The Second Lesson of this series will look at some of the major figures in the history of philosophy. The ideas of these individuals have shaped the culture that we live in and saturated the ideas with which we are occupied. If we are to be critical of the poor ideas that engage us in modern times, we should be able to see where these ideas have their foundation.Preview This Lesson
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We will now take a brief look at some of the figures who have shaped the world by their ideas and philosophical systems.
Time Period: 469 BC – 399 BC
Place: Athens, Greece
Major Works: Socrates did not actually write anything down; most of our information about Socrates comes from the work and writings of Plato.
Although there were philosophers before him (called the “Pre-Socrates”), Socrates is generally considered the “Father of Philosophy.” At the time, he was responding to a group of teachers known as “Sophists.” “Sophist” is a Greek term that means “wise man,” although, as we will see, these individuals were anything but wise. Sophistry was a movement in the new Democracy of Greece that focused on the need for good rhetoric and participation in public affairs. These teachers were bogus philosophers because they did not believe in finding the truth; they believed only in winning arguments. Sophists were marked by two tenets: skepticism and relativism. Skepticism means that they did not think anything was knowable, and relativism means that they did not think anything morally was true or good. Remember one of the themes of this lesson — “Old Errors and New Labels.” Skepticism and relativism are two of the main philosophical errors that the Church continues to face to this day. But they are not new: the Sophists espoused these ideas 400 years before Christ.
So, Socrates was responding to these Sophists. He taught that true philosophy is not about “winning arguments,” but about finding the truth. The way that Socrates attempted to find the truth was through dialect (conversation) known as the Socratic Method. Socrates engaged in conversations using the question and answer format as his method of philosophizing. Socrates saw himself as an “intellectual midwife.” A midwife is someone who helps a woman give birth. By the Socratic Method, Socrates saw himself as one who was helping others “give birth” to their new ideas. Definitions were important for him; Socrates always asked people to define their terms. Since terms have a definite meaning, they cannot be relative like the Sophists taught. Socrates also had an unshakable faith in reason. All people have the ability to know the truth with certainty. In the area of ethics, knowledge and virtue were thought of as the same thing — to know the good is to do the good.... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
Philosophy #2 is part of the following course(s):