Ideas of Socrates, by Theme

[Greek, 469 - 399 BCE, Athenian. Lived as unpaid teacher. Executed for "impiety and corrupting the young". Taught Plato, Archelaus, Antisthenes. Never wrote.]

green numbers give full details    |    back to list of philosophers    |     expand these ideas
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 2. Ancient Philosophy / c. Classical philosophy
For the truth you need Prodicus's fifty-drachma course, not his one-drachma course
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 2. Invocation to Philosophy
The unexamined life is not worth living for men
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 3. Philosophy Defined
A philosopher is one who cares about what other people care about [Foucault]
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 6. Hopes for Philosophy
Socrates opened philosophy to all, but Plato confined moral enquiry to a tiny elite [Vlastos]
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 1. Nature of Analysis
Philosophical discussion involves dividing subject-matter into categories [Xenophon]
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 2. Analysis by Division
Socrates began the quest for something universal with his definitions, but he didn't make them separate [Aristotle]
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 1. Dialectic
It is legitimate to play the devil's advocate
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 2. Elenchus
Socrates always proceeded in argument by general agreement at each stage [Xenophon]
Socrates was pleased if his mistakes were proved wrong
In Socratic dialogue you must say what you believe, so unasserted premises are not debated [Vlastos]
2. Reason / D. Definition / 6. Definition by Essence
Socrates sought essences, which are the basis of formal logic [Aristotle]
4. Formal Logic / A. Syllogistic Logic / 1. Aristotelian Logic
Socrates developed definitions as the basis of syllogisms, and also inductive arguments [Aristotle]
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / a. Platonic Forms
Socrates did not consider universals or definitions as having separate existence, but Plato made Forms of them [Aristotle]
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / b. Self as mental continuity
For Socrates our soul, though hard to define, is our self [Vlastos]
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / d. Weakness of will
The common belief is that people can know the best without acting on it
Socrates did not accept the tripartite soul (which permits akrasia) [Vlastos]
People do what they think they should do, and only ever do what they think they should do [Xenophon]
Socrates was shocked by the idea of akrasia, but observation shows that it happens [Aristotle]
No one willingly commits an evil or base act
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / a. Practical reason
For Socrates, wisdom and prudence were the same thing [Xenophon]
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / b. Intellectualism
For Socrates, virtues are forms of knowledge, so knowing justice produces justice [Aristotle]
Socrates was the first to base ethics upon reason, and use reason to explain it [Taylor,R]
All human virtues are increased by study and practice [Xenophon]
The wise perform good actions, and people fail to be good without wisdom [Xenophon]
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 5. Natural Beauty
Socrates despised good looks [Plato]
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / e. Fine deeds
Things are both good and fine by the same standard [Xenophon]
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / e. Good as knowledge
The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance [Diog. Laertius]
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / b. Eudaimonia
Socrates was the first to put 'eudaimonia' at the centre of ethics [Vlastos]
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
Socrates conservatively assumed that Athenian conventions were natural and true [Taylor,R]
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 8. Contract Strategies
We should not even harm someone who harms us
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / a. Nature of virtue
By 'areté' Socrates means just what we mean by moral virtue [Vlastos]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
A well-made dung basket is fine, and a badly-made gold shield is base, because of function [Xenophon]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
A good man cannot be harmed, either in life or in death
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
Socrates is torn between intellectual virtue, which is united and teachable, and natural virtue, which isn't [PG]
Socrates agrees that virtue is teachable, but then denies that there are teachers [MacIntyre]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
We should ask what sort of people we want to be
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
Socrates believed that basically there is only one virtue, the power of right judgement [Williams,B]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / a. Virtues
Socrates made the civic values of justice and friendship paramount [Grayling]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / c. Justice
One ought not to return a wrong or injury to any person, whatever the provocation
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / c. Wealth
Wealth is good if it is accompanied by virtue
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism
Socrates emphasises that the knower is an existing individual, with existence his main task [Kierkegaard]
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 2. Sexual Morality
A lover using force is a villain, but a seducer is much worse, because he corrupts character [Xenophon]
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 1. Death
Men fear death as a great evil when it may be a great blessing
If death is like a night of dreamless sleep, such nights are very pleasant
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / b. Retribution for crime
Socrates was the first to grasp that a cruelty is not justified by another cruelty [Vlastos]
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 7. Communitarianism
Obedience to the law gives the best life, and success in war [Xenophon]
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / a. Legal system
Will I stand up against the law, simply because I have been unjustly judged?
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / b. Euthyphro question
Socrates holds that right reason entails virtue, and this must also apply to the gods [Vlastos]
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / c. God is the good
A new concept of God as unswerving goodness emerges from Socrates' commitment to virtue [Vlastos]
28. God / C. Attitudes to God / 5. Atheism
Socrates is accused of denying the gods, saying sun is stone and moon is earth [Plato]