The extant sources agree that Socrates was profoundly ugly, resembling a satyr more than a man—and resembling not at all the statues that turned up later in ancient times and now grace Internet sites and the covers of books. He had wide-set, bulging eyes that darted sideways and enabled him, like a crab, to see not only what was straight ahead, but what was beside him as well; a flat, upturned nose with flaring nostrils; and large fleshy lips like an ass.
Socrates is revered for his shifting of Greek philosophical thought from the contemplation of the nature of the universe, which occupied the philosophers before him, to the examination of human life and its problems. He was the first to study ethics as a science—that is, to study morality in a systematic, consistent manner.
Scholars have noted that the impact of Socrates on the development of Western culture and philosophy cannot be overstated, and some have suggested that his teachings influenced the development of Christianity. Yet the study of Socrates's philosophy is plagued by the "problem of Socrates": After his death, and perhaps before it, his followers began to record details of his life and thought, but these are arguably more interpretive in nature than they are biographical.
Therefore, one of the greatest debates surrounding Socrates is that of the accuracy and validity of the Socratic sources, primarily the writings of Xenophon and Plato. Other critical issues include the interpretation of Socrates's ethical theses that virtue is knowledge, wrong-doing is involuntary, and that the care of the soul is the primary condition for living well; and of his controversial views regarding the treatment of enemies and retaliation.
Socrates was born in B. He was a student of a physicist, Archelaus, and was perhaps interested in the philosophy of Anaxagoras. He is believed to have lived on a small inheritance and on investments made through a wealthy friend.
Socrates served in the army, fought in the Peloponnesian War, and married a woman named Xanthippe, who bore two or three sons, sources say.
When Socrates was 70 years old, he was accused of "irreligion," or impiety, and of corrupting the youth of Athens. While Socrates did not leave any writings, his followers Xenophon and Plato both wrote extensively about Socrates's beliefs and experiences.
Yet their respective accounts differ markedly. In addition to the records of Xenophon and Plato, Aristophanes ridiculed Socrates in one of his comedies, Clouds B. Some critics have relied on a combination of these sources as a means of accessing the historical Socrates, and others place more weight on either Xenophon's or Plato's version.
Despite early preference for Xenophon, many twentieth-century scholars have argued that Plato's portrayal of Socrates presents the more accurate version, however flawed by idealism it may be.
Xenophon has been criticized by scholars such as E.
Zeller for the simple and unphilosophic manner in which Socrates is depicted. Others, such as J. Forbes, have suggested that Xenophon's presentation of Socrates as a moral censor and teacher of practical values, rather than as a philosophic revolutionary, may have been driven by Xenophon's intention of minimizing the "revolutionary aspects of the thought of Socrates.
Rogers has argued that preference for Xenophon stems from the distrust of Plato, who may have created his version of Socrates as a mouthpiece for his own philosophy.
Yet Rogers has gone on to caution that Xenophon is an apologist and should not be trusted more than Plato. Dubs has supported the case for Plato and has suggested that Xenophon may have gotten some of his information about Socrates from Plato.
Dubs has also argued that while Plato may have "put words in So-crates's mouth" it is precisely because of the fact that Plato was an accomplished artist that we should trust his portrayal of Socrates: Plato, Dubs stressed, would have only made Socrates utter what would have been "thoroughly appropriate" for Socrates to say.
Bury has also stressed the value of Plato's version over that of Xenophon, stating that the Socrates who emerges from Plato's Dialogues is "a figure probably resembling the real Socrates. Hackforth, have maintained that criticism of Xeno-phon is too harsh, and that while Xenophon may have not been sufficiently interested in philosophy to do justice to the portrayal of Socrates, Plato was too much involved in his subject matter to be objective.
Critics such as Luis Navia have suggested ways in which these apparently contradictory accounts may be reconciled. Forbes has also argued for using a combination of testimonies, as well as a study of the development of Socrates's philosophy, in order to identify a consistent and faithful view of Socrates.
The concepts of knowledge, virtue, and goodness are intertwined in the philosophy of Socrates.
He taught that "virtue is knowledge"; that the aim of a good man is to care for his soul; and that to care for the soul is to make oneself as wise as possible—that is, to attain knowledge, or virtue. Norman Gulley has examined the concept of "the good" by reviewing the role of goodness in the political and religious views of Socrates.
Alfonso Gomez-Lobo has studied the types of things Socrates claims to have knowledge of and the types of knowledge he disavows in order to make sense of Socrates's admission of ignorance at his trial.
Guthrie has discussed the various ways that the idea that virtue is knowledge was interpreted by Xenophon, Plato, and Aristotle.
Related to such discussions of the nature of virtue, knowledge, goodness, and the soul, is the concept of wrongdoing. Taylor has explained, Socrates taught that virtue is identical to knowledge and that vice is, in all cases, the result of ignorance, or intellectual error, so that wrongdoing is always involuntary.
This idea has presented difficulties for many who study philosophy, from the time of Socrates through the twentieth century, and scholars have attempted to interpret Socrates's meaning in a variety of ways.
Taylor has argued that Socrates's statement that wrongdoing is involuntary means that a person does evil in spite of the fact that it is evil, for the person falsely believes that he or she can gain some good wealth, power, pleasure by doing evil.
Another view that was regarded as controversial in the fifth century was Socrates's belief that injustice is never justified.Philosophy Ethics The Ethics of Socrates.
Abstract: The ethics of Socrates is briefly outlined. Socrates' Life ( BC): Several features of Socrates' life give insight into his ethics. The great example of the trial and death of Socrates demonstrates the close connection between his character and his philosophy.
Socrates explains his view by stating that the fear of death amounts to simply thinking one is wise when one is not, and that we should also reflect upon how good a reason there is to hope that death is a good thing. Philosophy Ethics The Ethics of Socrates. Abstract: The ethics of Socrates is briefly outlined.
Socrates' Life ( BC): Several features of Socrates' life give insight into his ethics. The great example of the trial and death of Socrates demonstrates the close connection between his character and his philosophy. Dec 14, · The conflation of Socrates with the Sophists is based on a superficial similarity between the interests of Socrates and the sophists concerning education and virtue, but which fails to distinguish between the moral relativism of the Sophists and the belief in absolute moral standards held by Socrates (and his puppet-master Plato).
The Death of Philosophy. Reference and Self-reference in Contemporary Thought. Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel. Translated by Richard A. Lynch.
Columbia University Press. how the true philosopher practices for death (from the Phaedo) I want to explain to you how it seems to me natural that a man who has really devoted his life to philosophy should be cheerful in the face of death, and confident of finding the greatest blessing in the next world when his life is finished.
Then it is your opinion in.