Socrates definition of "good"
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
25-01-2015, 09:01 AM
Socrates definition of "good"
I've been discussing Socrates with a friend after reading Plato's Republic and I'm interested in him deeply. Is there any other works that show his perspective on the definition of good?

From what I've read so far he supported objective ethics, whereas those he argued against had a subjective view.

Basically put, Socrates was not a relativist. Does this seem accurate?
(P.S were Sophists relativists?)

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-01-2015, 12:06 PM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2015 12:09 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
I'd say Sophists were not relativists. They taught virtue, or claimed to teach virtue. So they surely argued there is such a thing as virtue and vice and their teaching is virtuous. That is not relativistic at all. Whether or not their teaching was consistent and correct, that is a different kind of question.

You're right, Socrates was not a relativist. He could expose relativism as a logical error. He could disprove damn near everything and this is why he was in effect a nihilist.

Socrates did not engage in a productive debate, only to expose flaws and ignorance in people's thinking. He did not put forward any logical proposals on how life should be best lived and how the society should be best organized. He pretty much got disgusted with the society and was glad to die, as evident from his last words.

He was a great man, but still deserves some criticism, although not so much as Plato, who's works lead to dictatorship. Aristotle was the most correct of them all, both rationally and empirically as much as it was possible back then. Plato was more of a mystical visionary than solely a philosopher.

Here are some opinions on Socrates that make sense to me.
http://media.freedomainradio.com/feed/FD...crates.mp3
http://media.freedomainradio.com/feed/FD...Family.mp3
http://media.freedomainradio.com/feed/FD...it_Man.mp3

For those new to Socrates, here's a telling of his story.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Luminon's post
25-01-2015, 12:45 PM
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
Thank you for all of that. I'm thinking of starting a module on ancient Greek philosophy at uni so I thought I'd delve into the most popular philosophers at the time.

The opinion I've formed of him differs to that of other philosophers. Usually they will put forward their opinion and form a new philosophy such as Aristotle's Nicomachean ethics, Spinoza's "pantheism" etc. However Socrates' sole importance is not a contribution to philosophy in the same way. He seems to lean more towards linguistic-philosophy and teaching people HOW to think rather than WHAT to think. For this reason it seems crucial that all beginners in philosophy learn about Socrates' and his ability to pick apart the language of others as if it were a maze and point out every single dead end.

These points are making it hard for me to understand his personal opinions. Very elusive indeed. Is there any accurate overall summary of his philosophical standpoint on ethics? Because of his refutation of subjective ethics does that not mean that he believed in objectivity?

I like Plato's idea of a dictatorship. My Greek tutor seems to stand up for it as he claims a dictatorship does not carry any moral connotations, it's merely a modern perspective to assume a dictatorship is immoral. Although my tutor is also an absolute fucking alcoholic (also does not carry any moral connotations).

What books would you recommend for understanding Socrates' personal opinions? Are Plato's commentaries sufficient?

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-01-2015, 12:58 PM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2015 01:02 PM by undergroundp.)
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
My main problem with Socrates is that all we know about him is mostly found in Plato's dialogues (and Plato was like, the greatest Socrates fanboy ever).

If we define "good" as "virtue", as Luminon mentioned, then we could say that Socrates did talk about "good" and "bad". Your main sources should be, of course, Plato's dialogues, and mainly Protagoras. Critias could also be a good source for Socrates' ideas on virtue, since he talks about the fall of Atlantis that was caused by a lack of virtue.

You can't find his ideas on "good" and "bad" in direct quotes, but what can be deduced from his dialogues is that, for him, being good requires knowing what is good and that "virtue" has different definitions for different people. Oh, and he was definitely not a relativist. He was the exact opposite.

Now, this is not exactly about what is good, but there's a part in Timaeus where he talks about evil and how or why a man becomes evil if you're interested:

For no man is voluntarily bad; but the bad become bad by reason of an ill disposition of the body and bad education, things which are hateful to every man and happen to him against his will. And in the case of pain too in like manner the soul suffers much evil from the body. For where the acid and briny phlegm and other bitter and bilious humours wander about in the body, and find no exit or escape, but are pent up within and mingle their own vapours with the motions of the soul, and are blended, with them, they produce all sorts of diseases, more or fewer, and in every degree of intensity; and being carried to the three places of the soul, whichever they may severally assail, they create infinite varieties of ill-temper and melancholy, of rashness and cowardice, and also of forgetfulness and stupidity. Further, when to this evil constitution of body evil forms of government are added and evil discourses are uttered in private as well as in public, and no sort of instruction is given in youth to cure these evils, then all of us who are bad become bad from two causes which are entirely beyond our control. In such cases the planters are to blame rather than the plants, the educators rather than the educated. But however that may be, we should endeavour as far as we can by education, and studies, and learning, to avoid vice and attain virtue; this, however, is part of another subject.

*EDIT*
The truth is, the only way to actually see through Socrates' ideas as a whole is to read every single book about him (I mean through Plato and Xenophon). There are no works that clearly define his ideas, as he wrote no books himself.

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes undergroundp's post
25-01-2015, 01:01 PM
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
exceptional thread.
I'll be reading along.

thanks

When I want your opinion I'll read your entrails.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes WitchSabrina's post
25-01-2015, 01:04 PM
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
(25-01-2015 12:58 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  My main problem with Socrates is that all we know about him is mostly found in Plato's dialogues (and Plato was like, the greatest Socrates fanboy ever).

If we define "good" as "virtue", as Luminon mentioned, then we could say that Socrates did talk about "good" and "bad". Your main sources should be, of course, Plato's dialogues, and mainly Protagoras. Critias could also be a good source for Socrates' ideas on virtue, since he talks about the fall of Atlantis that was caused by a lack of virtue.

You can't find his ideas on "good" and "bad" in direct quotes, but what can be deduced from his dialogues is that, for him, being good requires knowing what is good and that "virtue" has different definitions for different people. Oh, and he was definitely not a relativist. He was the exact opposite.

Now, this is not exactly about what is good, but there's a part in Timaeus where he talks about evil and how or why a man becomes evil if you're interested:

For no man is voluntarily bad; but the bad become bad by reason of an ill disposition of the body and bad education, things which are hateful to every man and happen to him against his will. And in the case of pain too in like manner the soul suffers much evil from the body. For where the acid and briny phlegm and other bitter and bilious humours wander about in the body, and find no exit or escape, but are pent up within and mingle their own vapours with the motions of the soul, and are blended, with them, they produce all sorts of diseases, more or fewer, and in every degree of intensity; and being carried to the three places of the soul, whichever they may severally assail, they create infinite varieties of ill-temper and melancholy, of rashness and cowardice, and also of forgetfulness and stupidity. Further, when to this evil constitution of body evil forms of government are added and evil discourses are uttered in private as well as in public, and no sort of instruction is given in youth to cure these evils, then all of us who are bad become bad from two causes which are entirely beyond our control. In such cases the planters are to blame rather than the plants, the educators rather than the educated. But however that may be, we should endeavour as far as we can by education, and studies, and learning, to avoid vice and attain virtue; this, however, is part of another subject.

I am aware that Socrates as a person is not one we can rely on as historical figure for definite but it is the ideas as written in the accounts of him exist and we can attribute them to a person or even concept named Socrates. (I don't know if concept is the right word).

Thank you! Those sources are what I need to narrow down my studies on this topic. What's I'm finding difficult is differentiating between virtues and morals.

P.S Mind my philosophical jargon as I'm still getting the hang of it, I notice that I keep getting words and concepts mixed up.

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-01-2015, 01:13 PM
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
(25-01-2015 01:04 PM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  I am aware that Socrates as a person is not one we can rely on as historical figure for definite but it is the ideas as written in the accounts of him exist and we can attribute them to a person or even concept named Socrates. (I don't know if concept is the right word).

Thank you! Those sources are what I need to narrow down my studies on this topic. What's I'm finding difficult is differentiating between virtues and morals.

P.S Mind my philosophical jargon as I'm still getting the hang of it, I notice that I keep getting words and concepts mixed up.

If it helps, the Ancient Greek word for "virtue" had a bunch of meanings back then (bravery, beauty, skill, morality, glory) so Socrates must have had a hard time himself defining what it is exactly. The only thing that can help you here for context would be some analysis on Socrates' dialogues.

I should also mention that in Ancient and Modern Greek, "ethics" and "morality" are often the exact same word. You could read some of Aristotle's works on ethics, as he defines some of these concepts pretty clearly and these works are based on Plato and Socrates.

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-01-2015, 02:18 PM
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
(25-01-2015 01:13 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(25-01-2015 01:04 PM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  I am aware that Socrates as a person is not one we can rely on as historical figure for definite but it is the ideas as written in the accounts of him exist and we can attribute them to a person or even concept named Socrates. (I don't know if concept is the right word).

Thank you! Those sources are what I need to narrow down my studies on this topic. What's I'm finding difficult is differentiating between virtues and morals.

P.S Mind my philosophical jargon as I'm still getting the hang of it, I notice that I keep getting words and concepts mixed up.

If it helps, the Ancient Greek word for "virtue" had a bunch of meanings back then (bravery, beauty, skill, morality, glory) so Socrates must have had a hard time himself defining what it is exactly. The only thing that can help you here for context would be some analysis on Socrates' dialogues.

I should also mention that in Ancient and Modern Greek, "ethics" and "morality" are often the exact same word. You could read some of Aristotle's works on ethics, as he defines some of these concepts pretty clearly and these works are based on Plato and Socrates.

Thank you. It is apparent that it is up to us as readers to figure out what his opinions would be, based on his dialogues.

It's quite frustrating. Though it is delightfully engaging! It encourages one to investigate further into philosophical works. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. In the novel "Sophie's World", there is a good summary of the Socratic method explained by a character that goes like this;

"Socrates, whose mother was a midwife, used to say that his art was like the art of the midwife. She does not herself give birth to the child, but she is there to help during its delivery. Similarly, Socrates saw his task as helping people to "give birth" to the correct insight, since real understanding must come from within. It could not be imparted by someone else. And only the understanding that comes from within can lead to true insight".

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes SunnyD1's post
25-01-2015, 02:29 PM
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
(25-01-2015 02:18 PM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  Thank you. It is apparent that it is up to us as readers to figure out what his opinions would be, based on his dialogues.

It's quite frustrating. Though it is delightfully engaging! It encourages one to investigate further into philosophical works. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. In the novel "Sophie's World", there is a good summary of the Socratic method explained by a character that goes like this;

"Socrates, whose mother was a midwife, used to say that his art was like the art of the midwife. She does not herself give birth to the child, but she is there to help during its delivery. Similarly, Socrates saw his task as helping people to "give birth" to the correct insight, since real understanding must come from within. It could not be imparted by someone else. And only the understanding that comes from within can lead to true insight".

Oh boy, what a flashback Big Grin

Sophie's world was the book that got me into philosophy back when I was 14, still one of my favorite books!

As for Socrates' method, I had to learn that by heart for my finals at school. It was probably the only part of that book that I didn't struggle much with because I liked it. I always thought it was the perfect way to have a conversation with anyone Smile

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-01-2015, 02:41 PM
RE: Socrates definition of "good"
(25-01-2015 02:29 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(25-01-2015 02:18 PM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  Thank you. It is apparent that it is up to us as readers to figure out what his opinions would be, based on his dialogues.

It's quite frustrating. Though it is delightfully engaging! It encourages one to investigate further into philosophical works. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. In the novel "Sophie's World", there is a good summary of the Socratic method explained by a character that goes like this;

"Socrates, whose mother was a midwife, used to say that his art was like the art of the midwife. She does not herself give birth to the child, but she is there to help during its delivery. Similarly, Socrates saw his task as helping people to "give birth" to the correct insight, since real understanding must come from within. It could not be imparted by someone else. And only the understanding that comes from within can lead to true insight".

Oh boy, what a flashback Big Grin

Sophie's world was the book that got me into philosophy back when I was 14, still one of my favorite books!

As for Socrates' method, I had to learn that by heart for my finals at school. It was probably the only part of that book that I didn't struggle much with because I liked it. I always thought it was the perfect way to have a conversation with anyone Smile

I've kept hold of the book since my English teacher recommended it in high school, always revert back to it when I need to re-read the basics of something and get the gist of again Tongue

I always planned to do philosophy at university, but ended up in classics. Been trying to reignite my interest and at the same time make it a tool for success in my academic studies which is why I wish to learn about Socrates right now!

The Socratic method is fantastic, but using it in the form of Socratic irony nowadays leads people into thinking that you are genuinely stupid, rather than trying to learn.

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes SunnyD1's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: