What is Socrates Belief about the Pursuit of truths by the Critical Methods of Inquiry
Published 12 Apr 2017
The Socratic belief about the pursuit of truths by the critical methods of inquiry is reflected in the implication of the Socratic examination that virtually, “every moral belief becomes false and an incitement to injustice the moment it becomes unquestioned or unquestionable” (Rothman, Barbara Katz 2005, p. 22). Rothman cited that the Socratic Method is consists of dialectic of continuous questioning among critical thinkers that proceed in the spirit of the sifting and winnowing of ideas.
According to Rothman, Socrates suggests that “civic virtue and morals, unaccompanied by intelligence hygiene – by a thinking which dissolves opinions rather – are the invariable accomplices of injustice and immorality” (Rothman, p. 22). Plato’s Apology contains Socrates’ trial and the private conversations in which according to Rachana Kamtekar it “pretends to be the speech which Socrates himself gave” (p. 100) in defense against the accusation that he has corrupted the mind of the young Athenians. However, Kamtekar pointed out that it is hard to determine the accuracy of Plato’s Apology due to the lack of “precisely comparable surviving text” (p. 100). In Plato’s Apology, Socrates used rhetoric to find the answer for a riddle given by his friend, whether there was someone in Athens who was wiser than him. Socrates then made an enquiry by asking questions with the men of
Athens about their knowledge of good, beauty and virtue. Finding that no one among the men he questioned had knowledge he concludes that he is wiser only because he knew that he knew nothing (Socrates).
Socrates belief about the pursuit of truth in Plato’s Apology by the critical methods of inquiry is clearly reflected by his conclusion on his findings about the answer to the question whether someone was wiser than him. He has done an enquiry and concluded based on his findings. When he was sentenced to death by drinking a poison, he turned down the pleas of his disciples to escape although he has opportunity to do so because he believes that the individual citizen can be completely subjected to the possibility of being accused of crimes by his fellow citizens and be found guilty of the charge. Socrates believes that the individual citizen is under contract with the laws of city he chose to live and by escaping would be contrary to his own teachings and principles.
Thus, it appears that Socrates conclusion that he knew that he is wiser because he knew that he knew nothing as compared to the prominent men of Athens, who had resorted to inducing charges against him upon realizing their inferior knowledge, has to do with his belief about the pursuit of truth. The implication of this was that truth is a can be obtain trough critical inquiry on the available resources. What is needed is the determination to seek for an answer to the particular questions relating to the subject. It was for this reason that Socrates was willing to face death rather than escape it.
- Kamtekar, Rachana Plato’s Euthyphro, and Crito UK: Rowman & Little field Publishers, 2005
- Rothman, Barbara Katz Weaving a Family USA: Beacon Press, 2005.
- “Socrates” http://schools-wikipedia.org/wp/s/Socrates.htm