Essay, Research Paper
The original word for philosophy steams from the Greek word philosopha, meaning love of wisdom . Although Socrates himself never claimed to have any
answers to the questions he raised, his views and methods of philosophy are the
cornerstone of what philosophy is today. The nature of philosophy, as viewed by
Socrates, is centred around the wellness of the soul, virtue being defined as
knowledge and the pursuit of truth through the questioning of beliefs.
Socrates heavily subscribed to a dualistic view of the body and the soul.
He saw the body, or the flesh as something engaging in vacant pleasures and
of no value to the betterment of an individual. Instead, Socrates focused himself on the soul, by nature being divine and therefore deserving of the most attention. Socrates: And is life worth living for us with that part of us corrupted that unjust actions harms and just actions benefits? Or do we think that part of us, whatever it is, that is concerned with justice and injustice, is inferior to the body? Crito: Not at all. S: Is it more valuable? C: Much more. In this passage from Crito, Socrates clearly puts emphasis on the soul,
exclaiming that even life itself becomes death when in pursuit of worldly, fleshly desires. Concerned with the wellness of the soul and the divine, Socrates defines virtue as the knowledge of good. He believed that if one knows what is good, he will always do what is good. This lead Socrates to the conclusion that those who do wrong haven t the knowledge of what is good. This is what most likely lead to Socrates placing a primary focus on discussing ethics. Socrates: So with other matters, not to enumerate them all, and certainly with actions just and unjust, shameful and beautiful, good and bad, about what we are now deliberating, should we follow the opinion of many and fear it [wisdom] or that of the one who has knowledge of these things and before whom we feel fear and shame more than before all the others. If we do not follow his directions, we shall harm and corrupt that part of ourselves that is improved by just actions and destroyed by unjust actions.Socrates attempted through philosophy to guide both himself and others to a position where their morals and ethics were flawless, leaving them in a position to do no wrong. Socrates believed that if people had false conceptions about virtues, love,justice, piety and other ethical ideas, they could not be trusted to do the right thing. This gave Socrates the justification he felt needed to tear down the positions held by others concerning moral issues. Socrates: We must therefore examine whether we should act in this was or not, as not only now but at all times I am the kind of man who listens only to the argument that on reflection seems best for me. The questioning of a belief system by Socrates is what we now commonly refer to as the Socratic Method . This occurs when a person with an established idea agrees, through a series of questions, to a principal contradictory to their original position. Their definition or conception of a idea is deemed inconsistent or unacceptable. Because Socrates never offers options after refuting one s ideas, it is easy to speculate that the idea of truth was being pursued rather than discovered.The love of wisdom was indeed an honourable and noble pursuit of Socrates. His ultimate desire to be a person not capable of wrongdoing was what drove him to the pursuit of truth in terms of various moral positions. The welfare of the soul, the understanding of virtue as knowledge and the critical examination of ones beliefs are united to form the nature of philosophy as defined by Socrates. As so much of today’s philosophy rests on the shoulders of Socrates’ thinking and techniques, in order for one to engage in present-day philosophy it is elemental to understand the nature of philosophy as given by Socrates.