Introduction to Philosophy - Lecture 3
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PHL100 – Lec 3 11-09-26 7:22 PM
Why philosophy came to be in Athens, Greece and not other places.
1) Because they had the only democracy unlike all other Authoritarian
societies. (Anyone could argue your opinions, and propose laws)
2) Athens had been drawn into many military conflicts and won most of
them. As a consequence, Athens became very wealthy.
To become wealthy, you needed to speak well. If you wanted to learn how to
speak well. A group of people who taught people how to speak well came to
be and charged a fair price for it. This group came to be known as the
Sophists. Then came Socrates.
Socrates seemed to be like Sophists because he too questioned traditional
values. He took an additional step in saying “We should raise questions, how
to act and how to live and examine them.”
Socrates always claimed he didn’t know anything (Socratic Ignorance) but
he questioned others.
‘The unexamined life is no worth living’ – Socrates
Socrates: The Apology
[i] What made Socrates distinctive, unlike any of the Sage or Sophists or
others around? According to ancient testimonies, he was distinctive in at
least seven was:
1. Socrates was notorious for pressing the “what-is-X?” question,
specifically to inquire into the nature of moral virtue (usually a
particular moral virtue).
2. Socrates’s approach, the ‘Socratic Method’ (known technically as
the ‘elenchus’), was to cross-examine his interlocutors about their
beliefs, usually on moral matters, to judge their soundness.
Typically meant to be a cooperative venture, it often ended without
3. Likewise, ‘Socratic Iron’ is a standard phrase.
4. ‘Socratic Ignorance’: Socrates always maintained that he did not
know anything, or that the only thing he knew was that he knew
nothing, or that he knew nothing value, or that he knows what he
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