Part 1: Socrates Worldview
This paper is going to state socrates worldview on four fundamental questions throughout the paper. The fundamental questions will be answered in Socrates opinion of these questions. They will be answered in best way possible of what he would have might thought about the questions. There will be experts from The Last Day of Socrates by Plato, Socrates by George Rudebusch and from lecture powerpoints. At the end of the paper there will be critique of one Socrates explanation or thought of one of the fundamental questions.
How can we define purpose the purpose of life? According to the lecture slides for fundamental questions, the fundamental question of purpose states “What is the purpose of life and what brings life meaning?” (lecture powerpoint). Socrates has a strong view on how sees the purpose of life. One of his big view on purpose starts with God.
Socrates states this “ This duty I have accepted, as I said in obedience to God’s, command given in oracles and dreams and in everyway that any other divine dispensations has ever impressed a duty upon man” (Apology 33c). His beliefs is that he has a duty to God to as there are commands in the oracles to proceed with his duty. Not only does he state this about God giving duties among men but he also says “let us follow this course, since God leads the way” (Crito 54e). With these two quotes from Socrates, Socrates believes that God gave him a purpose to live and follow God’s way. He believes that God put him on Earth to service God and follow his path. Socrates has a hard belief for the reason he was living. Another theme of socrates belief of purpose is live honourably and justly. Socrates compares living to “well amounts to the same thing” to “live honourably and justly” (Crito 48b).
He is saying that the purpose of life is to live well and follow moral principles. Socrates believes if you follow the moral principles then you are living a well life meaning that your purpose of life is to live well and follow God’s command for you. To live justly means to live fairly and to be honest with yourself and everyone around you. If you live honorably and justly you will be serving God. He doesn’t just believe that following God’s footsteps and serving god is the purpose of life he also believes that there is more to life then that. Socrates believes a man that is freely doing what he needs for his own good is how people should live (Rudebusch 188). When a man is simply doing what he needs for his own well-being is the a right way to live. The purpose to life in Socrates mind is to service God, live honorably and justly and to simply take care of oneself along with many more.
Socrates has a lot to say on morality specifically in the Apology. Morality is seen as the moral principles of society and how can we tell from right or wrong and what is the ethical system (lecture powerpoint of fundamental questions). Morality is not just defined as the questions above but according to the lecture notes on Socrates morality is seen as two components either principled or virtue. Principled is clear account of good/right and virtue is “strength of character that allows you to act consistent with principle” (lecture, powerpoint of Socrates). As this is how Socrates defines morality he shows principle is that is never right in any way for you to commit unjustice or defend oneself against jury by revenge (Crito 49d). Socrates explains that it is unlawfully to commit unfair actions in life. The moral principles of oneself should never protect yourself against the law when it says other wise.
Meaning that when your up for trial do not say things that you know would help you get released for your deed. The second component of morality is virtue which is shown when socrates states “for one who is not pure himself to attain to the realm of purity would no doubt be a breach of the divine order” (Phaedo 67b). When Socrates states this he and Simmias are talking about knowledge how we can stay uncontaminated and will be able to reach the truth. If you believe that truth is a pure thing that you need in order to gain knowledge then you must stay pure in order to have knowledge and let the soul disconnect from your body when it’s time to go. So, if you are not pure and reach the divine order then you don’t have virtue. You don’t have virtue because you were not able to stick with your character that is consistent with your principal.
Socrates has many problems with how the world is. The one condition that I will be talking about is how attached we are to bodies. Socrates says “so long as we keep to the body and our soul is contaminated with this imperfection, there is no chance of our ever attaining satisfactorily to our object, which we assert to be truth” (Phaedo, 66b). When a person is too attached to their body and their soul there is no way they will be able to reach satisfaction for themselves. If the soul is still attached to the body then we are not able to see the truth.
This is because the body is a distraction to our soul. With the distraction there we are not able to see the full truth. Socrates explains how the body distracts us “if we do obtain any leisure form the body’s claims and turn to some line of inquiry” the body will disturb the body again with it investigations by “interrupting, distracting, and preventing us from getting a glimpse of the truth” (Phaedo 66d). Meaning when the soul is still intact with the body then there is no way the soul is able to proceed on without the body. When you are to attached to the body then you can no longer see the truth of death because you are too distracted by the body. Socrates believes that the problem with world is that are too attached to the body to where we are not able to see the truth behind death.
The solution to the condition that was discussed above would be to deattche your body from the soul. Socrates states that the only way to have pure knowledge is that “ we are convinced that if we are ever to have pure knowledge of anything, we must get rid of the body and contemplate things in isolations with the soul in isolation” (Phaedo 66e).
To get pure knowledge we must stop focusing on material things and stick with the soul itself in isolation. When the soul is in isolation we might just be able to obtain pure knowledge. With pure knowledge oneself rids of things that do not matter in life. Socrates also suggests that the solution could be “the soul can reason best when it is free of all distractions such as hearing or sight or pain or pleasure of any kind” (Phaedo 65c). When the soul can reason best it can disassociate itself with the body to its “own devices” the soul can strive for reality and get pure knowledge. It also is says to focus the task of the soul through virtue. If you do this you will be able to obtain pure knowledge and know the whole truth. The solution to the condition is to isolate the soul and become less aware of material things around you.
Part II: Worldview Critique of Socrates
Socrates worldview has many good points and arguments that lead me to think he is correct. One particular argument that I don’t necessarily agree with would be the argument in which Socrates and Simmias are arguing about how a philosophers prepare their whole life for death and it should come easy to one when its time. The argument starts out by Simmias rejecting the previous explanation that Socrates gives. Socrates starts his explanation with this “I want to explain to you how natural it seems to me that a man who has really devoted his life to philosophy should be confident in the ace of death” (Phaedo 64a).
When socrates states this he is explaining to Simmias that as a philosopher you prepare your whole life for death. My question to Socrates would be how can someone, even a philosopher, prepare for death his whole life? It seems impossible to be able to prepare for death. One is not thinking about death when doing everyday activities. So, if you are not thinking about death during these activites how are you preparing your whole life for death? When you prepare your whole life for death socrates says “it would of course be absurd to be troubled when the thing comes for which they have so long been preparing and looking forward” (Phaedo 64a).
With this in mind I ask myself that it’s probably true. If you prepare for death then it would be absurd to be scared of it. This is not where I have a problem. My question is if you are absurd for getting troubled about death after preparing then how will we know how to prepare for death? Is it just a philosophers that can prepare for death their entire life? Is someone else able to prepare for death without being a philosopher? I find it absurd that someone is able to prepare for death their entire life. I also believe that no one is able to fully prepare for life even if you are a philosopher. No one is truly ready to face death.
- Plato, and Hugh Tredennick. Last Days of Socrates. Penguin Books Ltd, 2003.
- Rudebusch, George. Socrates. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.