Saturday, May 9, 2009

07 Socrates

In Socrates (about 450 B.C.)we meet a completely different philosopher. May be it is a logical step in the development of mind.

Did we start with Thales and real ontological questions....the questions after what really exists, with Pythagoras and Zeno we move on to real epistemological questions after what can we KNOW for sure about being.

And now we meet a man who aims this epistemological question at man himself. Highest goal isnt to know what IS, but highest goal is to take care of the welbeing of our soul.

The soul is the principle and essence of man as a responsable individual. Life as such makes no a life as a GOOD person, that makes life worth living.

And that brought us the Socratic method..the method of questioning everything we believe, we think is true. And Socrates was a master in this. He had no doctrine. He didnt try to convert people. He just questioned their believes.

He tried to make them discover that what they held to be true and absolutely right wasnt so true afterall unless you accept contradictions.

The main issue of Socrates was an epistemological on. As you know, epistemology it the theory of knowledge. But in his case not about knowledge of the physical world, or knowledge of what certainty is.

For Socrates it was mainly knowledge of ethics. He discussed the meaning of Good and Evil, of Virtue with people. How can we live a life as a good human? You could say that he was the first rational emovite therapist. He helped people to gain insight in themselves by rational analysis of their believes.

When asked, the Oracle of Delphi had said, that there was no wiser man than Socrates. He didnt take this statement literally. He thought that it was a riddle. So he went to men in Athens, who were considered to be wise and tested them on their knowledge of what is good, what is virtue.

And he discovered that they didnt know the real answers, allthough they still thought that they did know. Neither could Socrates give the right and absolute answers. Thence he came to his famous conclusion about his real wisdom:

oida ouk oida, which means "I know that I dont know (anything)"

This didnt mean that he didnt know what day it was, or whether it was day or night. He meant to say that he couldnt find any absolute and certain knowledge about the essence of being a human being. No absolute answer to the question what is right or wrong, beautiful or a virtue.

With that conviction he made a fool of all people who stated that they absolutely knew for certain what had to be done or what was right.

After the more abstract epistemological debates from Thales to Zeno in Socrates we meet the first philosopher who asks after man himself, who dedicates himself completely to the ethical questions, who wants to know what life makes worthwhile and meaningful.

The Discussion

[13:10] herman Bergson: Well....Socrates today...a new milestone in our journey
[13:12] herman Bergson: well..ok let's begin

[13:18] Rodney Handrick: oida ouk oida...Is that greek?
[13:18] herman Bergson: yes it is..:-)

[13:19] herman Bergson: After the more abstract epistemological debates from Thales to Zeno in Socrates we meet the first philosopher who asks after man himself, who dedicates himself completely to the ethical questions, who wants to know what life makes worthwhile and meaningful.

[13:19] herman Bergson: As you see....a completely different approach now
[13:20] Rodney Handrick: hmm...
[13:20] herman Bergson: not nature but man is the central issue of the debate now
[13:21] herman Bergson: if you have any remarks or questions...feel free..
[13:22] Lighthorse Wilkinson: What motivated this change?
[13:23] herman Bergson: A good question....
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: it would have made a good question
[13:23] herman Bergson: Maybe it was the period of history of Athens.....
[13:24] herman Bergson: Athens was in its decline.....Greece was terrorized by wars
[13:24] You: death to the thinker
[13:24] herman Bergson: political disorder in Athens itself....
[13:25] herman Bergson: Maybe the uncertainty of those days made man ask after himself
[13:25] herman Bergson: and the observed untruthfull ness of those who were n power....
[13:25] herman Bergson: Socrates was a political person
[13:26] Lighthorse Wilkinson: A political person with compassion?
[13:26] herman Bergson: to some extend he is an intermezzo....
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: kept to his principles...even to his death
[13:27] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Yes.
[13:27] herman Bergson: History here looks like a wave...
[13:27] Cailleach Shan: At the same time he was an ordinary working man with a wife and kids..
[13:27] herman Bergson: from abstract knowledge to focus on ethics and with Plato and Aristotels moving again into the realm of abstract epistemology
[13:28] herman Bergson: but With Socrates the ethical questions were definitely added to the realm of philosophy
[13:29] herman Bergson: there are many stories about his daily life..:-)
[13:30] herman Bergson: You can see the development....Socrates asked after the individual mainly.....
[13:30] herman Bergson: Plato would also ask after the state as an organisation of individuals
[13:31] herman Bergson: slowly but steadily you see the landscape of philosophy widen
[13:31] herman Bergson: it started out with the question after what is....
[13:32] herman Bergson: now we also include ethics and political thinking
[13:32] hope63 Shepherd: herman.. socrates lived the pèelepones war.. and i think in a way he felt beeing greek like no one else before him.. so the ethical questions.. one should know about sparta when we see him in the historical context.. were far mor important to him than for the ancient philosophers..
13:34] herman Bergson: I think you are right, Hope...
[13:34] herman Bergson: Socrates was a man of his time...
[13:34] herman Bergson: in the mids of the historical events
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: He was a whistle blower...
[13:35] herman Bergson: what do you mean, Caileach?
[13:36] Cailleach Shan: His public statements drew peoples attention to what he considered was important.... and he criticised the democracy of the time.
[13:36] Cailleach Shan: He wasn't popular
[13:36] You: sentenced to death for it
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes indeed.....and this even caused his death
[13:37] herman Bergson: but he was about 70 then
[13:37] herman Bergson: and he embraced his deathpenalty as a way to escape of the diseases of old age
[13:38] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Not so noble?
[13:38] Sinclair Bracken: perhaps his death was more of a case of assisted suicide
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes indeed.....
[13:39] herman Bergson: besides Socrates held the opinion that a philosopher isnt afraid of death
[13:39] Lighthorse Wilkinson: There it is.
[13:39] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. even Plato has left us his defense speech and his last moments.. i think for everyone today it would be something we should read..
[13:40] herman Bergson: you mean the Phaedon, Hope?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well..there is lots of info on Socrates and Plato around so everyone can find it easily
[13:41] herman Bergson: Next lecture will be on the real great one of his days
[13:42] You: The Philosopher King
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: who is that?
[13:42] herman Bergson: Plato.....of whom Whitehead said, that all Western philosophy is footnotes to Plato's philosophy
[13:43] herman Bergson: A nice saying, tho I dont agree..:-)
[13:43] You: pays a high tribute to him
[13:44] herman Bergson: Unless you have further questions or remrks, I thank you for your attention again...:-)
[13:44] Lighthorse Wilkinson: :)
[13:44] Cailleach Shan: Thanks Herman.
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: thank you again
[13:44] Sinclair Bracken: when is the next meeting?
[13:44] herman Bergson: My pleasure..and thank you
[13:44] Rodney Handrick: yes...thank you
[13:44] Qwark Allen: thx u herman!!

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-10-16 16:45:40

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