Providing Answers for Questions
Questions for Answers
Professor: Dr. Lightbody
TA: David Corman
Word Count: 1941
The Apology written by Plato’s is an excellent piece of philosophical literature that can teach us many things. Most importantly this fine literature gives us the utmost insight into the philosophy of Socrates’. As well it teaches us the idea of asking questions and probing for answers when we don’t understand so we can uncover the truth and learn rather than thinking we know and being ignorant. The intention here is to describe the philosophy of Socrates’ and use what I’ve learned from his ideas to present my own beliefs on what philosophy is and relate it to my personal life. The start of the essay will be devoted to deciphering the ethics and ideals of Socrates’ philosophy and describing the three key components being Socratic method, irony and ethos as well as how they are engrained with Socrates’ belief that, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” During the second portion of the essay I will discuss my belief that philosophy is the process of consistently asking questions to gain understanding and insight to life’s mysteries and challenges. Similar to Rauhut I would describe philosophy as open questions but I would conclude that definition to be incomplete. Philosophy needs constant discussion and revision, yes it does begin with a simple belief or question but the whole purpose is discussion and explanation to gain further comprehension and understanding of the subject in question.
In Plato’s The Apology Socrates’ uses the Socratic method as a way to prove his innocence and show the misconceptions of others. The Socratic method is a process of debate between individuals with contradictory beliefs. The debate is used to promote critical thinking and cause the individuals to consistently prove their hypothesis. In attempts to prove their beliefs they are in turn constantly trying to disprove and eliminate the ideas of anyone opposing them. To defend your opinion, questioning can be used to cause deep thought by the opposition about their beliefs and force them to provide supporting evidence to verify their perspective. Socrates’ constantly uses this technique by forcing people to explain what they think they know and by asking the right questions he is able to show the flaws in their ideas. These questions can lead a defendant to contradict himself therefore strengthening the ideas of the opposition. “And yet, I know that my plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but proof that I am speaking the truth?” (Plato, 24a-24b). This method creates a much greater chance for a successful and applicable hypothesis and analyzes and dissects ideas to see how they fit or contradict with other beliefs.
Socratic Irony is a tool used in the Socratic method in attempts to get the opposition to expose their deficiency of understanding or an error in their rationality. The process uses very specific questions in which the person who is questioning pretends that they lack knowledge on something that they actually know. This is displayed when Socrates’ questions Meletus and causes Meletus to bring up facts which contradict his accusations against Socrates’, “… if a man with whom I have to live is corrupted by me, I am very likely to be harmed by him; and yet I corrupt him, and intentionally, too – so you say,” (Plato, 25e-26a). With this technique the person asking the question knows the answer all along and therefore when the opposition supplies an answer that is incorrect or flawed they are able to clearly illustrate the mistake that is made thus proving their point without any doubt or contradiction. “But either I do not corrupt them, or I corrupt them unintentionally; and on either view of the case you lie.” (Plato, 25e-26a). This process is very effective due to the sole...