philosophy: sophists, socrates, plato

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  • 8/2/2019 philosophy: Sophists, Socrates, Plato


    The Sophists

    The professional teachers providing instruction and guidance fir success in practical affairs

    They specialized in using the tools of philosophy and Rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete

    (excellence, or virtue)

    Rhetoric is the art and study of the use of language with persuasive effect

    The sophists shifted the concerns of philosophy to the study of human cognition

    The real world is quite different from the phenomenal world

    The Sophists took for the standard the opinions of the individual

    Absolute knowledge is impossible

    All understanding is subjective

    Truth is no more than opinion

    Any opinion can be judged only by its practical utility


    "Man is the measure of all things, of those which are that they are and of those which are not that they are


    For man the world is what it appear to him to be, not something else

    There are 2 criteria for truth

    The opinion of the individual

    The practical utility of knowledgeKnowledge is subjective

    Moral judgments are relative

    Everything is true

    The true aim of human thought is to serve human needs

  • 8/2/2019 philosophy: Sophists, Socrates, Plato


    Socratesa classical Greek philosopher one of the founders of Western philosophy

    The Apology ("defense-speech)

    It is Plato's account of Socrates' defense at his trial

    Socrates wrote nothing because he felt that knowledge was a living, interactive thing

    Xenophon, Plato and others wrote Socratic dialogues portraying his teaching in literary form

    Socrates was the first philosopher to shift the focus away from the natural world to human values

    Socrates was interested in the practical use of reason

    Socrates tried to find the basis for stable and certain knowledge

    The way to attain reliable knowledge is based on the practice ofconversation

    Dialectic method of inquiry or the Socratic method

    It is a negative method of truth-seeking, in that truth is found by steadily identifying and eliminating that

    which is not true

    Socrates' method of philosophical inquiry consisted in questioning people on the positions they asserted and

    working them through questions into a contradiction, thus proving to them that their original assertion was


    Socrates himself never takes a position

    This method of questioning is elenchus or "cross-examination"

    The Socratic elenchus gave rise to dialecticIt is the idea that truth needs to be pursued by modifying one's position through questioning and conflict

    with opposing ideas

    It was designed to force one to examine one's own beliefs and the validity of such beliefs

    Socrates showed the value of self-knowledge

    The highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others

    The instrument of clear thought is a definition

    Only true knowledge is knowledge of concepts

    What it is that makes men say that a certain thing or action is good or beautiful?

    What people are looking at when they make such statements?

    It is the Eidos, or the Idea

    that a person has before him when he calls something "good or beautiful.There is something into things that never varied and never passed away

    It is Idea of something (EIDOS)

    Socrates did not separate Ideas from things

    By the process of definition the mind can distinguish between two objects of thought

    The particular The general (the Idea of something)Socrates distinguished two levels of knowledge

    One is based upon the inspection of facts The other is based on interpretation of factsTeleology is a view that things have a function or purpose

    Plato regarded Socrates as the father ofethics or moral philosophy,and hence philosophy in general

    Knowledge is virtue

    The best life comes from taking the best care to make oneself as good as possible, and the happiest people

    are those who are most conscious they are getting better

    All of the virtues must be cultivated together

    human wisdom begins with the recognition of one's own ignorance the unexamined life is not worth living ethical virtue is the only thing that matters a good person can never be harmed, because whatever misfortune he may suffer, his virtue willremain intact

  • 8/2/2019 philosophy: Sophists, Socrates, Plato



    In about 387 Plato founded the Academy as an institute for the systematic pursuit of philosophical and

    scientific teaching and research

    Philosophical education consists of intellectual activity including mathematics astronomy geometry music

    The 1st

    group of dialogues (Socratic dialogues) includes the problems ofEthics

    The 2nd

    group of dialogues includes the theory of knowledge

    Plato brought together all the major concerns of human thought into a whole and clear organization of


    Myth of the cave in the 7th

    book of Politeia: He who sees with his eyes is blind

    Reality is unavailable to those who use their senses

    What is the really real? What is knowable and what is real? What is the nature of ultimate reality and how

    we come to know it?

    Plato tried to discover the ultimate constituents of reality and the grounds for our knowledge of them

    Sensescant be trusted. What we experience through senses is illusion

    The real things if they exist must be: unchangeable, not be accessible to the senses

    The really existing things of the world are not of this world but of someplace else

    There are 2 worlds: the intelligible world of Ideas and the visible world of things

    The world as it seems to us is not the real world, but only an image or copy of the real worldA world of Ideas (a world beyond that of the senses) All of the things that men perceive with their senses

    appear to be but very imperfect copies of the eternal Ideas

    The Forms are eternal, unchangeable patterns, of which the particular objects of sense are imperfect copies

    Forms are related to particulars in that a particular is regarded as a copy of its form

    A particular apple is a copy of the form ofApplehood. The apple's redness is an instance of the form ofRedness

    Participation is another relationship between forms and particulars

    Platonic Epistemology

    Men, in construing a system of knowledge, constantly prefer what is more perfect to what is less perfect

    Four states of mind

    Imagining is the sense experience of appearances wherein these appearances are taken as true realityBeliefis induced by the seeing of actual object

    Imagining and Belief are only opinions

    Thinking represents the power of mind to abstract from the visible world

    When a person moves from believing to thinking, he moves from the visible world to the intelligible world,

    from the realm of opinion to the realm of knowledge

    Knowledge is the apprehension of unchanging Forms and their relationships to one another

    The knowledge must be present in an eternal, non-experiential form

    The Platonic doctrine of recollection or anamnesis

    Souls are born with the concepts of the Forms

    The soul once lived in "Reality It once knew everything, but forgot it

    Knowledge is acquired by Recollection/ The goal of Recollection is to get back to true knowledgeKnowledge is innate.

    It is a matter of recollection, but not of learning, observation, or study

    "Plato believed that ideas were far more real than the natural world.

    He advised the astronomers not to waste their time observing the stars and planets. It was better, he believed,

    just to think about them (Carl Sagan)