The Socratic Psyche Essay Research Paper I

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The Socratic Psyche Essay, Research Paper I will begin this paper with a brief account of Socrates. I feel this is necessary for those who are not familiar with Socrates. It is as follows: Socrates (C. 470-399 B.C.) Athenian philosopher who allegedly wrote down none of his views, supposedly from his belief that writing distorts ideas. His chief student, Plato, is the major source of knowledge about his life. Socrates questioned Athenians about their moral, political, and religious beliefs, as depicted in Plato^s dialogues; his questioning technique, called dialectic, has greatly influenced Western philosophy. Socrates is alleged to have said that ^the unexamined life is not worth living.^ In 399 B. C., he was brought to trial on charges of corrupting the youth and religious

heresy. Sentenced to die, he drank poison. Of the early life of Socrates, there is little to go on. Looking at W.K.C. Guthrie^s History of Greek Philosophy Vol. III, we can extract some useful background information. Socrates was a native Athenian and he was the son of Sophroniscus and Phaenarete. His father is thought to have been a stone mason or sculptor. Some even think that Sophroniscus owned the stone-cutting shop and was quite wealthy. Socrates^ mother is believed to have come from a good family (378). Socrates was also involved in active military service during the Peloponnesian war as a hoplite. Socrates would to have had the wealth and status associated with this position. Socrates had earned high praise for his courage and coolness in battle. He took part in three

campaigns and his feats of endurance were well known (Guthrie 379). We also know that Socrates was an excellent soldier and that neither heat nor cold affected him and that his fortitude was well known among fellow hoplites and acquaintances (Symp. 220b). Socrates was not a handsome man, at least outwardly. He had bulging eyes, a broad, flat, turned-up nose, thick lips and a paunch (Guthrie 387). Socrates speaks of an inner voice, given to him by a god. Socrates said that he did not understand the meaning of this voice, but that it guided him to seek the truth, the just, what he felt were virtuous. This inner voice propels him to seek the truth, to steer him away from what is wrong. As Socrates goes about seeking the truth and knowledge, he tells people that he knows nothing and

understands even less (Apology 31d) I would call this inner voice the morality of Socrates; the innate knowledge of what is right/wrong and what is just/unjust, voices that are mostly negative for people. This voice, though, leads him to seek the answers for unresolved questions. Socrates was a gadfly, a pest always there creating an itch, as if forcing a person to pay constant attention. Socrates was called the wisest man in Athens, a compliment that he brushed aside which also baffled him. The understanding of the truth was the final goal. Socrates^ method for attaining this was to take a statement, have a series of cross-examinations, try to tear down the other side^s argument and then to rebuild and reform. The result would be the truth of a given matter. This process is

called dialectic, or elenchos. In the Euthyphro, we have a man who professes to know the law and duty to religion. Euthyphro had charged his father with murder. His father had bound a servant by the hands and feet and threw him into a ditch. The man had killed a household slave and the father went to seek the advice of the priest in how to handle this matter. Meanwhile, the man had died of hunger, cold and because of his hands being bound. Socrates comes along (he was near the king-archon^s court, for he was under indictment by one Meletus, for corrupting the youth and religious heresy) and in the dialogue, Socrates makes Euthphro see his error. Euthyphro realized that after talking to Socrates he really did not know as much as he thought he did. In fact, he understood nothing