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Socrates and the Sophists had different views of reality and morality.

Elaborate on these views and how the sophists and socrates came to their conclusions.
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher (469399 BC). Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics. He was a man of principle who believed that morality was the best way to live life and the way to behave while Sophists eliminate morality: Might is right. They denote a general wisdom. The sophist is not concerned with truth and justice, but instead seeks power. Socrates claimed to know one thing which is that he knows nothing. This is known as socratic irony. He used to ask questions about virtues like Justice, love and courage which would raise suspicion in the Athenians. He believed that knowledge leads to virtue and so knowing what good is makes you behave in a good way. This is known as moral optimism. For him knowledge is desired for its own sake and not for instrumental purposes like the Sophists. Socrates believed in the truth and he believed he would obtain the truth from asking questions. He saw virtue as knowledge. He thought how can one act virtous if one does not know what justice is. To Socrates, the body with all its needs was an obstacle in the "search for knowledge," and never gives us an accurate account of anything. That no two people will ever hear or see the same thing in an identical way and consequently, will never perceive sensory information in the same way either. Socrates' contention was that human beings cannot rely on their senses in any way as a source for knowledge because information from them varies. Knowledge to Socrates was never changing, but concrete, eternal and international. He thought that we will never learn the reality and truth of anything if we continue to rely on our senses. Socrates would give an example to prove his point: if you put a straight stick halfway in the water, it will look bent. Take it out, it looks straight again. Is the stick really straight? Our senses try to trick us. Socrates claimed that in another life, our souls existed with the Forms
Name: Luana Borg Group: 3B

in the real world and from participating with them, our souls gathered all of the knowledge that is possible to possess. Perhaps due to trauma of our births, we lose most everything we learned in the other world. But recognition is possible. For example, we will be able to understand that an object is triangular, because all triangular objects participate in the Form of Triangularity. He believed that words are linked to reality for example a table is called that since it is not anything else. It seemed to him self-evident that if men could be brought to see this truth therefore reality, they would automatically choose the right. All that was necessary was to make them take the trouble to find out what the right is. Hence his second famous saying, that no one does wrong willingly. If virtue is knowledge, vice is only due to ignorance. Socrates view of morality is referred to as Moral Realism. One feature of Socrates view of morality is that the properties of good and evil are as real as anything else in the world. Many people in the modern world think that the fundamental physical properties of the world which are studied by natural science are real but then believe that moral properties such as good and evil are simply human inventions. For Socrates and for many other ancient Greeks as well, morality was seen as more than a matter of human convention. Its not just that people will call you a bad person or think of you as a bad person if you commit evil deeds. You are, in fact, a bad person if you commit evil deeds. This remains true even if no one ever discovers your dirty deeds. On the contrary Sophists view of knowledge was subjective and their stress on the relativity of truth undermined morality. This scepticism about the possibility of knowing the truth led Sophists to teach that there was no infallible guide for human action beyond the principle of selfinterest. They were interested in practical knowledge and were connected to politics. They lacked a belief in the truth as they believed that culture or a person is the determinant of the truth: man is the measure of all things. Here there is some kind of contradiction since if truth is relative how can one tell if the statement is true itself. Sophists are responsible for preaching theories about immorality. They preached about this

Name: Luana Borg

Group: 3B

in order to improve their power and this was believed to lead to moral chaos according to Plato. They saw virtue as a way of success. They claimed to know everything since they had the tactic to make an argument in favour or against any claim and arguments become like a game or a battle where winning or losing is at stake and rhetorical skills become a definitive universal tool. They eliminated morality because they believed that we do the things we do only because we are afraid of the consequences and not because we have morality. For them value is relative: if something seems right/good to you, it is right/good for you. No gap between reality and appearance. Sophist saw Virtue as a second-best option. They believed that the very best option was prosperous immorality. Moral norms are social constructs, purely conventional. The Sophists were very practical, and kept their feet firmly planted on the ground in the "real world." Due to the denial of the existence of unchanging, permanent truth or reality, the world is dissolved and reduced to only appearance or phenomena. In Platos terms, Sophists stressed the importance of appearance over reality, opinion over knowledge, or eradicated their distinction since the world is theoretically limited to appearance in sophist worldview. All in all Socrates is very different from sophists both in the aspect of morality and even in that of reality. Socrates believed that reality is obtained from knowledge while Sophists denied it and stated that a person determines the truth/reality from his opinion. The aspect of Morality according to Socrates was the good way to live your life as no one harms others while Sophists eliminated morality one of the reasons being as one does not do wrong not because he would harm others by it but because he would get caught and then be punished.

Name: Luana Borg

Group: 3B

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