In Book VI, Socrates discusses several different topics such as practical wisdom, art, philosophical wisdom, political wisdom, wisdom, and knowledge, but the topic most intriguing to me is the idea of practical wisdom. Continue reading
In Friday’s class, there was a discussion on the different elements that make up happiness or “eudaimonia.” Some of these components included the “measures of health: courage, wisdom, piety, moderation and justice, along with moral character and external characteristics.” Discussion also led into Socrates’ insistence on knowledgeability in academic regards as a key to happiness and virtuosity. I agree with Socrates in the sense that knowledge is truly important and with more wisdom comes the ability to make better decisions and in some light live a happier life. However, I do not necessarily agree that academic prowess leads to a happier life for every individual.
The role of “perplexity” is an important concept to grasp because it serves as the basis for why people continually seek to gain knowledge. The confusion brought upon by being taught a certain subject but not being able to fully understand it creates the perplexity complex and forces people to try and learn just what it is they are perplexed about and as a result, gain knowledge by obtaining missing information. For example, in the text, Socrates attempts to break down this perplexity when he says “I still want the two of us to try to find out what [being good] is” (80d). The perplexity is represented by the state of what it means to be good and it plays the role of encouraging Socrates and Meno to figure it out. Therefore, perplexity influences the increase of knowledge by creating a window of unknown that has yet to be discovered and learned.
In Plato’s Republic Socrates’ character states that people are better off restricting themselves to one craft than practicing many(Republic 370b). He makes several comments of this nature, going so far as to insist that a person should, “stick to [his trade] for life, and keep away from other crafts so as not to miss the opportunities to practise his own craft well”(Republic 374c). Interestingly enough, there is a slightly-more-modern- than-Plato figure of speech which basically sums up the idea that a person with many skills is not necessarily outstanding at any one skill: “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Although the question of many trades versus one was not brought up as part of the education of the guardians(it was only made relevant to the formation of the city), I think it is important to our classroom discussion on education. Should education be broad or focused? Continue reading
In Meno, Socrates gives several examples of fathers who worked their hardest to try and teach their sons how to be good. However, the teachings do not work. (Meno, 94a-e) Then, Socrates says that teaching cannot be taught. Well, I disagree. As children are growing up, they pick up habits from their parents and family, who are the principal people that teach them. Whatever children are being taught to do is what they will do unless they choose not to. You see, in my opinion, being good boils down to a choice- whether or not you will follow the habits and teachings of the people closest to you or not.
There are four types of outcomes that people can choose based on the habits of their parents: good habits from parents = good habits from children, bad habits from parents = bad habits from children, good habits from parents = bad habits from children, and finally, bad habits from parents = good habits from children. Parents can teach their children habits that are either good or bad, and children can learn from those habits and decide which habits they want to continue doing for the rest of their life. In society today, there are two different types of stories that are frequently heard. The first is the story about the parents that give their children a fabulous upbringing and are nurturing and caring, and their child(ren) end up making a mess of their life by practicing bad habits. The second is the story about a child who had a rough start in life (like the deadbeat parent, the “always drunk” parent, the abusive parent, or the uncaring/unsupportive parent) and made it a goal to become successful and, by practicing good habits, achieved that goal.
Everything about a person’s character, which determines if they are good or not, depends on the choices that he or she makes. It is not a matter of you not being receptive to good things that causes you to be a bad person, but a matter of if you decide to be receptive to the things that you were taught, whether they be good or bad.
In an age in which freedom of expression is revered as an undeniable right, Socrates’ suggestions about education in The Republic seem to violate the basic principles of liberty and freedom. “Then we must first of all, it seems, supervise the storytellers. We’ll select their stories whenever they are fine or beautiful and reject them when they aren’t,”(377c) suggests Socrates. A modern-day person will most certainly brand this as unwarranted censorship. However, I believe that modern-day educators can learn something important from Socrates.
Childhood is a critical period in a person’s development. Values, principles, and habits developed in this period persist throughout a person’s lifetime. According to Socrates, “it’s at that time that it is most malleable and takes on any pattern one wishes to impress on it.”(377b) A child’s moral sense is not fully developed; he or she sometimes cannot distinguish the good from the bad. Consequently, it is completely logical and reasonable to expose children to the good and justice, and deny them access to the bad and evil. With the advent of the Internet, children can easily access billions of webpages, images, and videos. A child can easily pick up any bad habit or principle off the Internet; the opportunities are endless. As a result, carefully censoring the Internet for children is a necessity.
To rid the world of evil, you don’t work with adults who have already developed their values and principles, but with children who are developing theirs. The world would be a much better place if every single child was raised in an environment that promotes justice and goodness.
At this time last year, I was struggling to complete my college applications. I was was prompted to ask myself: what was I good at? What should I apply myself to? What would be my role in society? I didn’t know what to respond.
Socrates, on the other hand, has an answer these questions Continue reading
In “Book II” of Plato’s, Republic, Socrates discusses what it means to be “just” with Adeimantus using the analogy of a city to create a powerful image of being “just.” As the analogy of the city begins to grow, Socrates discusses what it takes to create a “just” and well functioning city beginning with the jobs Continue reading
In Book II and Book III of the Republic, Glaucon and Socrates discuss the implication of justice and how education can help create a model citizen who could identify what is just. Continue reading
Are people born with an inclination to do a certain job? Plato (through Socrates) believes this is the case (370b-c). He says, “one man is naturally fitted for one task, and another for another.” This means that fate determines what your profession will be before you ever set foot in school. If you don’t do this job, you are not being the best that you can be.