Socrates and Ignorance

May 8, 2012

The Western philosophical tradition is deeply indebted to Socrates. The question “how to live?” has rightly been called “the Socratic question”. The method of Socrates, which consits questioning his interlocutors, has often been regarded as a paradigmatic form of philosophical inquiry, and his own life as an embodiment of the philosophical life.

But all agree often find the intellectualism of Socrates disappointing. Complaints against Socratic intellectualism are numerous. Indeed, Socrates ignores or neglects, or at least greatly underestimates the importance of emotional desire, the desire in the heart of human nature, being too concerned about the intellect.

Socrates and Evil: Ignorance and Knowledge

In the Protagoras, Plato, Socrates expresses intellectualism that characterizes (352 c). Here is an excerpt in which Socrates defends the good derived from a knowledge of the idea of ​​the Good:

For me, I’m pretty sure that, among philosophers, there is not one who thinks that a man sins willfully and voluntarily make shameful and evil actions, they all know the contrary, that all who actions are shameful and wrong to do so involuntarily, and Simonides does not say he rented the man who deliberately does not commit evil but to himself he brings the word deliberately, because he thought that a good man will often force a witness to others of friendship and esteem. For example, we may suffer from strange processes from a mother, a father of his country, other people that affect us too closely. In this case, the bad guys look the malignancy of their parents or from their homeland with a sort of joy, spread it with malice or make complaints, to take shelter reproaches and outrages that deserve their negligence, they come in and to exaggerate their subjects of complaint, and grow to hate their enmity forced volunteers. The people of the contrary throw a veil over the wrongs of their own and force them to speak well, and if the injustice of their parents or homeland arouses in them a fit of rage, they calm down themselves and reconcile with them, forcing himself to love and to speak well.”

More than once may Simonides realized he had himself praised the eulogy or a tyrant, or some other similar character, not willingly, but by compulsion. Here is the language he wishes to Pittacos: For me, Pittacus, if I critique, it’s not that I like the chicane, for it is enough that a man is not bad, not too loose, he knows justice, save states, and it makes sense. For such a man, I shall not blame, because I do not like to blame; race of fools is in fact endless so that if one takes pleasure in return, we find to criticize in full. ”

Socrates defends the following points in this excerpt from the Protagoras:

  • No one desires evil
  • Nobody is wrong intentionally or knowingly
  • Virtue is knowledge
  • Virtue is sufficient for happiness.

According to him, the moral fault from a fault intellectual. Therefore forgive their sins ignorant rather than condemn them. However, it is the philosopher who has knowledge (through the contemplation of ideas)

Socrates & Kant: Moral Universalism vs. Intellectualism

Kant oppose this intellectualism moral common sense enough to act morally. In the Foundation of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant argues that the good will is sufficient to guide the path of morality:

“The highest virtue is to be accessible to the most ignorant as well as most learned and, when pursued, it tends to be under the agreement of wills, a kingdom of ends, a republic of the people, whose value is incomparably superior to the greatest perfection of natural individuals best opportunities; the equal status of all men before the law and the moral equal aptitude for all to practice law are related to each of be treated according to his dignity as a person, the sovereign right to establish in each of the moral order and much better than in the social legislation which he obeyed the good will, is the realization of the autonomous will ”

Thus, Kant’s philosophy is ethics (it is formal and applies to all), while the morality of Socrates is intellectualist (it depends on the outcome and remains dedicated to the wise)

The Western philosophical tradition is deeply indebted to Socrates. The question “how to live?” Has rightly been called “the Socratic question.” The method of Socrates, which consits questioning his interlocutors, has often been regarded as a paradigmatic form of philosophical inquiry, and his own life as an embodiment of the philosophical life.

But all agree often find the intellectualism of Socrates disappointing. Complaints against Socratic intellectualism are numerous. Indeed, Socrates ignores or neglects, or at least greatly underestimates the importance of emotional desire, the desire in the heart of human nature, being too concerned about the intellect.

Socrates and Evil: Ignorance and Knowledge

In the Protagoras, Plato, Socrates expresses intellectualism that characterizes (352 c). Here is an excerpt in which Socrates defends the good derived from a knowledge of the idea of ​​the Good:

“For me, I’m pretty sure that, among philosophers, there is not one who thinks that a man sins willfully and voluntarily make shameful and evil actions, they all know the contrary, that all who actions are shameful and wrong to do so involuntarily, and Simonides does not say he rented the man who deliberately does not commit evil but to himself he brings the word deliberately, because he thought that a good man will often force a witness to others of friendship and esteem. For example, we may suffer from strange processes from a mother, a father of his country, other people that affect us too closely. In this case, the bad guys look the malignancy of their parents or from their homeland with a sort of joy, spread it with malice or make complaints, to take shelter reproaches and outrages that deserve their negligence, they come in and to exaggerate their subjects of complaint, and grow to hate their enmity forced volunteers. The people of the contrary throw a veil over the wrongs of their own and force them to speak well, and if the injustice of their parents or homeland arouses in them a fit of rage, they calm down themselves and reconcile with them, forcing himself to love and to speak well.

More than once may Simonides realized he had himself praised the eulogy or a tyrant, or some other similar character, not willingly, but by compulsion. Here is the language he wishes to Pittacos: For me, Pittacus, if I critique, it’s not that I like the chicane, for it is enough that a man is not bad, not too loose, he knows justice, save states, and it makes sense. For such a man, I shall not blame, because I do not like to blame; race of fools is in fact endless so that if one takes pleasure in return, we find to criticize in full.

Socrates defends the following points in this excerpt from the Protagoras:

  • No one desires evil
  • Nobody is wrong intentionally or knowingly
  • Virtue is knowledge
  • Virtue is sufficient for happiness.

According to him, the moral fault from a fault intellectual. Therefore forgive their sins ignorant rather than condemn them. However, it is the philosopher who has knowledge (through the contemplation of ideas)

Socrates & Kant: Moral Universalism vs. Intellectualism

Kant oppose this intellectualism moral common sense enough to act morally. In the Foundation of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant argues that the good will is sufficient to guide the path of morality:

“The highest virtue is to be accessible to the most ignorant as well as most learned and, when pursued, it tends to be under the agreement of wills, a kingdom of ends, a republic of the people, whose value is incomparably superior to the greatest perfection of natural individuals best opportunities; the equal status of all men before the law and the moral equal aptitude for all to practice law are related to each of be treated according to his dignity as a person, the sovereign right to establish in each of the moral order and much better than in the social legislation which he obeyed the good will, is the realization of the autonomous will “

Thus, Kant’s philosophy is ethics (it is formal and applies to all), while the morality of Socrates is intellectualist (it depends on the outcome and remains dedicated to the wise man)