The topic of my paper is the philosophy of Socrates. Specifically I will discuss Socratic irony and the Socratic method of inquiry. The main points I will cover are; what was Socratic irony, and why did he use the method he did to seek the truth? My paper consists of three main parts. First a description of the more important books by Plato, about Socrates; sines Plato is the main source for information about Socrates. The second part is an analysis of the texts, focusing on the above stated topics. The last part is a conclusion and further questions brought up by my research. So what is Socrates philosophy?
The Euthyphro is an early and to some, a controversial dialogue recounted by Plato. It swiftly discusses a question in ethics, consisting of a conversation between Socrates and Euthyphro, who claims expertise in a certain field of ethics. The conference ends abruptly, and inconclusively but is riddled with Socratic irony. Socrates assumes the role of a curious student hoping to learn from a pious expert, when in fact he shows Euthyphro to be crass, knowing nothing about holiness. Perhaps the most intriguing attitude of the dialogue is that it ends in an unresolved manner. Such inconclusiveness is not unique to the Euthyphro, but it is worth inspecting nonetheless. With such a hasty end to a burgeoning conversation, Plato may be suggesting that no definition of holiness can be found, that piety may be a point of view, so to speak. Of course, it must be said that Socrates would vigorously oppose such an idea. We as readers, may associate the incomplete dialogue to the dialogue form itself and the irony that Socrates uses. Teaching is not a basic interrogation, nor is learning as simple as giving a correct answer. Yet, rather the teacher-student exchange depends on leading the student to the right answers, while confirming that the student can interpret and explain those ideas, instead of just memorize them. The form of dialogue in the Euthyphro is ideal for this kind exchange as it shows Socrates leading Euthyphro through his own reasoning, and thereby letting Euthyphro sort things out for himself. Socratic irony is present because Socrates is conversing with Euthyphro as if he were a student when, paradoxically, Socrates is teaching Euthyphro. This situation is important in order to encourage Euthyphro to show and analyze his stances, and thus, to lead him to see their faults for himself. However, it may be said that Euthyphro is not reasoning correctly at all. The idea that Euthyphro holds equates what is holy with what is approved of by the Gods. Arguing skillfully, Socrates illustrates that this idea is insufficient- what is holy may be approved by Gods, yet, the two cannot be congruous. If the Gods approve of something because its essence is holy, then such approval cannot be responsible for such a thing being holy. Also, if something is indeed holy because of the Gods approval, we, as mortals, don't know why the Gods approve of it. It may be that any attempt to assert our definition of holiness in the will or approval of the Gods is destined to fail. One may normally associate holiness with some form of divine will but Socrates suggests that we might think along another line completely. Rather, Socrates maybe suggesting to learn the virtue of piety itself, demonstrating a kind of pious wisdom.
The Apology is the account of Socrates speech to the Athenian judges at his trial. He is accused of corrupting the youth and not praying to the gods of the state. This speech is not an apology, but rather a speech like his arguments that pointed out the flaws in the thinking of his accusers. Socrates began his journey to find truth in definition after the Oracle of Delhi told Socrates that he was the wisest of all men. However Socrates wisdom stems from his acknowledgment of his ignorance. He made it his life goal to find another someone wiser then he. Socrates method of inquiry made him...
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