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Socratic Ethics Essay

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By coffeehouse
Words 2643
Pages 11
Ethics is defined as the branch of philosophy with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions. Socrates discusses this many times in his teachings, specifically in the readings, Euthyphro, the Apology, the Crito and the Phaedo. Socrates’ main question was “What is the good life?” and his pursuit was to find out how to live this “good life”. Socrates’ pursuit of the “good life” helped him to identify knowledge with virtue. He equated knowledge with good or virtue and ignorance with bad or evil. Since no one would knowingly harm themselves, if harm came to a person, then that person must have acted in ignorance. This led him to the thought that if knowledge could be learned, so could virtue. This meant that virtue could be taught, so Socrates had conversations with anyone who boasted about being an expert of a certain subject. This would lead him to gain more knowledge (virtue), which in turn would help him in his goal to lead and teach “the good life”. In the Euthyphro, Socrates starts chatting with a man who is in court to prosecute his father for murder. This man, Euthyphro, claims to be an expert on piety (an expert of religious knowledge), and since Socrates is being prosecuted for impiety, he thinks he will learn how to escape prosecution from this expert. Socrates asks Euthyphro for a universal definition of piety, both for his own personal gain (for his defense against the charge of impiety) and also for the benefit of everyone, for knowing the definition of piety would help everyone in the pursuit of living a “good life.” After arguing for some time trying to find a universal definition of piety to no avail, Euthyphro gives up and makes an excuse to walk away from the conversation. This is showing the ethics of Socrates…...

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