Реферат: Socrates' conception of philosophy


 “Socrates’conception of philosophy”

Ivanov Arkady

1 group


Socrates’ conception of philosophy.

  Socrates, perhaps, the most interesting figurein the philosophy of antiquity, and also a world-famed personage. If shortlyrecall the periods already passed over, could be found that the ancient Ionicphilosophers certainly thought, but without reflecting on the thought ordefining its product as thought. The Atomists made objective existence intothoughts, but these were to them only abstractions, pure entities. Anaxagoras,on the other hand, raised thought into a principle which thereby presenteditself as the all-powerful Notion, as the negative power over all that isdefinite and existent. Protagoras finally expresses thought as real existence,but it is in this its movement, which is the all-resolving consciousness, theunrest of the Notion. Socrates expresses real existence as the universal ‘I,’as the consciousness which rests in itself; but that is the good as such, whichis free from existent reality, free from individual sensuous consciousness offeeling and desire, free finally from the theoretically speculative thoughtabout nature, which, if indeed thought, has still the form of Being in which “Iam not certain of my existence”.

  Socrates herein adopted firstly the doctrineof Anaxagoras that thought, the understanding, is the ruling andself-determining universal, though this principle did not, as with theSophists, attain the form of formal culture or of abstract philosophizing.Thus, if with Socrates, as with Protagoras, the self-conscious thought thatabrogates all that is determined, was real existence, with Socrates this wasthe case in such a way that he at the same time grasped in thought rest andsecurity. This substance existing in and for itself, the self-retaining hasbecome determined as end, and further as the true and the good. The freedom ofself-consciousness in Socrates breaks out. This freedom which is containedtherein, the fact that consciousness is clearly present in all that it thinks,and must necessarily be at home with itself. Thus Socrates’ principle is thatman has to find from himself both the end of his actions and the end of theworld, and must attain to truth through himself. True thought thinks in such away that its import is as truly objective as subjective. But objectivity hasbeen the significance of substantial universality, and not of externalobjectivity; thus truth is now posited as a product mediated through thought.

  Since Socrates thus introduces the infinitelyimportant element of leading back the truth of the objective to the thought ofthe subject, just as Protagoras says that the objective first is throughrelation to us. The battle of Socrates and Plato with the Sophists cannot reston the ground that these, as belonging to the old faith, maintained against theothers: the religion and customs. Reflection, and the reference of any judgmentto consciousness, is held by Socrates in common with the Sophists. But theopposition into which Socrates and Plato were in their philosophy necessarilybrought in regard to the Sophists, as the universal philosophic culture of thetimes, was as follows: — The objective produced through thought, is at the sametime in and for itself, thus being raised above all particularity of interestsand desires, and being the power over them. Hence because, on the one hand, toSocrates and Plato the moment of subjective freedom is the directing ofconsciousness into itself, on the other, this return is also determined as acoming out from particular subjectivity. It is hereby implied that contingencyof events is abolished, and man has this outside within him, as the spiritualuniversal.

  After this Socrates accepted the Good atfirst only in the particular significance of the practical, which neverthelessis only one mode of the substantial Idea; the universal is not only for one man,but also, as end existent in and for itself, the principle of the philosophy ofnature, and in this higher sense it was taken by Plato and Aristotle. OfSocrates it is hence said, in the older histories of Philosophy that his maindistinction was having added ethics as a new conception to Philosophy, whichformerly only took nature into consideration. The teaching of Socrates isproperly subjectively moral, because in it the subjective side, perception andmeaning, is the prevailing moment, although this determination of self-positingis likewise sublimed, and the good and eternal is what is in and for itself.

  According to Cicero Socrates’ most eminentcharacteristic was to have brought Philosophy from heaven to earth, to thehomes and every-day life of men. This would seem as if the best and truestPhilosophy were only a domestic or fireside philosophy, which conforms to allthe ordinary ideas of men, and in which we see friends and faithful ones talktogether of righteousness, and of what can be known on the earth, withouthaving penetrated the depths of the heavens, or rather the depths ofconsciousness. But this last is exactly what Socrates, as these men themselvesindicate, first ventured to do. And it was not incumbent on him to reflect uponall the speculations of past Philosophy, in order to be able to come down inpractical philosophy to inward thought. This gives a general idea of hisprinciple.

  Accordingto Plato’s “Apology” Socrates’ behavior to others was not only just true, openwithout rudeness, and honorable, but also Socrates is an example of the mostperfect Attic urbanity; because he moves in the freest possible relations, hasa readiness for conversation which is always judicious, and, because it has aninward universality, at the same time always has the right living relationshipto the individual, and bears upon the case on which it operates.

  After all this, it could be said thatSocrates can be considered not only as the ideal men, but also as the idealphilosopher.

Socrates’ virtue.

 Virtues of Socrates are certainly to be lookedat as his own, and as made habitual to him by his own will. To him virtue isperception. Aristotle criticizes (Magna Mor. I. 1) on the quality of virtueexpounded by Socrates. He says: “Socrates made virtues into a science. But thisis impossible, since, though all knowledge has some basis this basis onlyexists in thought. Consequently, he places all the virtues in the thinking sideof the soul. Hence, it comes to pass that he does away with the feeling part ofthe soul, that is, the inclination and the habits.” Or Aristotle (Eth. Nicom.VI. 13), supplementing the one-sidedness of Socrates, says of him: “Socrates inone respect worked on right lines, but not in the other. For to call virtuescientific knowledge is untrue, but to say that it is not without scientificbasis is right. Socrates made virtues into perceptions, but virtue exists withperception.”

 Could be seen that Aristotle misses the sideof subjective actuality in the determination of virtue in Socrates, which nowcalled the heart. Understanding the reality of the good as universal morality,substantiality is wanting to the perception; but matter, regarding theinclination of the individual subjective will as this reality. This double wantmay also be considered as a want of content and of activity, in so far as tothe universal development is wanting; and in the latter case, determiningactivity comes before us as negative only in reference to the universal.Socrates thus omits, in characterizing virtue. As to Aristotle himself, hethought that virtue is that, what makes people feel good. It means that the goodperceived should be virtue, it must come to pass that the whole man, the heartand mind, should be identical with it, and this aspect of Being or ofrealization generally. 


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www.san.beck.org(was taken on the 3d of December)

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www.istina.ru/philosofy(was taken on the 4th of December)

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Bertrand Russell “the history of western civilization” (Russian edition,2003,part I and part II ch XI XII XIII)

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www.historic.ru/books/item/f00/s00/z0000019/st034.shtml (was taken on the 3d of December)

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www.filosofia.ronl.ru/1319_1.shtml(was taken on the 3d of December)