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Virtue & Happiness According to Socrates

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Man himself is the standard to determine the values appropriate according to circumstances. The Sophists recognised the power of speech and called it as ‘logos’ . Here speech (logos) is having powerful effects to control the human emotions like distress, delight ,fear etc. ,that was why, they used to teach how to pursue the people with the power of speech(logos) .The Sophists considered the logos as a virtue (arete). Logos is the logic behind an argument which tries to persuade an audience using logical arguments and evidences in support. It was a method of persuasion used in writing and rhetoric.

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Socrates was a great philosopher of Greece .Before Socrates Greeks were engaged in metaphysical inquiries (God,Soul etc). Socrates had great impact of the misery of Peloponnesian war. He had seen the brutality and sabotage of the war .So he was eager to determine the best way to live life , merits of morality over immoral actions in spite of seemed losses. Socrates sought to establish the answer whether happiness lies with the fulfilment of one’s desires or it belongs to a virtuous activity of disregarding the worldly pleasures. According to Socrates happiness is the goal of life and it lies in the hands of an individual. A person can secure happiness by his efforts. Socrates’ happiness is not meant as the physical pleasure, it is a divine like spiritual state of inner peace that is unaffected by worldly objects. This state can be achieved having controlled the bodily desires and harmonizing the different parts of the soul.

Socrates was concerned to determine two principle points:

  1. The end (goal) of all the people is unconditional happiness (good).
  2. Happiness (end desire) does not depend on external objects , but rather on how these objects are instrumental to achieve this end or used in a manner to obtain this.

Here the external objects pertain to any quality , physical appearance, bodily power or money or the things which are always desirable. For example, a wise man will use money in proper manner and make his life happy, but a fool and ignorant man will misuse it and ends up even worse than before. Similarly physical beauty and intelligence can be misused in manipulation and wrongdoings.

Socrates was arduously engaged to search the right knowledge and eradication of ignorance. The Socrates method to reveal the ignorance ,and acquiring knowledge in the process of questioning made him the wisest man of his time .This method of questioning produces self knowledge. This method dispels out the prejudices ,hearsay and wrong logics producing vanity, conceit and wrong beliefs to preserve the self identity and personal ego.

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According to Socrates, ”an unexamined life is not worth living”. In his method of questioning the fundamental principle is knowing that he knows nothing . He says ,wisdom gives direction towards happiness .Virtue and happiness are inseparable .The pleasure from pursuing virtue and knowledge are of higher quality than that from satisfying mere animal desires. According to him, people wrongly consider the pleasure as an end ,but rather it is an integral part in the exercise of virtue in life. It is a satisfaction and inner peace to act virtuously.

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Virtue & Happiness According To Socrates. (2020, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from
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