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Gadfly philosophy-refutation as a (dangerous) way of life.

March 24, 2016 | Author: | Posted in philosophy, social sciences

The Good Life , the Unexamined Life , and the City

Socrates is a historical figure . His trial is a historical event Socrates is often characterized as one of the greatest teachers the world has seen . Socrates himself wrote no books , and we are dependent mainly upon the widely diverging s of Aristophanes , Xenophon and above all Plato for our knowledge of his beliefs and also for our understanding of his romising adherence to the philosophic life In Plato ‘s Apology Socrates presents himself in as someone who questions others about virtue and who [banner_entry_middle]

examines or refutes them by means of an elenchus when they have answered inadequately . Plato ‘s picture of Socrates is also in some measure his own creation , but it is possible to identify from it some features genuinely those of Socrates : his concern with the difference between true knowledge and opinion which may merely happen to be correct his search for definitions (What is courage ? What is justice ) without which true knowledge is unattainable , in the belief that there are such things as courage and virtue his particular method of inquiry by question and answer in to reach these definitions the question of whether ‘goodness (aret ‘virtue ‘excellence of character ) can be taught , as the sophists said it could the feeling that goodness is connected with knowledge of the good , and that once one has that knowledge one cannot deliberately act badly ‘no one errs deliberately . And all this intellectual examination was aimed , as Socrates insisted , at the practical end of achieving happiness in this life by right living ‘the unexamined life is not worth living

Socrates has devoted his life – at least since he received the oracle about his wisdom – to this mission ‘ and to leading what he calls the examined life ‘ This aspect of Socrates ‘ of his mission has received virtually no attention in scholarly accounts of the elenchos . Other commentators typically see only that Socrates employs the elenchos on propositions , demonstrating the incompatibility of his interlocutors ‘ beliefs , and (on some accounts ) showing others to be more justified . But Socrates does not say that he examines what people say or even what they believe he says he examines people , and by this he means examining the ways in which they live . Socrates does not say that untested propositions are not worth believing or that unexamined beliefs are not worth holding he says that the unexamined life is not worth living (Ap . 38a5-6 . Of course , he examines lives by getting his interlocutors to express the values according to which they live in propositions that may then be examined . But as he tells , Socrates is interested , not merely in the truth or falsehood of these propositions but rather in the lives whose values these propositions characterize

It is clear from the Apology that the improvement of people , the end of good action , can be achieved only (or at least in the main ) through the therapeutic effects of philosophical interchange (38a1-8 , in which Socrates views himself to… [banner_entry_footer]

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