


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