The Good Life Essay Research Paper As

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The Good Life Essay, Research Paper As used originally by the ancient Greeks, the term philosophy meant the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. The term philosophy is often used popularly to mean a set of basic values and attitudes toward life, nature, and society-thus the phrase “philosophy of life.” Western philosophy is considered generally to have begun in ancient Greece as speculation about the underlying nature of the physical world. In its earliest form it was indistinguishable from natural science. The writings of the earliest philosophers no longer exist, except for a few fragments cited by Aristotle and by other writers of later times. Plato’s own theory of knowledge is found in the Republic, particularly in his discussion of the image of the divided line

and the myth of the cave. In the former, Plato distinguishes between two levels of awareness: opinion and knowledge. Claims or assertions about the physical or visible world, including both common-sense observations and the propositions of science, are opinions only. Some of these opinions are well founded; some are not; but none of them counts as genuine knowledge. The higher level of awareness is knowledge, because there reason, rather than sense experience, is involved. Reason, properly used, results in intellectual insights that are certain, and the objects of these rational insights are the abiding universals, the eternal Forms or substances that constitute the real world. Plato divides the human soul into three parts: the rational part, the will, and the appetites.

Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is very similar to Plato’s theory on the constituents of the psyche, but he defines it as the superego, the ego and the id. According to Plato, a just person is the one in whom the rational element, supported by the will, controls the appetites. An obvious analogy exists here with the threefold class structure of the state, in which the enlightened philosopher-kings, supported by the soldiers, govern the rest of society. Plato’s ethical theory rests on the assumption that virtue is knowledge and can be taught, which has to be understood in terms of his theory of Forms. The ultimate Form for Plato is the Form of the Good, and knowledge of this Form is the source of guidance in moral decision making. Plato also argued that to know the good is to

do the good. The consequence of this is that anyone who behaves immorally does so out of ignorance. This conclusion follows from Plato’s conviction that the moral person is the truly happy person, and because individuals always desire their own happiness, they always desire to do that which is morally good. The theory of Ideas, which is expressed in many of his dialogues, particularly the Republic and the Parmenides, divides existence into two realms, an metaphysical realm (intelligible realm) of perfect, eternal, and invisible Ideas, or Forms, and a physical realm (sensible realm) of concrete, familiar objects. Trees, stones, human bodies, and other objects that can be known through the senses are for Plato unreal, shadowy, and imperfect copies of the Ideas. He was led to this

apparently bizarre conclusion by his high standard of knowledge, which required that all genuine objects of knowledge be described without contradiction. Because all objects perceived by the senses undergo change, an assertion made about such objects at one time will not be true at a later time. According to Plato, these objects are not completely real. Beliefs derived from experience of such objects are therefore vague and unreliable, whereas the principles of mathematics and philosophy, discovered by inner meditation on the Ideas, constitute the only knowledge worthy of the name. In the Republic, Plato described humanity as imprisoned in a cave and mistaking shadows on the wall for reality; he regarded the philosopher as the person who penetrates the world outside the cave of