Socrates' Definition of Success

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Ryan Barnes
What is Success

My aim of this paper is to illustrate Socrates’ criteria of a good definition by trying to define what “success” is. I will start by explaining Socrates’ three criteria requirements of a good definition. First a good definition must define all and only cases, so that it covers the general ideas but also the exceptions to these cases. Secondly a good definition must be clear so there is no misinterpretation and easy to understand. Lastly a good definition should be explanatory, it should be state if and what its requirements and explain why they need to be present. Now knowing what makes a good definition I will construct three separate definitions that will fail one of Socrates’ three criteria.

I will start by giving you an example that fails Socrates’ first criteria of all and only cases. Success is achieving fame and honor. This fails the requirements of a good definition because it fails to cover only cases. It fails to include times when people are successful but fail to receive fame or honor or even both. Many women and men become volunteer firefighters, paramedics, and other rescue personnel to help others. They put their lives in danger to help others which is an honorable thing to do, but many of these men and women never receive any recognition. You can also obtain fame in many ways including dishonorable ways. Take professional athletes who use performance enhancing drugs as an example. They choose to use illegal ways to gain success in their craft and in many cases are rewarded because of their skills that they possess. However, they know performance enhancers are not allowed and would be penalized for using them if they were ever caught. Their desire to achieve success to avoid appearing incompetent and to avoid receiving negative evaluations from others forces them to achieve it in dishonorable ways. The definition I have given as an example fails to include cases when people gain success...
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