Socrates was a Greek Philosopher who is considered to be among the pioneers of the Western philosophy. His ideas are known through the works of later classical philosophers such as Plato, Aristophanes, Aristotle, and Xenophon. Through his fame in Plato’s works, Socrates has become famous for his role in the development of ethics. Since Socrates did not publish his work, historians have had a tough time in reconciling the different texts that come from various philosophers in order to create an accurate and consistent account of his work and life. This paper will discuss Socrates’ view on subjects such as gods, systematic thinking, and truth.
Socrates’ View on Gods
Socrates did not recognize the belief of god as upheld by other philosophers, though this does not mean that he was a non-believer. He appears to believe in a multiple of gods, though he does hint a concept of unified God, who has an unwavering opinion on bad and good things. His idea of god shares a lot with that of Christianity. For instance, the belief that gods are inherently good and that they motivate people through goodness rather than punishment is similar to the Christian thinking (Plato n.p).
Socrates was a devoted religious person as depicted in his reference to the mystical voice that always warned him not to indulge in certain things. This voice he often regarded to as a divine voice that he always obeyed. Further, Socrates believed that there was a divine purpose in the creation of the world and this purpose was attributed towards the moral and spiritual growth of human beings. In his discussion with Euthyphro on piety concerning justice, Socrates denounces Euthyphro’s idea of service to the gods and to the people. First, Socrates does not acknowledge that service to a divine being should be separate or different from that towards fellow men. He upholds that the only true way to serve God is by upholding the actions that promote spiritual and moral being health of human beings (Hardwig 266).
Secondly, Socrates regarded the principle and function of religion as something diverse from Euthyphro’s view. Unlike Euthyphro, who understood religion as a tool for reaching one’s goals, Socrates believed the primary purpose of religion was to bring a person’s life into consistency with the will of God. According to Socrates, morality and religion were so closely related, such that none of them would exist without the other (Hardwig 267).
Logic or Systematic Thinking
Socrates established the idea that one cannot rely on those in authority for sound knowledge and insight. He demonstrated that people may have power, be in high positions, yet they remain confused and irrational on obvious issues. Thus, he established the value of analyzing deep questions that trigger intense thinking before accepting ideas as worth to pursue. According to Socrates, systematic thinking entails seeking evidence, vividly examining the reasons and assumptions, analyzing core concepts and tracing the implications of both what is said and what is done. This method of questioning in the philosophical world is commonly known as logic or systematic thinking teaching strategy. This mode highlights the need for thinking in a clear and logical manner (Pagliaro 91).
Socratic theory of systematic thinking was similar to that of Plato and Aristotle in which they stressed that things are often different from how they seem to be, and only the trained minds are ready to go beyond delusive appearances to discern their deeper realities. Inspired by the Greek traditional way of thinking, Socrates encouraged people to understand the deeper realities, think logically, and trace the implications deeply and broadly to understand the truth behind the visible reality (Paul 69).
Socrates arrived at the concept of moral truth through a conversational method commonly referred to as dialectics. In other words, he often asked questions from his partner in whom every response would result into another question and very often, the partner would be meant to believe that he knew not the answer to the first question. The respondent merely assumed that he knew the answer or just took the conventional point of view of the issue. Socrates invented this mode of dialect that is often called Socratic Method (Vogt 25).
One of the reasons as to why the Athens hated Socrates was his behavior of asking a series of questions, which would reveal their ignorance. He ascertained that knowing what is good and bad would lead people into doing right and wrong things respectively. Therefore, any act that is not good reveals a person’s confusion on such matters, which in other words can be known as ignorance.
For the purpose of truthfulness and self-development, Socrates established the dialectical method of establishing the truth to the Athenians. Though Socrates did not know the answers to all questions, he often consoled himself that no one else knew that hence unknown issues were open to debate. Thus, according to Socrates, moral truth is not, concrete concept rather a personal judgment according to the realities of right, and wrong (Vogt 27).
Though Socrates is a famous philosopher who is acknowledged due to his contribution to the Western philosophy, there is no literature to his teachings. Many of these can be traced from the works of later philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Xenophon. Socrates’ views on popular subjects such as gods, logical thinking, and truth have been discussed in this paper. Socrates had mixed views on the subject of gods as in some circumstances; he would support the existence of multiple gods, while in another he would acknowledge the existence of one divine being. With reference to systematic thinking, Socrates believed in a consistent analysis of issues in order to understand the underlying truth other than relying on the superficial and rather observable knowledge. Moreover, Socrates is acknowledged for his teachings on moral truth. He believed that people did the right things because they knew the truth and the contrary are true to wrong actions.
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Paul, Richard & Elder, Linda. The Thinker’s Guide to the Art of Socratic Questioning, 2006.
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Pagliaro, Marie M. Exemplary Classroom Questioning: Practices to Promote Thinking and
Learning. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2011. Print.
Plato. Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo: Summary and Analysis. (n.d). Web source.
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Vogt, Maria. Belief and Truth: A Skeptic Reading of Plato, (n.d). Web source.
http://katjavogt.com/pdf/katja_vogt_belief_truth_intro.pdf. Retrieved on 22nd January 2014.