Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Ralph Cudworth, Socrates and Thomas Jefferson

unexpand these ideas     |    start again     |     choose another area for these philosophers

display all the ideas for this combination of philosophers


10 ideas

20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / d. Weakness of will
No one willingly commits an evil or base act [Socrates]
     Full Idea: I am fairly certain that no wise man believes anyone sins willingly or willingly perpetrates any evil or base act.
     From: Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]), quoted by Plato - Protagoras 345e
Socrates did not accept the tripartite soul (which permits akrasia) [Vlastos on Socrates]
     Full Idea: Xenophon indirectly indicates that he does not associate Socrates in any way with the tripartite psychology of the 'Republic', for within that theory akrasia would be all too possible.
     From: comment on Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Gregory Vlastos - Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher p.102
The common belief is that people can know the best without acting on it [Socrates]
     Full Idea: Most people think there are many who recognise the best but are unwilling to act on it.
     From: Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]), quoted by Plato - Protagoras 352d
People do what they think they should do, and only ever do what they think they should do [Socrates, by Xenophon]
     Full Idea: There is no one who knows what they ought to do, but thinks that they ought not to do it, and no one does anything other than what they think they ought to do.
     From: report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Xenophon - Memorabilia of Socrates 4.6.6
     A reaction: This is Socrates' well-known rejection of the possibility of weakness of will (akrasia - lit. 'lack of control'). Aristotle disagreed, and so does almost everyone else. Modern smokers seem to exhibit akrasia. I have some sympathy with Socrates.
Socrates was shocked by the idea of akrasia, but observation shows that it happens [Aristotle on Socrates]
     Full Idea: Socrates thought it a shocking idea that when a man actually has knowledge in him something else should overmaster it, ..but this is glaringly inconsistent with the observed facts.
     From: comment on Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Aristotle - Nichomachean Ethics 1145b24
     A reaction: Aristotle seems very confident, but it is not at all clear (even to the agent) what is going on when apparent weakness of will occurs (e.g. breaking a diet). What exactly does the agent believe at the moment of weakness?
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / a. Practical reason
For Socrates, wisdom and prudence were the same thing [Socrates, by Xenophon]
     Full Idea: Socrates did not distinguish wisdom from prudence, but judged that the man who recognises and puts into practice what is truly good, and the man who knows and guards against what is disgraceful, are both wise and prudent.
     From: report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Xenophon - Memorabilia of Socrates 3.9.3
     A reaction: Compare Aristotle, who separates them, claiming that prudence is essential for moral virtue, but wisdom is pursued at a different level, closer to the gods than to society.
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / b. Intellectualism
For Socrates, virtues are forms of knowledge, so knowing justice produces justice [Socrates, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: Socrates thought that the virtues were all forms of knowledge, and therefore once a man knew justice, he would be a just man.
     From: report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Aristotle - Eudemian Ethics 1216b07
     A reaction: The clearest possible statement of Socrates' intellectualism. Aristotle rejected the Socrates view, but I find it sympathetic. Smokers who don't want to die seem to be in denial. To see the victims is to condemn the crime.
Socrates was the first to base ethics upon reason, and use reason to explain it [Taylor,R on Socrates]
     Full Idea: Socrates was the first significant thinker to try basing ethics upon reason, and to try uncovering its natural principles solely by the use of reason.
     From: comment on Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Richard Taylor - Virtue Ethics: an Introduction Ch.7
     A reaction: Interesting. It seems to me that Socrates overemphasised reason, presumably because it was a novelty. Hence his view that akrasia is impossible, and that virtue is simply knowledge. Maybe action is not just rational, but moral action is.
All human virtues are increased by study and practice [Socrates, by Xenophon]
     Full Idea: If you consider the virtues that are recognised among human beings, you will find that they are all increased by study and practice.
     From: report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Xenophon - Memorabilia of Socrates 2.6.41
     A reaction: 'Study' is the intellectualist part of this remark; the reference to 'practice' fits with Aristotle view that virtue is largely a matter of good habits. The next question would be how theoretical the studies should be. Philosophy, or newspapers?
The wise perform good actions, and people fail to be good without wisdom [Socrates, by Xenophon]
     Full Idea: It is the wise who perform truly good actions, and those who are not wise cannot, and, if they try to, fail.
     From: report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Xenophon - Memorabilia of Socrates 3.9.6
     A reaction: The essence of Socrates' intellectualism, with which Aristotle firmly disagreed (when he assert that only practical reason was needed for virtuous actions, rather than wisdom or theory). Personally I side more with Socrates than with Aristotle on this.