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1 Athenian philosopher “Student” of Socrates Aristotle’s teacher Founded the Academy (Closed 525 AD; Justinian) Composed many (preserved) dialogues on.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Athenian philosopher “Student” of Socrates Aristotle’s teacher Founded the Academy (Closed 525 AD; Justinian) Composed many (preserved) dialogues on."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Athenian philosopher “Student” of Socrates Aristotle’s teacher Founded the Academy (Closed 525 AD; Justinian) Composed many (preserved) dialogues on morality, metaphysics and epistemology

2  The Apology  Ostensibly, the story of Socrates’ trial  Also represents Socrates’ conception of human nature as essentially rational  Background to the trial  Athenian democracy  Socrates the gadfly  Mocked in Aristophanes’ The Clouds  Socrates’ (divinely inspired) “inner voice” advises him  Apollo’s Oracle/Priestess at Delphi  “No one is wiser than Socrates”  Socrates says that he has no wisdom, small or great  Certainly not prominent Athenians  Neither politicians nor writers  Writers as “clairvoyants”! 2

3  From early rumor  Socrates paraphrases Aristophanes’ The Clouds : "Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others."  Current formal charge (Meletus, Anytus, Lycon)  impiety  practices new (unsanctioned) religion  does not recognize the State’s gods  corruption of youth 3

4  Result of trial  Socrates’ sentenced to execution  expectation of exile  Plato’s rejection of democracy in the Republic  Socrates’ defense  Against the rumor (Aristophanes)  Socrates denies any special wisdom expect that he knows his own ignorance  Admits he’s embarrassed the pompous 4

5  Against impiety  Socrates recognizes some gods (e.g. Apollo) even if other philosophers (Anaxagoras) don’t  Socrates recognizes the Oracle of Delphi (Apollo’s representative) who says that no one is wiser than Socrates  Accusation of practice of new religion implies Socrates recognizes some gods, which contradicts accusation of atheism 5

6  Against corruption of youth  This is the critical accusation  Socratic Paradox as defense  All normal humans are rational  Rational creatures are designed to seek only value, only what is good, only what is right  Hence, rational creatures can’t be bad intentionally  Hence, rational creatures are robots of reason & not driven by emotion 6

7  “Paradox” means “beyond belief.” A paradox expresses something that is simultaneously credible and incredible. Thus, Socratic Paradox regarding rationality:  To corrupt the youth is to make them evil  Evil youths would harm Socrates  No rational person would intentionally harm him/herself  Since Socrates is rational, he either  did not corrupt the youth or  did so only unintentionally  If he did not corrupt, he should not be punished  If he unintentionally corrupted the youths, he should be educated but not punished  Hence, in either case, Socrates should not be punished 7

8  A rational person will always and necessarily:  Try to do what he/she judges to be best  Never knowingly do what is wrong  Any behavior that appears wrong or immoral must result from  Ignorance of the immorality  Psychological impairment, malfunction or insanity 8

9  Rational persons act deliberately  Deliberation = the use of reason to select what is judged to be the best alternative action  So, rational persons always try to do what seems best  Hence, they never intentionally do what they think is wrong  Therefore, rational agents should never be punished for wrongdoing. At worst, they should be taught what is right or best. For once they know this, they will inevitably try to do what is right or best  Failure to try to do what is believed best = mental illness 9

10  Our inclination towards fallacy  Cognitive Biases (Daniel Kahneman (Princeton Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Behavorial Economics; Nobel Laureate in Economics) & Amos Tversky (Deceased Stanford Professor of Cognitive Psychology)Daniel Kahneman Amos Tversky  gambler’s fallacy  selecting a car  ordering effects on preferences  Impact Bias in predicting happiness Impact Bias in predicting happiness  Daniel Gilbert: Harvard Professor of Social Psychology  His research indicates that humans chronically err in estimating how happy their activities and property will make them.  Failures in deployment of knowledge  Where are my glasses?  Calculation errors on math test  Tip of the tongue phenomenon  Rational wrong doing  Augustine: weakness of will  Hume: reason as slave of desire 10

11  The unexamined life is not worth living  The examined life is the life of a rational person who undertakes to know what is generally good and valuable in life  Only such a person may come to know what is best to do or how to live so as to optimize what is valuable in life. 11

12  The unexamined life is one in which a person does not attempt to know what is generally good and valuable in life  Such a person cannot rely on deliberation to guide life  Rationality is wasted in such a person. Such a person cannot hope to have a good or rewarding life  So, the unexamined life, is not worth living 12

13  Is deliberation driven by value rather than desire?  Is evil action the result of ignorance or insanity?  Are people really saints?  Is education the only appropriate response to (unintentional) evil?  Are rational agents slaves to deliberation or are we free to do what is wrong? 13

14  Assume that as a rational person you  Inevitably seek what is most valuable in order to be happy  Rational deliberation optimizes your chance of securing what is most valuable and thereby being happy  Successful deliberation depends upon knowledge  Hence, your happiness depends on your actions being controlled by whomever is most knowledgeable, even if that is someone other than yourself  Hence you should surrender personal autonomy to whomever is more knowledgeable than you and committed to deliberating on your behalf to achieve what is most valuable for you  But wait! Is it better to be autonomous or ruled always and completely by whomever is wiser? 14

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