Socrates, philosophy. As a remarkable and influential thinker,

Socrates, the great
mind-philosopher who we recognize today as a legendary Athenian, was a man who
was able to usher in an era of philosophical inquiry that still lingers in our
present day. Enriched in his own hidden wisdom and in logic of common sense,
Socrates was a man in search of factual logic, truth and reasoning about
wisdom. His life-long mission became more than just a simple search; rather it
turned into a path of complex missions where answers of true wisdom lead him to
face charges of corrupting society. Despite all circumstances of his
philosophical life, Socrates remains one of the most significant and mysterious
figures in the world of Western philosophy. As a remarkable and influential
thinker, Socrates’ devotion in seeking wisdom thorough reasoning transformed
the entire world philosophy.

            Throughout his philosophical years, Socrates searched for
real knowledge, something that other philosophers didn’t see as priority. In
the mean time, Socrates worked on a logical approach of “the pursuit of truth”
which was developed by the Sophists. Socrates’ fearless ability and purpose and
willingness to call everything into question, and to accept nothing less than
satisfactory, justification of the nature of things, made him the first and
valid advocate of critical philosophy. For example, his unique situational
approach, use of methods and the ability to solve problems comes into play when
breaking down a problem into a series of questions, where answers gradually
distilled better solutions while the challenger and the challenged explore the
implications that carefully trigger and stimulate ideas. As a result, Socrates
would disprove and challenge any given contradictory claim with a
counterexample that would lead to a modified assertion closer to the truth,
which Socrates would then challenge again.

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            In “Apology” the Athenian democracy put Socrates on trial
and charged him with crippling state religion and corrupting the youth. In his
defense, his speech consisted of his approach to philosophy by exposing and
connecting its relations to real life. Socrates’ commitment to mindful
reasoning and genuine knowledge was what individualized him from the rest. To
call everything into question and justify claims logically and rationally.

            In contrast to Socrates method, Sophists were offering an
alternative education that claimed to be able to teach anything, which was appealing
to wealthy families. Their teaching was controversial and touched on important
philosophical themes where they advocated a naturalistic worldview in place of
the traditional and older mythological worldview, which served to undermined
traditional moral and religious values of the children they were instructing.

Additionally their teachings included an technique called anti-logic, which
involved arguing both sides of a case as strongly as possible. As a result of
those teachings, Sophists were accused of undermining facts and truth by making
the weaker argument appear stronger. Moreover, there was an ongoing debate
among the Pre-Socratic philosophers whether so-called facts about the world are
simply matters of human convention or matters of nature (custom versus nature)
where Sophists repeatedly defended the “custom” position, especially in matters
of political systems and ethics.

            Evidently, Socrates’ philosophical mission can be seen
here when he states: “He asked the oracle to tell him whether anyone was wiser
than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser”
(Plato, Apology, pg 2). Having that thought, Socrates led his effort to refute
the oracle by communicating with the honorable Athenians who he believed were
wiser. No matter how the conversation would end, Socrates concluded that he has
an awareness of his own ignorance, the very principle that each of them lacked.

His questioning tactics were his main weapon where he helped individuals to
achieve genuine self-knowledge (helped them think outside of the box) even if
it often turns out to be undesirable in its nature. His remarkable devotion to
truth left his loved ones and close friends puzzled after being convicted by
the jury and by refusing to accept exile to silence as his penalty. Instead,
Socrates upholds his public discussion of the great issues of life, wisdom and
virtue that is the most essential part of any valuable human which leads us to
his philosophical argument of “The unexamined life is not worth living.” 

            Base on Plato’s life representation of Socrates, we see
that he is willing to die for this principles rather than abandon his loyalty
to philosophy. This tactic of philosophical thinking can be applied today,
where many people are presented with a similar self-conflict between
philosophy, life, and death.  Many of us everyday
are faced with moments where we must decide between one’s loyalty to the truth
or proceed to the opposite end.

            For Socrates, the search for knowledge, truth and wisdom
begins with an attempt to actually understand the nature of who we truly are as
human beings. Socrates believed that before one can presume to understand the
world as whole, he/she must begin by understanding the reality of his/her own
consciousness. The nature of his philosophic views focused on the strength of
the soul, virtue, as the knowledge and quest for truth through the questioning
of beliefs. Socrates believed in the search for wisdom is understood in terms
of ones need to understand precisely who he/she is.

            In “Meno”, Plato introduces us to the philosophical themes that portrays
Socrates’s fate and focuses on the general question of virtue and the origin of
our moral knowledge. Witnessing Socratic opinion through out the readings, it
is evident that the focus of his discussion from morality to epistemology is
focused on how we possibly identify what virtue is.

            Based on the definition of virtue, virtue
is a moral excellence. It is a quality that is seen to be morally good and is
therefore valued as the building blocks of principle and good moral being.

Socrates sees and understands true virtue from the perspective of knowledge,
wisdom, courage and moderation. He argues that humans are very different from
one another and unequal in virtue. Interestingly, Socrates claims that virtue
“is something” that varies among those humans, but desire for one’s belief to
be good is perfectly universal since no human being ever knowingly desires what
is bad: “Then the acquisition of such goods is no more virtue than the
non-acquisition and want of them, but whatever is accompanied by justice or
honesty is virtue, and whatever is devoid of justice is vice” (Plato, Meno pg 6).

Interestingly, Socrates’ statement highlights one’s moral experience, where
possible realization of what is right spontaneously results in the need to
experience it, despite the fact that one’s moral experience can possibly be
mistrusted or misunderstood.

            In “Meno” the dialog portrays a theatrical scene where Socrates
challenges Meno into a debate of truth, where Meno courageously assumes his
knowledge of virtue where as a result he’ll find himself in a state of
confusion, suggesting that virtue is simply the desire for good things. As the
debate unfolds between Socrates and Meno, Socrates asks: “What is the nature of
the bee? and you answer that there are many kinds of bees, and I reply: But do
bees differ as bees, because there are many and different kinds of them; or are
they not rather to be distinguished by some other quality, as for example
beauty, size, or shape?” (Plato, Meno pg 2). We may say that, the virtue is the gardener who
cares for his garden all his life, by doing hard work gains intrinsic and
extrinsic awards: personal satisfaction and fresh produces. Due to Meno’s
inability to give a true definition of virtue, Socrates was sure
that Meno would be able to understand that a virtue is particularly different
from function to function, from goal to goal and from person to person.

            The great foundation of virtue raised a puzzling question
on ability to learn about what we do not know. Socrates’ believed that: “The
soul, then, as being immortal, and having been born again many times, and
having seen all things that exist, whether in this world or in the world below,
has knowledge of them all; and it is no wonder that she should be able to call
to remembrance all that she ever knew about virtue, and about everything; for
as all nature is akin, and the soul has learned all things; there is no
difficulty in her eliciting or as men say learning, out of a single
recollection, all the rest, if a man is strenuous and does not faint; for all
enquiry and all learning is but recollection. And therefore we ought not to
listen to this sophistical argument about the impossibility of enquiry: for it
will make us idle; and is sweet only to the sluggard; but the other saying will
make us active and inquisitive” (Plato, Meno pg 8). On that note, this
statement leads us to the assumption that either we already know what we’re
looking for or we don’t know what we’re looking for.

            The irony of knowledge raised the questions about our own
unique nature and function that as projected by Socrates, highlights the fact
of the ability of acknowledging that we already know for a fact of what we need
to know, but the question still remains whether or not virtue can be taught
(Plato, Meno pg 19). With that being said, argument remains that virtue is a
form of wisdom that is acquirable and benefits our education which leads to
another Socratic point of: “if there were teachers, it might be taught; and is
there were no teachers, not?” (Plato, Meno pg 19).  By stating this, Socrates overwrites the
Sophists methods by challenging those who claimed that they were successful
educators of virtue. Perhaps the best way to understand Socrates would be to
suppose that virtue is a genuine opinion that simply happens to lack a rational justification
which today we understand as “intuitive” thinking which leads us to
conclude that the difference between genuine knowledge and opinion is of the
greatest importance and it is not enough to accept true opinions or beliefs in
order to be right, but we must have logical reasons that adequately and
accurately justifies them.

            In the “Euthyphro”, a sharply critical conversation
unfolds where Socrates becomes engaged with a conceited young man who is
absolutely aware of his own ethical correctness. The challenge begins where
Socrates asks him to identify and explain what is “piety” (moral duty) and
its actual purpose (Plato, Euthyphro pg 3). The answer Socrates was looking for
was more than just a list of applied actions, he was seeking for a more
virtuous answer. Euthyphros response of what makes “right actions right” is
just a justification of the gods’ approval or it’s a gods’ love, which led to
Socrates’s critical and intellectual view.

            The question of right vs wrong creates a never-ending debate among
people, and most likely extends to the gods as well, as they too disagree among
themselves. In the presenting dilemma, Socrates somehow agrees with Euthypro’s
point: “But I believe, Socrates, that all the gods would be agreed as to the
propriety of punishing a murderer: there would be no difference of opinion
about that” (Plato, Euthypro, pg 4). The argument takes significant turn when
Euthypro states: “I should say that what all the gods love is pious and holy,
and the opposite which they all hate, impious,” where Socrates response was:
“We shall know better, my good friend, in a little while. The point, which I
should first wish to understand, is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the
gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods” (Euthypro,
pg 5). Evidently, Socrates created a dilemma from a (misleading) question on
pious and god’s love where Euthyphro had no legitimate explanation. Supposedly,
if the right act is pious because the gods love it, then moral correctness is
simply arbitrary, which simply depends on the gods changing their mind. If the
gods approve or love right actions (because they are truly right), then it is a
possibility of some kind hidden extraordinary values, which people might come
to know independently.

            Humans have a code of morality, which is a principle used
to distinguish what we consider right from what we consider wrong. But, if the
authority approves or disapproves certain actions, those decisions must be
available to all. So based on “Euthyphro” we can conclude that Socrates’
approach of persistent questioning guides us to eliminate incorrect answers,
which then navigates us toward a significant degree of intellectual
independence.

            Socrates became known for his great tactics in logical
arguments where as a result society has accepted this philosophical approach of
questioning. His disposition of critical thinking of a given conversations
opened the door to logic and wisdom to confront the challenges of the truths in
the modern philosophical world. Socrates’ ability to challenge people in
becoming open minded was a goal of his where his complex and proactive philosophical
personality left many to search for truth, morals and wisdoms of life. Although
Socrates is no longer alive, his tactics are greatly valued and used today as
we learn and teach others to question, explore and analyze ideas before we
accept them as truth.

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