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I included a comparison between a Chinese philosopher name Confucius and Socrates

about education theory and decision-making.


I also included a comparison between Buddhism and Socrates teachings of expedient
means.
I investigated Socrates contradictions in Platos Republic IV and Apology.

The Importance of Socrates' Practice of Wisdom


Socrates' ideas of wisdom in the Apology are delivered in the speech when he tells
his Athenian jurymen to bear with him, if he speaks in a nontraditional way than that
which is customary in the courtroom. In his speech, it appears that Socrates is bizarre
and out of the ordinary because he does not speak consistently about his charges, but
instead, he takes every opportunity to wake up the men of Athens by throwing them off
balance. He wanted them to realize the ethics of living with conscience as responsible
citizens. What makes Socrates wise is that he sets himself up in the process of inquiry to
arrive at the truth. He identifies in the fact that he is not wise, but the oracle claims he
is. This contradiction allows Socrates to search for the truth through his practice of
elenchus, and what he discovers through his journey is that oracle does not lie, that he is
wise. In the Apology, Socrates weaves his philosophy of wisdom through his dialectic
(practice of elenchus), profession of his ignorance, and his nurturing of the soul as an
inspiration for our livesto deepen our belief in questioning on why we are doing this
or investigating why we are following what others are doing.
To Socrates, the goal is to engage in the process of Socratic dialectic instead of at
arriving at some truth. In each of his dialogue, Socrates persuades his interlocutors to put
forward their ideas and see if they make sense. Then he would test out out their
definition and validity of them through dialectic. The reason for this process is because
he wants us to be vessels of our own ideas and values, rather than be vessels of values
that are picked up from our culture, society, or parents (Jules Evans). He is committed
to the process of teaching about the free to question human life. Socrates even
characterizes himself as a gadfly, one that awakens, cajoles, and reproaches each and
every one of [Athenians] and never stops alighting everywhere on [them] the whole
day (Cohen, Apology, 30e).

Another example that shows Socrates' teaching about wisdom is his encounter with
poets, craftsmen, and politicians. The oracle said that there was no one wiser than
Socrates (21b). In response, Socrates did not understand its meanings. Therefore, he
sought to address what the oracle was saying by approaching Athenians, who had a
reputation for wisdom, e.g., poets, craftsmen, and politicians, and testing their
knowledge of wisdom. Socrates concluded they were not wise because they claim that
they are wise and possess 'superhuman' wisdom (2d). These people consider
themselves knowlegeable and speak of their own wisdom with little source or
foundation in it. Socrates thinks they are not wise at all because he believes human
wisdom is a fallible thing; he realizes that wisdom is a tentative, unconfirmed thing
because there's always more to learn and discover. It is like a person gets enlightened,
comes out of the darkness and sees things as they are, but he still has more to learn.
Wisdom is like enlightenment in that one cannot claim one is enlightened or possess
wisdom because it defeats the purpose.
This connection of Socratic dialectic to wisdom reflects human life, and how
people, pretty much everyone, think highly of themselves, set their own values and
courses of action. Socrates believed that he was wiser than those supposedly wise
men, but still he claimed that he is neither wise with wisdom nor ignorant as they are
with their ignorance. In his opinion, people who claimed to know things that they did
not know are not wise because they did not have understanding of their ignorance.
Wisdom, according to Socrates, is gained through our shortcomings by proving our
ideas wrong and overcoming our ignorance of our biases. Going through this process
improves our confidence in confiding with our inherent wisdom. In his famous paradox,
that what I dont know, I dont think I know (21d), Socrates shows that it is not up to an
individual, even himself, despite the oracles beliefs, to say that he has the truth or
wisdom because there is no clarification of truth.
Socratess wisdom serves as a remedy for our soul. In Book VI, Socrates
emphasized courage, justice, piety, moderation, and wisdom as essentials to lead a good
life. However, Socrates believes that wisdom is the most prized. In this passage, ..443
e. These qualities belong to the soul, as Socrates puts it (443e). When these qualities
are properly cared for, they are brought to its best condition and allows the person to see
what is good and what is not good for him (Cooper). In addition, according to Socrates,
an unexamined life is an incomplete life, even dysfunctional. He says that its the
greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day, and the other things youve heard

me discussing and examining myself and others about, on the grounds that the
unexamined life isnt worth living for a human being. . . (38a). Furthermore, Socrates
does not extol his virtues of wisdom even though he possesses them. Also, at the time of
his death, he is not afraid to embrace his practice of dialectic, even risking his life for it.
Socrates was convinced that the nurturing of the soul was more important than our
bodies or external possessions. Socrates practice of dialectic satisfies our human desire
the examined life, more than success or even life. The soul is separated into three
parts, the rational, appetitive, and the spirit. Each parts determine the character of our
lives, of how one ought to act and why .
I agree with Socrates pursuit of wisdom as the highest goal for human life because I
come to value the importance of the quest of wisdom as a student in the University of
Washington. As a student, I am required to cross-examined my self-doubts and
preconceived beliefs as depicted in Socrates' dialogues. I am learning to self question
and provide further evidence to everyday theories and established ideas and requiring
me to judge ordinary actions and moral beliefs. In addition, the quest of wisdom in my
education allows me to probe and self-reflect and arrive at my own judgments against
presupposed ones. From these discoveries, I feel free from the embezzlements imposed
by societal structures and familial expectations. I find this experience to be satisfying
because I am more aware of my actions and see things as they are, similar to Socrates'
allegory of the cave in Book VII.
Most important of all is that I ascend to a new way of living in what Socrates called as
living an examined life, which is the most valuable thing that rises above any external
circumstances, the only life worth living for.
Another philosopher that is worth examining is Confucius. He is a Chinese
philosopher who shares similar beliefs in ethical principles. Socrates regards
knowledge or wisdom as the dominant factor in human decision. For Confucius, he
regards moral actions and kinship love as the dominant factor in human decision. In
the Analects, he says,
A youth should be filial at home and be respectful to their elders abroad, be earnest and
truthful, love all people and be intimate with persons of humaneness. If in so behaving
he still has energy left, he may use it to improve himself through study. (Lunyu 1:6)

In other words, Confucius holds that filial piety holds superior than any other motives.
Confucius shares similar views with Socrates in that Confucius also claims that he
knows something but yet he still does not. He says, who knows something to be
impracticable and yet still does it (Lunyu 14:38).
What do Socrates mean when he claim in Apology I know that I know nothing and
the fact that inRepublic, he is considered wise in his attempt to explain a just city? The
doctrine of expedient dharmas explains the contradictions in Socrates' definitions of
wisdom because the two passages explain a mean to an end. With that being said, the
tension between Apology and Republic is that they both convey the ultimate goal for
Socrates which is encouraging peoples lives to discover their own human soul by
examination.
Another comparison can be made between Socrates and Buddhism. Buddha was a
spiritual teacher who taught his disciples to liberate themselves and benefit ourselves
and others. He also
A central theme in Buddhism is expedient means to teach principles and moral theories
to humans. Since humans have certain causes and conditions, in which humans have
different karma, personalities, knowledge, relationships, and interactions. They also
have different ways of learning. For those who are tends to be arrogant when they are
well learned and knowledgeable, the Buddha taught them to be humble. For those who
are lazy, the Buddha taught them to be vigorous. His teachings are expedient means in
order to exploit his teachings in order for the humans to learn and practice them.
In the Apology, Socrates arguments toward the population of Athens are declared to
investigate human nature by throwing out I know that I know nothing so that he can
wake them up from their ignorance of knowing wisdom. Socrates specifically targeted
the poets, craftsmen, and politicians because Athens hold them in their careers as the
most gifted and trained philosophers in the city. However, Socrates saw that these men
do not lead an examined life in which he regards to be the greatest good for the
individual. The conflicting statement that Socrates claimed is [he] knows that [he]
knows nothing is an expedient mean to criticize the actions of the poets, craftsmen, and
poets since the majority of the population are blinded by their culture of judging an
individuals career and actions to be just and so forth. Socrates is highly critical of those
who claim that they have wisdom when in fact they do not have any wisdom is because

insofar Socrates thinks that the examined life is not worth living. Ultimately, Socrates
is determined to change Athens culture, in which he holds wisdom and reason to rule as
an individual, rather by their actions and career skills.
Whereas in the Republic, Socrates made an interpretation of the soul with certain parts,
the rational, appetitive, and spirited, that are likened to an ideal city.
The Republic begins with the introduction of the correct definition of justice insofar that
Socrates interlocutors explanations were objected, shows the implications that what
constitute true knowledge are lacking. In the context of Republic IV, Socrates speech in
his just city is also expedient mean to investigate the human nature of the soul by
examining the city. Moreover, when Apology is taken out of context and apply it to
the Republic, Socrates is contradicting his claim of I know that I know nothing with
his own ideas of a just city in order to alight others through his channel of wisdom.
Hence, Socrates wishes to explain the doctrine of wisdom through means of legitimate
claims that he throws out in order to address his belief on the Form of the Good
through an ideal life and city by examination. In both the Apology and Republic
IV, Socrates theory of examining the human soul as the greatest good is a expedient
dharma to wake up the Athenians from their ignorance of the conventional culture and
explain the doctrine of wisdom by drawing a line between true wisdom and cultural
dogmas. All in all, Socrates does not disregard his goal in both Apology and Republic
IV and only sets up the mechanisms (of claiming he knows that he knows nothing and
creating his just city from his knowing) as necessary means to convey his doctrine of
wisdom by reasoning in the given context.

Throughout history and even in today's society, the life worth living for is to amass
wealth and seek after our desires. Their aim of this is to provide for their families and
secure a livelihood, but Socrates wants us to engage beyond this pursuit because other
people can have improper motives and cause personal, social, and economical
repercussions. For instance, take a look at the demagogues, the politicians that are
influencing public policy and decision making. They are speaking through persuasive
talk in order to get the majoritys vote through emotional appeal, and glorify themselves
with their money in exchange of holding office. They dont offer the true information

about the aim of their running for office. This is similar to the poets, craftsmen, and
politicians that failed the test of wisdom who cannot even profess their own expertise.
Ultimately it is not about the knowledge of one's skills or the collection of information
as the aim of human excellence, but what is worth exploring is one's clarity and
intellectual judgment.
All in all, Socrates wants us to brave the unknown of fearing the disruption. His
journey of searching for truth in the oracle, spokesmen, and other encounters is serious
to him because he sees it as a sacred mission to commit themselves to a new way of
living and an improvement of their soul. We can learn from him that we find true
happiness not from external circumstances, but by the progression of our soul.
Works Cited
Hall, D., & Ames, R.T. (1987). Thinking through Confucius. Albany, NY:
State University of New
York Press.
S. Marc Cohen, Patricia Curd, C. D. C. Reeve. Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy:
from Thales to
Aristotle. Hackett Publishing, Oct. 1, 2011. Print.
Reed, Robert. "Euthyphro's Elenchus Experience: Ethical Expertise And Selfknowledge." Ethical
Theory & Moral Practice 16.2 (2013): 245-259.Academic
Search Premier. Web. 5 May 2015.
Evans, Jules. How people use Platonic philosophy
today. http://philosophyforlife.org/philosophies-for-life/platonists/
Socrates Today. The Imaginative Conservative. Jan 2,

2013.http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/01/socrates-today.html