Socrates Views on Virtue and Happiness

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Socrates Views on Virtue and Happiness

By | November 2007
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There are certain truths of the world that cannot be ignored or overlooked. Many philosophers have spent countless years discussing, debating and evaluating such truths. One such influential philosopher is Socrates. Born in Athens in 469 B.C.E, he spent most of his time at the marketplace and other public places engaging in dialogues about truths of life. Among many other things, he discussed virtue and happiness and how closely they are related. According to Socrates, virtue is absolutely necessary for perfect happiness because virtue brings a type of happiness that other things could never bring. In this paper, I will explain the aforementioned idea of Socrates on virtue and happiness and through evidence from Plato's Apology which is one of the few written records of Socrates' views.

Firstly, Socrates gives his definition of happiness before he discusses virtue and its relation with happiness. He seems to hold a unique definition of happiness states that the usual definition of happiness just makes one think that they are happy; however, the real happiness consists of something much deeper. He says, "The Olympian victor makes you think yourself happy; I make you be happy" (Apology 36e-37a). The constant questioning he practices, according to Socrates himself, is in effect helping the Athenians be happy because it is helping them move along the scale of wisdom. His further dialogue clearly explains that true happiness goes beyond worldly goods and external wealth. He says, "Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men" (30b). In other words, one is not able to buy perfect happiness. So, one might ask what else is needed to achieve perfect happiness if it can't be achieved by wealth and external comforts alone? The answer, according to Socrates, is virtue.

Being virtuous means doing and being good as much as one possibly can and according to Socrates, this is the most precious quality one can have....

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