The Greatness of Socrates

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  • Topic: Euthyphro, Plato, Logic
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  • Published : November 3, 2012
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The Greatness of Socrates
Socrates was born in Athens, Greece 322-399 before the Christian era and was politically indoctrinated under the cultural influences of Athena, Goddess of wisdom, skills, and warfare. (Loomis p. 5) He is well known for his philosophy of the “good life” in which he believes involves the pursuit of intellect as well as morals. His theory in this is to not focus so much on choosing what is always necessarily right in a situation, but to be the kind of individual who refrains from allowing the wrong choice to be an option all together meaning that ultimately there will be no right or wrong because naturally your mind will be in a state that is always right. Socrates promoted that, “knowledge and understanding of life and its values was the very basis of the good life and philosophy.” He is also known for teaching forms of rhetoric, which the subject itself makes the statement true in that form of rhetoric argument. He used this type of teaching to educate the youth by having them go beyond the obvious appearances and made them explore what they already knew in their own reality. In other words, he didn’t need lesson plans to follow or text books to educate these children. Instead, he made them explore deeper into what they already knew by asking them questions that they could easily answer themselves. Aside from using this tactic to teach, he used it in almost every conversation he was part of. Anyone who held a conversation with him would be bombarded with a series of questions he would mentally conjure up in search of the truth out of any dialect he encountered. He had a distinct way with his words that almost forced others to tell the truth whether they were aware of it or not. He describes this as, “the destructive cross-examination designed to cleanse conversations of lies.” (Jowett, Apology p. 52)

Traveling teachers called Sophist rhetoric, the art of public speaking, used words as a powerful weapon that stealthily influenced culturally, which deceptively covert negative intentions. (Loomis pp. 4-5) Socrates deductive reasoning statements force the truth, unveiling the deceit secretly hidden in the manipulative words of Sophist, traveling teachers “professed to put men on the road to success” religiously. (Loomis pp.4-5) Socrates reason, “Athenians are not concerned about being laughed at, for wisdom is welcome, as long as man does not teach his wisdom, influencing others away from their culture to be like himself infuriates Athenians, whether through envy or some other reason.”

Socrates dialogue with Euthyphro, a Sophist traveling male priest teacher, is a good example of Socrates destructive cross-examination of a companion, designed to purge conversation of fallacies. (Jowett, Apology p. 52) Euthyphro, the priest, is conducting legal business prosecuting his father for the murder of a laborer who himself is a murderer, and encounters Socrates at a time Socrates was being charged for a crime indicted by Meletus for corrupting the young and for not believing in the gods in whom the city believes. (Applebaum, Weller Euthyphro pp. 1-2) (Jowett, Apology p. 43)

During this era, the god worshipped was Zeus, a deified man believed by the people in that era to be the “best and most just of the gods, yet they agree that he bound his father because he unjustly swallowed his sons, and that he in turn castrated his father for similar reasons.” (Applebaum, Weller Euthyphro p. 5) Socrates feels he is a defendant, because he “find it hard to accept things like that being said about the gods, and it is likely to be the reason why I shall be told I do wrong.” However, Euthyphro feel he is doing what god did by prosecuting his father for his wrongdoing, but his “family and friends believe this course of action to be impious." (Applebaum, Weller Euthyphro pp. 3-4) Euthyphro argues “they contradict themselves in what they say about the gods” and about Euthyphro “superior to the majority of me”...
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