What is Socrates’ philosophy? What makes him so unique and intriguing? Let’s look at Socrates’ philosophy from various perspectives. First, he’s a philosopher-critic. Secondly, he’s a non-constructivist, rejecting knowledge as an end in itself. Thirdly, he’s an enquirer. These two characteristics combine to make Socrates’ philosophy unique and fascinating.
Socrates is a philosopher-critic
Socrates was born in Alopece, Athens and died there. In his lifetime, he made a name for himself as a philosopher-critic and sculptor. During his youth, he studied music, gymnastics, and grammar. His father was a sculptor, and his statue, Socrates Graces, remained an attraction until the second century CE. Socrates also served with distinction in the army, and his skepticism and critical thinking proved his worth in preserving Athenian society.
Socrates’ life was not easy, however. His plight was not easy, and he had to endure many hardships to survive. His lack of resources forced him to live in poverty, and he wore ragged clothes. He was usually fed by the goodwill of the townspeople. He frequently refuted his own opinions and asked others to refute him. In fact, his greatest virtue was that he claimed to know nothing and sought to understand more.
Socrates’ method of questioning is famous. He referred to this method as the elenchus method. Socrates, who calls himself a midwife, proceeds by a dialectical process, in which he uses questioning and reasoning to reach first principles. Rather than articulating propositions about piety, Socrates asks questions about its relation to other things.
He is a non-constructivist
Socrates is often depicted as a caricature of the new ideas that arose in Athens during the fifth century B.E. During the time of Socrates, these new ideas were threatening to Athens’ traditional morality and the place of the divine in the world. Nevertheless, Socrates remained a non-constructivist in his philosophy, avoiding the use of rhetoric to persuade people to believe what he wanted them to believe.
The non-constructivist view claims that Socrates does not think that the elenchus has the ability to establish individual truths. While elenchus can show inconsistencies between premises, he cannot establish the truth of W, X, Y, and Z. In other words, Socrates argues that elenchus can only show inconsistency.
The philosophical tradition has traditionally viewed knowledge as unalterable. In fact, Plato’s ‘what is it’ question is also a commonsense question. Socrates does not care that people learn false knowledge. However, he did acknowledge the possibility of such knowledge. Ultimately, he does not view false knowledge as a reason for not philosophizing. The logical fallacy behind this line of thought is that people are unable to learn anything unless they are made aware of it.
Socrates is a non-constructor. He doesn’t believe that piety is a separate thing. Instead, he argues that we should view piety as an object and not a category. By asking questions about the way piety affects other things, we preserve the sameness of piety. The same is true for piety: there is no articulation of piety, but its disclosure is revealed through the process of silent interrogation.
He rejects knowledge
The Socratic philosopher Socrates rejected the idea that one can acquire knowledge by studying books. His belief was that good and bad are ‘one and the same’. This meant that one could learn about good and bad only if he possessed knowledge. The only exception to this rule was when one possessed a knowledge of the nature of God. The Socratic philosopher Socrates was a member of the Aristotle school.
As the father of modern philosophy, Socrates’ interest in the limits of human knowledge was evident even in his later life. He balked at the Oracle’s statement that he was the wisest man in Athens because he was aware of his ignorance. During the early part of his life, he avoided political involvement and kept his distance from political life, though he sat in the assembly of the city of Athens in 406 B.C., an early form of Greek democracy.
In 145d, Socrates asks the question, “What is knowledge?” and theaetetus answers with examples of what it is. Socrates rejects the Theaetetus’ response and argues that “examples are not necessary nor sufficient to define knowledge.” Theaetetus is not able to make a definition without examples, and the discussion of examples amounts to nothing more than a diversion.
He is an enquirer
The Socratic method is an approach to questioning that employs a series of questions around a central issue, a practice known as Socratic debate. In Socratic debate, the best way to win is to make your opponent contradict themselves. Among its other uses, this method can be used to examine the general characteristics of various instances, such as the nature of reality. Socrates is an enquirer that can also be useful when seeking a deeper understanding of a particular topic.
Socrates’ quiet behavior was first recorded in Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, where he is described as an enquirer and has a concubine, Xanthippe. Although the story originated with Chaucer, most ancient sources attribute the story to Aristotle. While Plato does not mention Xanthippe’s role in the story, it is likely that the two were married at different times.
Socrates’ inquiries are all concerned with defining what is “good” and what is “bad”. These questions are often rooted in fundamental values, such as goodness. Socrates never answers questions directly, instead confronting them with criticisms. His approach is in keeping with his denial of wisdom and expertise, because it involves the critical examination of the interlocutor’s beliefs. It is this method that distinguishes Socrates from his contemporaries.
He is a philosopher-critic
The philosophy of Socrates is one of the foundational texts of western philosophy. As a philosopher-critic, he imparted philosophical problems to artists. While he may not have understood the modern meaning of art, his work was entwined with ancient poetry and Attic tragedy. A philosopher-critic, Socrates was a keen observer of ancient Athenian art, a role he would play in its creation and execution.
Socrates’ philosophy of art was heavily influenced by Euripidean drama, and his criticism of the poet’s works was based on the poetics of the Greeks. Socrates’ criticism of poetry, which was traditionally recited to a private audience, was a response to the poet’s status as a teacher of truth. He would compare the poet to a god, saying that “he channels the heavenly thoughts” and “the Muses” are the source of his inspiration.
Socrates is also known for declaring his total ignorance. He often said, “I know nothing.” In a manner of speaking, he meant to imply that the realization of our ignorance is the first step to philosophizing. Socrates’ philosophy is a reflection of the way we live in the world. Socrates’ philosophy aims to answer basic questions in life, such as what is right and wrong.
He is a philosopher
Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates, is also described as a devoted mother. This might explain the fact that Socrates is often accused of being a deadbeat husband. The truth is, however, that he is neither dead nor unmarried. Rather, he may have had to contend with his wife’s nagging and annoying ways. It is also possible that Socrates never had a full-time job and had to rely on his wife’s family for money. Socrates’ actions would have upset many people, including Xanthippe. Socrates was eventually condemned to death.
Armstrong defends his view that ‘Socrates is a philosopher’ is a truthmaker, even if it is contingent. In other words, ‘Socrates is a philosopher’ is contingent on something else, not Socrates. Hence, Socrates is not a philosopher by definition. He is a philosopher because he was an exceptional individual who possessed unique and valuable philosophical skills.
In the case of the entailment principle, there are some cases in which the truthmaker of a proposition is trivial. Thus, ‘Socrates is a philosopher’ is not a true truthmaker of ‘2 + 2 = 4’. However, truthmaker theorists avoid these cases by limiting the use of the entailment principle by offering alternative interpretations of the truthmaker.