TA: Noreen
Discussion Section: 12pm Friday

Discussion with Socrates

Socrates was an interrogative man, who asked questions incessantly in order to find out if he was the smartest man, as the god Apollo had stated to him. He would ask questions that dealt with moral issues, such as how should a person live, and what is a good life. Socrates is the smartest man because he knows that he doesn't know everything. Everyone else in Athens is the opposite, believing that they know everything about something or everything about everything. Socrates also believed that philosophy is the only way to prepare for death, because it encourages the separation between body and soul. He stated before he died that "dying cures me of the sickness, which is life." A conversation with Socrates would probably reveal a lot of things about me that I wouldn't particularly like, but hopefully I could learn, grow, and improve on those things.

If I were to be interrogated by Socrates concerning the things that I value, and the beliefs which I hold, the conversation might sound something like this:

Socrates may begin the conversation with a question, as usual "What do you value most in your life?" I would reply "I value my family and religious belief in god the most." Socrates may then ask "Are you doing things that would please god?" I would reply "I am doing the best that I can to please god." Socrates might reply with something like "What have you done to show your devotion or piety to god?" I would reply to that with "I please god by following commandments that he gives me" and then I would make specific examples of commandments such as "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not steal". Socrates may then ask "What makes these commandments pious?" I would then say "These commandments are pious because they make god and people in general happy and whatever brings happiness to people must be what god loves." Socrates would reply "So whatever makes someone happy is pious? Please define what happiness is." And I would say "Happiness is a feeling of joy and knowledge that you are doing what god wants of you." Socrates would finally say "Are these commandments which bring happiness pious because god commands them or are these commandments pious inherently?"

And to this I would have no reply, just as Euthyphro didn't have a reply to this question, because there is no answer, only a separation of those who are moral realists, who believe that things are good in and of themselves, and those who are moral conventionalists, who believe things that are moral are what we all agree on.

Then later, if I were to be interrogated by Socrates about my goals in life the conversation would go like this perhaps:

Socrates would ask "What kind of goals are you pursuing?" I would reply "I am currently trying to graduate from college and get a good job." Socrates may then ask "Why do you want a good job?" I would quickly reply "So I can have money to survive." Socrates may then ask "What kind of job would you like to go into?" I would answer "I am currently studying computer information systems and would like to get a career in that field." Socrates would ask "How many hours a week would you be spending in this job?" I would respond with "About 40 hours a week." Socrates would then ask "How many hours a day would you spend following your religious beliefs?" I would reply "About 5 hours a week." Then he would ask "And how many hours a week would you spend with your family? To that I would reply "I don't get to see them that much, because I live 1.5 hours away from them." Socrates may then say "If your religious beliefs and your family are the things you value the most, why don't you spend more time with them?" I would reply "I have to work that much because the world requires that time of me, and there is no way around it and my family is too far out of the way." And with encouragement Socrates may say "These things are important, but the most important thing you can do with your life is practice philosophy or in other words become a lover of wisdom. This helps you understand that there is a separation between body and soul and living a good life will enable you to understand that life is only a sickness which holds us back from our potential."

Socrates believed that engaging in dialogue was the ultimate way of learning and teaching. Although Socrates was right about most things and pointed out faults in others he was also humble, as was pointed out by the passage which stated that Socrates was merely a "gadfly" constantly agitating a horse, preventing it from becoming sluggish and going to sleep. He also knew that he didn't know everything, which made him more humble than anyone in Athens. So in conclusion, I believe what Socrates taught is the truth, that if we spend our lives in the pursuit of wisdom then we will understand the true meaning of life, and ultimately the true meaning of death.

Socrates 7.1 of 10 on the basis of 3691 Review.