Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In Which I (start) Get to the Point

So, up to this point this has not been a "study blog". It has been a "reflection blog" and that is intolerable. So. Let us study. The subject: Ancient philosophy. The purpose: Not failing the midterm. Which is tomorrow. Included are study guide questions and my responses.

Elenchus is the method of coming to good belief. If our thinking is 'good' then it can stand in the face of intense scrutiny. We call this scrutiny "Elenchus" and it's the sieve that we run our ideas through. The only thing that can make it through to the other side is good ideas.

Divine Command Theory (both as it is found in the Euthyphro, and as it remains a problem for contemporary philosophical and theological ethics.
Is goodness good because god wills it so, or is it good because there's some virtue of goodness. The first makes goodness arbitrary and based on the flip of gods coin, the second makes god subject to the rules of morality which eliminates gods omnipotence (since he's not powerful enough to disregard the rules of morality while still being omnipotent).

Epistemic Humility (what it is, its advantages, where it is exhibited in Plato’s writings, what it entailed for Socrates’s rank among humans, etc.)
'I know that I know nothing'. It makes you responsible for criticizing your beliefs to see if you really should hold it. It shows up in all the dialogues to some degree when he says "oh, well I'm not sure about all that. what do I think? I'm not sure. But what do you think again" (see: phaedo, euthyphro, apology)

Views of Death (cf. Apology, Crito, Phaedo)
It's not bad. It's either eternal sleep or a place where you go to hang out with dead people. (Crito). Also, death isn't worse than living a life not worth living.

The most important thing for Socrates (Not just life, but the good life. Why does he say this?)
The unexamined life is not The point of existence is to posit and reason. Robbing life of that makes it terrible.

How do we know if we’re living the good life? (Unexamined life?)
We have our tools. Elenchus. Epistemic humility. We use these to make sure we're holding ourselves accountable.
Why did Socrates refuse to let Crito break him out of jail?
Expulsion from Athens is a rejection of the social contract one enters into with their government. Also, saying that he's just and running away from the ruling of his people is hypocritical.

Social Contract ideas. Justice, etc. Was this a good argument on Soc’s part?
Do we really give the government the right to imprison us just because?

Unity of the Virtues
There must be some overarching "virtue-ness" of the virtues (one of the many). He reduces this to knowledge

“To know the good is to do the good”
We never act against what we know to be good. When we know (or believe) an act is good we try to pursue it.

Weakness of will (akrasia). What is Soc’s view of it? Explain in detail. What do you think?
It doesn't exist. You can't be overcome by the goodness of an act to disregard its inherent (and greater) evil. You merely mismeasure the goodness as being larger than the badness. My position? I don't know. If akrasia does exist and we can do what we don't think is best we get a universe that looks the same as a universe without akrasia.

How does Soc’s position on akrasia relate to his way of viewing the virtues
Unification. Cowardice isn't a separate virtue, it's just a lack of knowledge on how to value bravery.

Is virtue teachable (confer both Protagoras and Meno)
MENO: you need to know what it is first. Also, we don't learn we recall.
PROTAGORAS: Well I wind up saying that it can't be taught because knowledge is a virtue and virtues are inherent (probably), while you say that it can be taught because knowledge can be recalled throught what we established in the meno.

Why can it be said that both Socrates and Protagoras end up sort of contradicting their original positions by the end of the Protagoras?
See above. Protagoras originally says that at the very least we think it can because prisons are based on the notion of reforming (teaching) people virtue. By the end though he says the opposite for reasons spark notes doesn't say. Socrates begins by being doubtful but when he reduces all virtue to knowledge which of course is teachable.

Forms per se vs. Socrates’s search for definitions

How can we look at things which look so drastically different and identify them as the same type of thing? There must be some manner of "thing-ness" which each of them participates in. These are the forms.

Self-predication of the Forms
How can the form participate in thing-ness without being a part of that thing to start with? The form of things must be instances of the things themselves, while also getting their thing-ness from themselves.

3rd-man argument
What's the uniting factor between the form of thing and thing? well some other form. But what about that and another form? ad infinitum. We now have an infinite regress of forms.

Mirror and Pizza chunk metaphors for participation in the forms
Mirror: things which have thing-ness reflect a certain aspect of the form of thing.
Pizza Chunk: things which have thing-ness actually borrow from the form of thing to have that thing aspect.

Psychological Hedonism
psycho- hoosa- what now? The idea that we always go with the option that grants the most pleasure?

Priority of definition
Before we can say what we can do with a concept we must first know what it is.

One over many principle
What's the one aspect of many instances of things that allow us to identify it as a thing regardless.

Paralyzed by elenchus and everything else that socrates goes batshit over.

Paradox of Inquiry (Meno’s Paradox)
If we don't know what it is, how will we know when we find it? When we do know what it is, why did we bother asking?

How Socrates gets out of both sides of it (2-part answer)

1. We all used to be part of a great spirit, the world of the forms.
2. This slave has just learned math without me teaching him. Learning comes from recollecting the form world. That's how we'll remember it.

I will do the best to polish the rest of this thing off tomorrow before the exam.

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