Role of Wisdom in True Virtue

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Role of Wisdom in True Virtue
Considered as one of the greatest philosophers of all times, Socrates presented his views and ideas in some of the most critical and contradicting issues within the society. As Socrates never maintained any written record during his lifetime, most of his works were written down by his student Plato. The ideas and philosophical knowledge of Socrates are presented in the form of dialogue that ensured before him and others. Such is the case as Socrates offers an explanation of wisdom’s role in true virtue based on the Meno and Phaedo written by Plato. Socrates asserts that wisdom enables people understand the true virtue and thus with wisdom, one should not fear death.
In the Meno, Socrates engages in a discussion with his student Meno where his student intends to understand whether it is possible to learn virtue. Socrates requests his student to first give the meaning of virtue. The first reply by Meno is a suggestion that varying types of virtues are found in different types of people. However, Socrates is opposed to the reply attributing it as a swarm of bees and asserts that his main interest is the quality of virtue that all people share. From that perspective, it is indicative that Socrates signifies that there is a particular quality of virtue shared by all people. It is from this notion that it becomes clear that Socrates attributes wisdom as important in understanding the quality of virtue that all people share as opposed to the different virtues that exist among different people. Meno then offers a suggestion that deems virtue as a desire for good things. Socrates is opposed to the response from his student arguing that desire for one believes to be good is perfectly universal based on the fact that there is no a single human being while knowing desires a bad thing. Rather, differences in conduct of human beings depict differences of their wisdom (Meno 77e). Unable to offer a clear definition based on Socrates demand, Meno requests his teacher to explain what virtue entails.
In his response Socrates asserts that learning does not entail discovering new things, but rather a recollection of something that the soul understood before birth and forgot later. In order to support his assertion, Socrates invites an uneducated boy and leads him through a sophisticated geometrical demonstration while providing him with careful questions that somehow signifies that the boy has the correct answers individually. The exercise serves as an indication that every person possesses the ability of suddenly realizing the truth of a thing that one was unaware before although it feels as though someone is discovering an entire new thing. Therefore, Socrates attributes recollection as the source of people’s true opinions regarding the most fundamental aspects of reality (Meno 85d). Regarding the notion whether it is possible to teach virtue, it first signifies that virtue is a form of wisdom that is acquirable through education. On the other hand, where it is possible to teach virtue, then it is possible to identify persons that teach and learn from virtue (Meno 96c). Therefore, wisdom in philosophical aspect helps individuals not to accept beliefs that are portrayed as true, but equally possess adequate reasons that support such beliefs.
Support of wisdom in human virtue is further evidenced in the Phaedo where a discussion ensues before Socrates and Cebes and Simmias regarding the attitude of a philosopher towards death (Connoly). Socrates asserts that the importance of wisdom among philosophers is ability to make them possess a willing of dying as it leads to realization of a true virtue. With his interlocutors voicing concerns that Socrates contradicts himself as he had initially argued against a philosopher killing him/herself, Socrates provides a defense of his statement. Socrates first offers a definition of death in order to send his point clear where he attributes death as the separation of the soul and the body, something that his interlocutors agree. As such, it signifies that the soul and the body are two distinct entities. Based on the fact that death is the separation of body and the soul, Socrates moved further to provide a variety of reasons why philosophers need to prepare for such an event. The first reason results from the fact that a true philosopher despises the pleasures of the body that comprise of sex, food and drink signifying that such a philosopher than anybody else wants to free oneself free from the body (Phaedo 64d-65a). Again as the bodily senses are deceptive and equally inaccurate, the search for knowledge by a philosopher is best attained when the soul operates individually.
As such, it is indicative that Socrates attributes the body as a continuous impediment to philosophers in their search for truth. The body fills philosophers with desires, wants, illusions as well as fears together with nonsense. Therefore, there is in no means that the body holds any truth (Phaedo 66c). The statement is supportive of the previous notion provided earlier in Meno that knowledge is held within an individual with the search for knowledge just based on recollection as opposed to learning new things. As such, in order for philosophers to possess pure knowledge, they must escape from the body influence in the best possible means while living. Philosophy serves as a form of training on dying and a purification of the soul of a philosopher from its attachment with the body (Connoly). Therefore, Socrates offer a conclusion that fearing death on the part of a philosopher is unreasonable based on the fact that after dying, there is a likelihood that the philosopher will obtain wisdom that he sought throughout his life. The pursuit of wisdom by a philosopher therefore influences the lack of fear by a philosopher and also the need to separate the body from the soul.
Conclusively, Socrates attributes wisdom as an imperative aspect in understanding the true virtue that is common among all people and consequently, with knowledge, a philosopher should not fear death. The dialogues in the Meno and Phaedo help in exploring the role that wisdom plays in respect to true virtue. It is the search for wisdom that drives philosophers into accepting death since it enables in separating the soul from the body with the soul the single part that has the ability of searching for wisdom as the body is only a distractor. In the Meno, Socrates articulates that understanding mere true opinion and genuine knowledge is the most imperative aspect in understanding virtue and the reason as to why it is impossible to teach virtue.

Works Cited
Connoly, Tim. “Plato: Phaedo | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | An Encyclopedia of Philosophy Articles Written by Professional Philosophers, Accessed 29 Sept. 2016.
Plato. Meno. Cambridge U.P, 1961.
Plato, and Benjamin Jowett. Phaedo. C. Scribner’s Sons, 1990.

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