Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Ralph Cudworth, Socrates and Thomas Jefferson

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5 ideas

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.