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Intro to Philosophy Essay

The word philosophy itself means “the love of wisdom. ” Philosophy stands for doing the right thing or being a “just” person. Philosophy also means to see things for what they truly are and not what they may seem to be. A philosopher’s life is a lifelong quest to find the meaning of things beyond their physical appearance. The Ring of Gyges is a ring that a man puts on and becomes invisible. When he does wrong he is not blamed, he gets away with it. Once a man puts this ring on he can be unjust without punishment. In the second book of The Republic Adimantus argued that the unjust life is happier than the unjust.

His argument was that a just man can go without now and enjoy heaven in the afterlife while an unjust man will go without nothing and still enjoy the benefits of the after life. Through the eyes of a philosopher there are two worlds, the visible world and the intelligible world. In the visible you can see things and judge them from what you actually see. If a person sees a flower one could judge that it is a beautiful flower. However, the person is judging this flowers beauty on its physical appearance and their claim is merely an opinion rather than true knowledge.

In “The Allegory of the Cave” men are chained inside of a cave. All they can see is the shadows that are formed on the wall in front of them. The people inside of the cave believe that the shadows that are being cast on the wall is reality. When one of the men is unchained and brought to the outside world at first he is blinded by the sun and cannot see clearly. The man can only see the shadows of the objects in front of him, this can be perceived as the images of physical objects. When his eyes adjust he can see more than the shadows, he can see the physical objects themselves.

When the man goes back inside of the cave to tell the others what he has seen he again cannot see clearly because his eyes have not adjusted. The others in the cave laugh claiming that the sun has ruined his eyes. For a period of time he cannot decipher what the shadows on the wall are imitating. They don’t believe what the man is telling them. In Plato’s Analogy of the Divided Line the four stages of cognition, which represent the levels of existence, are explained. The first two stages, the good and the sun, represent the visible world.

The third and fourth stages, knowledge and opinion, represent the intelligible world. These stages are represented in “The Allegory of the Cave. ” Without the sun’s light we would not be able to see anything at all. The sun allows us to see the flower that we perceived as beautiful. Without the suns light we would not be able to see or perceive any of the physical objects that exist. The sun is perceived as the things that we see. The sun also allows for all living life on earth. Without the sun all life on Earth would diminish. Without the sun we could not perceive anything at all. 1.

A person can only understand something once they have reached the highest level of cognitive activity. One must acquire the Form of Good before they can truly understand something. Images and assumptions are not enough support to truly understand the meaning of something. The images the prisoners in the cave saw and the assumptions they made about what they thought they could be are only their opinions. Although they were able to identify the shadows on the wall as what they thought they were it is not enough to truly know what they are, the identities given to the shadows by the prisoners is merely their opinion.

In “Phaedo” Socrates claims that our soul is attached to our body. Our body acts as a vessel only operating because of the soul inside. According to Socrates our body holds us back from perceiving things for what they truly are and therefore a philosopher should desire death because it enables them to continue their quest of reality. 2. Socrates viewed death as a purification of the body that allows us find pure wisdom. Socrates explained how our souls are glued to our bodies and only when they are unfastened by death is a person able to experience wisdom in its purest state.

The body distracts us from finding the truth because it requires maintenance. The body allows us to feel pain and emotions like love, fear and hunger. Socrates admits that philosophers are more or less practicing for death and should embrace it when it comes for them. “And will he who is a true lover of wisdom, and is persuaded in like manner that only in the world below he can worthily enjoy her, still repine death? Will he not depart with joy? Surely, he will, my friend, if he be a true philosopher. For he will have a firm conviction that there only, and nowhere else, he can find wisdom in her purity.

” (Phaedo pg. 65) Socrates believes that philosophy is good because it enlightens us to what things actually are rather than what they’re perceived to be. Philosophy is what brings the unchained man outside of the cave. It pushes us to go into the unknown, which we at one point we thought we knew. Once we realize what things actually are we also realize that we had no idea what they really were before. The man in the cave that once thought that the only reality was the shadows on the wall now realizes that the shadows weren’t reality at all.

Socrates was formally charged because he didn’t worship the gods recognized by the states and for corrupting the youth of Athens. The informal charges against Socrates was asking questions that were unusual, or outside of the box. “Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others” p. 21 Apology The oracle of Delphi told Socrates that he was the wisest man. Socrates refused to accept this statement and went searching for a wiser man than himself.

In search of a wiser man than himself, Socrates talked with many people including politicians, poets and craftsmen who claimed to be wise. Socrates found them to not be wise because they thought they knew things that they did not. Socrates proclaimed himself as wise because he knew that he did not know. Socrates exposed the false wisdom of the men who were thought to be wise. Naturally these men held much resistance and hostility towards Socrates. These negative feelings contributed to Socrates’ trial. Socrates refutes Meletus’ statement that he doesn’t believe in any god, that he is an atheist.

Socrates does this by confirming that he does in fact believe in supernatural activities, such as his inner voice that told him he was the wisest man, and therefore is not an atheist. Socrates states that wealthy young men, enjoy following him around and listening to him question people. It’s entertaining for them. These men, who think they are wise but aren’t, then go out and try to do this on their own. When the people they question get angry instead of being angry with themselves, become angry with Socrates. They accuse Socrates of filling the young men’s head with nonsense.

When asked about what Socrates teaches they don’t know and then use claims already made against philosophers against Socrates. Socrates then asks Meletus who he thinks an improver of the youth is. Meletus claims that the law is an improver of the youth, such as judges and senators. Socrates then proclaims that everyone in the state is an improver of the youth except himself. Meletus agrees to this statement. Socrates states that he must either not corrupt the youth or unintentionally corrupt the youth because good do their neighbors good, and evil do them evil. If he had corrupted someone, in theory, they should have harmed him by now.

In Socrates’ last defense he says, “For if you kill me you will not easily find another like me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is like a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has given the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. ” (31-32) Socrates is attempting to demonstrate to the people of the city that there is more to their life than what meets the eye.

Without philosophers such as himself they will continue to live the life they’re living with no desire to search for more. They will continue to accept the shadows on the wall as their reality. There are three parts to the soul. These three parts consist of the rational, high spirit and the appetitive. The rational portion of the soul is the part of us that seeks knowledge of wisdom. According to Plato the rational should rule the soul. The high spirit consists of the angry and prideful part of the soul that defends and aids the rational. The high spirit avoids shame.

The final part of the soul, the appetitive, is the part of the soul that desires. While some desires are necessary, others are not. If not restrained by the rational, the appetitive portion of the soul can over rule all other parts. In addition to the three parts of the soul there are also three parts of the city. These three parts are the gold, silver and the bronze. The golds are the guardians, the silvers are the enforcers of the laws (helpers), and the bronzes are the merchants and tradesmen. The city virtue of wisdom resides within the gold’s, the guardians.

In order to posses civic wisdom one must know how the city operates and how all parts of the city are connected. The knowledge of how the city runs and operates allows the city to operate at the highest level. The city virtue of bravery and justice resides with the silvers, the enforcers of laws. Civic bravery is the defined as the Silvers upholding their education about what things are and are not to be feared and in what order as ordered to them by the Golds. Civic justice refers to sticking to your own work whether you are a moneymaker, helper, or guardian. It’s considered unjust to work outside of your boundaries.

The city virtue of temperance exists within the bronze citizens, the merchants and tradesmen, of the city. The civic temperance is the agreement (harmony) between the three sections (gold, silver and bronze) as to who should rule and who should obey. The personal virtue of wisdom is housed by ones rational portion of the soul. Personal wisdom consists of knowing all parts of the soul and how they are connected to one another. The ultimate goal of personal wisdom is keeping the soul as healthy and as balanced as possible. Personal bravery and justice is contained within the high-spirit part of the soul.

The High-Spirit of the soul is to preserve the education of what is and is not to be feared. The Rational tells the High-Spirit in which order things are to be feared or not feared. The personal virtue of justice minds it’s own within each part of the soul. The appetitive portion of the soul houses the personal temperance virtue. The personal temperance works in agreement between the three portions of the soul as to who should rule and who should obey. The advantage of philosophy with respect to the state is the efficiency. Everyone has jobs that relate well to their attributes.

You cannot be a gold (guardian) without first experiencing being a bronze and then a silver. In order to be a gold one must possess knowledge of all three parts of the city. This ultimately leaves the best most knowledgeable citizens in charge of the city. The advantage of philosophy in regards to the individual is the balance between all parts of the soul. All parts of the soul are important to understand and the rational helps us inherit the wisdom needed to understand these aspects of the soul. One who constantly indulges in the appetitive portion of the soul will be overcome by it.

When a person posses wisdom they know when a desire is necessary rather than unnecessary. Students and states that pursue philosophy are better off than the ones who don’t because of the level of intelligence they hold. When a student or state has the knowledge of all the levels of either the civic or individual level they’re more likely to excel in their job. Without philosophy there would be no need to extend one’s boundaries and explore the unkown. Socrates was the man in the cave who managed to break free from his chains and see the world beyond the cave.

His accusers, the men still chained inside of the cave, refused to accept what Socrates was trying to show them. If they accepted what Socrates was trying to prove it would be a harsh reality for all they ever knew would diminish. Life outside of the cave is unknown. It’s far less scary to continue their life believing that the shadows on the wall are all that there is. Works Cited Plato, and Benjamin Jowett. The Trial and Death of Socrates: Four Dialogues. New York: Dover Publications, 1992. Print. Plato, H. D. P. Lee, and M. S. Lane. The Republic. London: Penguin, 2007. Print.


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