What was Socrates' main value?

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Aphoric
 
Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 05:26 pm
I've been reading a lot about Socrates recently, but there's a fundamental characteristic about his values I've yet to be able to discern. I know that two things he placed utmost value in (if they indeed can be boiled down to two things) were knowledge and virtue. I'm assuming of course, that they were not equally important to him, and hope they aren't because if they are it's going to make my life a heck of a lot more difficult.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 06:27 pm
@Aphoric,
It may be that for Socrates, the pursuit of knowledge and the striving for virtue were not all that different nor were they separate activities.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 09:28 pm
@jgweed,
Smile
I have heard it said that Socrates deserved his hemlock, and I am not sure I disagree, he took delight in making some of his fellow Athenians look the fool. Perhaps that is why when he had his day in court the sentiment was much against him, did he earn that judgement?
 
CarolA
 
Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 09:33 pm
@Aphoric,
Aphoric wrote:
I've been reading a lot about Socrates recently, but there's a fundamental characteristic about his values I've yet to be able to discern. I know that two things he placed utmost value in (if they indeed can be boiled down to two things) were knowledge and virtue. I'm assuming of course, that they were not equally important to him, and hope they aren't because if they are it's going to make my life a heck of a lot more difficult.


Why would this make your life more difficult? Are you thinking of doing some research into very non-virtuous things? :bigsmile:
I am sure Socrates could have argued that knowledge without virtue was not worth having, not real knowledge (or perhaps wisdom) or something along those lines. Of course we only have Plato's word on what Socrates thought, but as the ancient world isn't littered with people writing about Plato's complete idiocy I presume most of his earlier works were a realistic interpretation of Socrates' thoughts. Socrates himself seemed to claim that he had no knowledge, perhaps he is better summed up as a constant seeker after knowledge.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 10:16 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Smile
I have heard it said that Socrates deserved his hemlock, and I am not sure I disagree, he took delight in making some of his fellow Athenians look the fool. Perhaps that is why when he had his day in court the sentiment was much against him, did he earn that judgement?


It depends what you mean by earn that judgment. Popular authority typically has no idea why it does the things it does and, thus, judgment seems to be related to chance in the way many things are done today.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 10:40 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus,Smile

We are not talking about today, the community of Athens at least its leading citizens must have been a rather close grouping, very familar with one another. Socates discovered he had a gift in his intellect and the development of the process of the Socratic method, only a fool willing makes enemies, and he did so with abandonment. Was he to focused on delighting his young students or perhaps his age was catching up to him, he repeatedly made fools out of leading citizens of Athens and I think his young followers loved it. He was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens, that was in reference to the gods supposedly, but, I think it was payback time, don't you?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 17 Oct, 2008 09:43 am
@Aphoric,
The early "Sokratic" dialogues were written shortly after his death, and it is argued (for example, by A.E. Taylor in Plato:The Man and his Work) that there were enough people living who knew Sokrates to raise objections to Plato's portrait of the great man; we have also the independent writing of the general Xenophon with which to compare Plato's recounting.
As a perpetual "gadfly" the questioning of Sokrates was no doubt upsetting to the leading society; people who must always ask "why is this so?" or push others for clarification of their opinions
are not always welcome to governments struggling to maintain themselves:the period in Greek history was one of the struggle of the city states for hegemony within Greece and of the wars to protect Greece and its own civilisation against the Persians.

Sokrates was talking to a well-known politician:"When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and ... tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is - for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know." (Jowett, 21c-d)

Now it has been argued that the charges brought against Sokrates by Meletus were really designed to force him into exile. When found guilty by a close count, he could have proposed a alternative to his death sentence, or (when he failed to do that and instead mocked the court by suggesting a minimal fine) he could have easily fled Athens and settled elsewhere (there were no extradition treaties).
 
MJA
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 12:05 pm
@jgweed,
Socrates valued truth and not as you say "knowledge" Aphoric, for knowledge can be true and or untrue. Socrates was a true searcher, a philosopher, or lover of truth. And being truth and virtue are equally right or good, then a lover of both makes Socrates and his measure or value also equal, or One and the same.
I would value him equal or nothing more or less than the goodness of the truth of One.


=
MJA
 
Stringfellow
 
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2008 10:00 pm
@MJA,
Arete (Greek: ἀρετή)in its basic sense, means "excellence" or "virtue". Arete is bound up with the notion of one's fulfillment of purpose; the act of living up to one's full potential. I think Socrates believed the progression toward human purpose was [Reason ->Virtue->Happiness], with Happiness being the "main" goal.

S.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:16 am
@Stringfellow,
Re: The Thread-Title's Question

... the socratic method for fleshing out the "whys" and repercussions of any particular view
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:49 am
@Aphoric,
Aphoric wrote:
I've been reading a lot about Socrates recently, but there's a fundamental characteristic about his values I've yet to be able to discern. I know that two things he placed utmost value in (if they indeed can be boiled down to two things) were knowledge and virtue. I'm assuming of course, that they were not equally important to him, and hope they aren't because if they are it's going to make my life a heck of a lot more difficult.


As a matter of fact, Socrates held that knowledge is virtue. (Known as "the Socratic Paradox") What he appears to have meant by that is that it is impossible for someone to know what is the right thing to do, and not do it, so that if you do the wrong thing it is because of ignorance of what is the right thing to do. Why is that? Because, according to Socrates, if you do the wrong thing, you are only hurting yourself. ("It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong") You are harming the most important part of you, really you, your own soul. And, no one would knowingly harm himself, of course. So that if you do wrong, it must be out of ignorance of what is right. Plato lays all this out in his dialogue, The Republic.

Now Aristotle thought that Plato was wrong about this. He also thought that a person was harming himself by doing wrong, but he explained how this could happen knowingly by what Aristotle called, akrasia, or, "the weakness of the will". People sometimes just cannot help themselves doing what they know is harmful to themselves because they are weak-willed, and choose short-term pleasure over long-term happiness. To be wise is not to do this.

What do you think of that?
 
Stringfellow
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 04:59 pm
@Aphoric,
[quote=Aphoric]...two things [Socrates] placed utmost value in were knowledge and virtue. I'm assuming of course, that they were not equally important to him,...[/quote]

What did Socrates value? Knowledge, love, virtue, happiness, wisdom, dialogue, "the Good", inquiry, etc.,. Which one was his "main" value could be arrived at in different ways, such as counting the times he addressed each one and giving the prize to the most often discussed. Or by taking the dialogues in which these values were discussed and determining which the highest value in his estimation seemed. It seems to me they are all put in "the soup" and stirred in ways that make one emerge above the other given which reading you are focusing on.

My personal favorite is virtue as I have stated; and virtue in itself (as excellence) and the process of working toward it. In recounting the Myth of Er Plato says that "Virtue is free, and as a man honors or dishonors her he will have more or less of her..." And IMHO, when asking how philosophy affects us personally, it is important to focus on what moves us, not whether or not we get it right at this moment in time. There is a difference in learning philosophy for a school exam and learning it for one's own life. I think that is an important distinction to make given your original query.

Best.,
S.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 05:26 pm
@Stringfellow,
Stringfellow wrote:


What did Socrates value? Knowledge, love, virtue, happiness, wisdom, dialogue, "the Good", inquiry, etc.,. Which one was his "main" value could be arrived at in different ways, such as counting the times he addressed each one and giving the prize to the most often discussed. Or by taking the dialogues in which these values were discussed and determining which the highest value in his estimation seemed. It seems to me they are all put in "the soup" and stirred in ways that make one emerge above the other given which reading you are focusing on.



My personal favorite is virtue as I have stated; and virtue in itself (as excellence) and the process of working toward it. In recounting the Myth of Er Plato says that "Virtue is free, and as a man honors or dishonors her he will have more or less of her..." And IMHO, when asking how philosophy affects us personally, it is important to focus on what moves us, not whether or not we get it right at this moment in time. There is a difference in learning philosophy for a school exam and learning it for one's own life. I think that is an important distinction to make given your original query.

Best.,
S.

I think that what we learned in school was what Socrates and Plato thought about these matters. Not what we think we learned in our own life.. And that is the difference.
 
Stringfellow
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 05:38 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I think that what we learned in school was what Socrates and Plato thought about these matters. Not what we think we learned in our own life.. And that is the difference.
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Once I had a little dog who followed me everywhere and would nip at my pants and not let go. I used to hit him with a rolled up newspaper. But perhaps the following will suffice in this instance. So I'll say that what you think is your own business, but the original query included how it affected Aphoric's life so my answer is for him. What we learned in school is not the final answer. Inquiry doesn't end with the institution of education, a BA, MA or even a PhD. but with what we do with our continued processing and re-viewing of it. If the question had been answered Q.E.D, we would be left with Plato and Socrates only, and not Aristotle, Avicenna, Hume, or Heidegger, et al, ad infinitum.

Oxford University grants a Masters in Liberal Arts 3 years after the student graduates with no other schooling necessary. The idea being that through the processing, continued learning and growth within the individual mind, that person has earned the right to a Masters Degree. That said, I think your are absolutely correct that that is the difference. I've seen it in your "dead- horse beating" responses. Anyone of us can read the Cliff's notes on these things, or buy a copy of Philosophy in 90 minutes, but it takes a lifetime to grow into the answers if even then. So, read a little more, ask your own questions, form your own opinions, then I'll take your response with more than a grain of salt.

S.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:01 pm
@Stringfellow,
Stringfellow wrote:
Once I had a little dog who followed me everywhere and would nip at my pants and not let go. I used to hit him with a rolled up newspaper. But perhaps the following will suffice in this instance. So I'll say that what you think is your own business, but the original query included how it affected Aphoric's life so my answer is for him. What we learned in school is not the final answer. Inquiry doesn't end with the institution of education, a BA, MA or even a PhD. but with what we do with our continued processing and re-viewing of it. If the question had been answered Q.E.D, we would be left with Plato and Socrates only, and not Aristotle, Avicenna, Hume, or Heidegger, et al, ad infinitum.

Oxford University grants a Masters in Liberal Arts 3 years after the student graduates with no other schooling necessary. The idea being that through the processing, continued learning and growth within the individual mind, that person has earned the right to a Masters Degree. That said, I think your are absolutely correct that that is the difference. I've seen it in your "dead- horse beating" responses. Anyone of us can read the Cliff's notes on these things, or buy a copy of Philosophy in 90 minutes, but it takes a lifetime to grow into the answers if even then. So, read a little more, ask your own questions, form your own opinions, then I'll take your response with more than a grain of salt.

S.

What I pointed out was that the philosophical questions about what Plato or Aristotle thought about virtue and so on is one thing. What someone on he avenue thinks (if he does) about such matters is a different thing. They ought not to be confused. Every man is not his own philosopher even if he happens to be interested in philosophy. (There is no need for abuse, but if you feel the need for spewing it, go ahead).
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:03 pm
@Aphoric,
And of course people have spent lifetimes thinking/debating about what Socrates and Plato were really trying to say. The interpretation you were taught by one professor might be totally off according to another. At some point you need to form your own opinion, because the answers are not black and white.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:26 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss wrote:
And of course people have spent lifetimes thinking/debating about what Socrates and Plato were really trying to say. The interpretation you were taught by one professor might be totally off according to another. At some point you need to form your own opinion, because the answers are not black and white.


There is the text, and what Socrates says. In any case the confusion is not about what Socrates meant or said, but rather between that, and what people who may or may not think about the matter say. Most people do not spend much time thinking about the matter anyway.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:39 pm
@Aphoric,
kennethamy;35399 wrote:
There is the text, and what Socrates says. In any case the confusion is not about what Socrates meant or said, but rather between that, and what people who may or may not think about the matter say. Most people do not spend much time thinking about the matter anyway.


Yes, the text originally written in attic greek, which is of course open to interpretation first of all simply depending on the translator. Reading the works in english already distorts the meaning of the text and what Socrates says, which you have to keep in mind.

There are many in academia who have painstakingly gone through the texts...Strauss used to say that this was absolutely essential when reading Plato.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2008 09:01 am
@Pangloss,
Pangloss wrote:
Yes, the text originally written in attic greek, which is of course open to interpretation first of all simply depending on the translator. Reading the works in english already distorts the meaning of the text and what Socrates says, which you have to keep in mind.

There are many in academia who have painstakingly gone through the texts...Strauss used to say that this was absolutely essential when reading Plato.


There is always a range of interpretation. But no one would interpret Socrates (Plato) as denying that knowledge both a necessary and sufficient condition of virtue. There are also limits to the range of interpretation. There is a French saying which goes, "to translate is to betray". And you can see what they mean. But, there are distortions, and then, there are distortions. You are, I suppose, not denying that some translations are better than others, and the the best pretty well tell us what Plato said, so that is not an insuperable problem.
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jgweed
 
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2008 09:31 am
@Aphoric,
Socrates never wrote anything himself, and all we really know of his thinking is second-hand. What we can surmise from these accounts is that:
1. Socrates's "diamon" only told him what NOT to do.
2. Socrates engaged in dialogue with people around him in all walks of life, and challenged them to think through what they believed. Perplexity and confusion, once acknowledged, leads to insights of which every man is capable.
3. Socrates (Theaetetus) saw his own vocation as one of assisting discoveries, and called himself a "midwife" who only assisted in birth, but could not himself give birth. He does not lay down truths, then, but helps others find it. For this reason, most of the "Socratic dialogues" end in aporia, in which there is no final decision or definition or accepted answer, but in which everyone feels that progress has been made.
 
 

 
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