Presentation on theme: "SOCRATES “Western philosophy began with Socrates and Plato. All philosophers after him are merely reacting to or commenting on his philosophy.” (Alain."— Presentation transcript:
SOCRATES “Western philosophy began with Socrates and Plato. All philosophers after him are merely reacting to or commenting on his philosophy.” (Alain Badiou, 20th century French philosopher)
Life of Socrates: Socrates did not write anything, thus we only know his views from 2nd hand reports, written by later philosophers. 3 contemporary commentators were Plato the philosopher (his student), Xenophon the historian (his friend), and Aristophanes the playwright (an acquaintance).
Born in Athens to a sculptor and mid-wife, he learned his father’s art but devoted himself to philosophy, for which he became well known, and for which neglected his family life and avoided politics. Although not really poor, he chose to live a very non-material and semi-vagabond lifestyle.
A dutiful and lawful citizen, he served in the army and is present many Athenian public records of the time. In philosophizing and teaching the youth, he gave rise to an intellectual aristocracy which opposed tyranny and question Athenian convention, leading to general malcontent, popular hostility and personal hatred against him. This crystallized and took juridical form when he was accused of corrupting youth, denying the national gods; and then tried and executed by the state.
Socrates’ Reaction to Sophism: The Sophists defence of the relativism of knowledge and morality led to scepticism and then hedonism. They violently attacked the traditional beliefs about right and justice, leading to a doctrine of extremism.
The Sophist morality was to strengthen one's personality in order to surpass others in violence and in the contest or struggle for earthly goods, as well as “might makes right”. Socrates was reacting to this Sophist trend in democratic Athens.
Socrates tried to restore the values of a sacred and absolute morality based upon reason and logic. Agreed with their humanism and dismissed cosmology, but rejected sophist relativism and nihilism.
After Socrates, the Sophists did not entirely disappear; but lost all their influence and importance. Socrates concentrated all his attention on the search for moral concepts, convinced that the practice of morality must be preceded by a concept of justice.
Socrates’ Doctrines’: True knowledge and ideas, morals and concepts, are universal and absolute; common to all men and to all times; it is objective not subjective, and is not subject to the changes of fortune. We all want happiness but don’t know how to be happy, thus we give to vice and evil is ignorance.
Men are evil because they don’t understand absolute justice and morality. We cannot know true knowledge or morality without lifelong philosophical investigation.
We must be able to define concepts like holiness, justice and morality in order to know what they are, and we must know what they are in order to be holy, just and moral. Socrates did not claim to know anything, but he claimed to try to discover by questioning everything and determining what they were not, thus the Socratic Method.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” He was interested in human activities, concepts and institutions, and subjected them to objective reason. He questioned Homeric religion and ethics, but believed that the universe was guided by a god with a sense of purpose, a god that was the source of human consciousness and morality.