Socrates and Rationalism (Rationality)

Socrates and Rationalism (Rationality)

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

Socrates is one of the most important philosophers of ancient philosophy. He has no written work. It was his student, Plato, who brought his thoughts to the present day.

Socrates used to wander the streets of Athens in summer and winter, discussing everything with everyone. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He starts from his word and advises that everything should be questioned. He tried to show the people he was discussing that it was wrong to blindly believe in value judgments. According to him, “Virtue is knowledge.” However, not all knowledge is a virtue. Knowledge, which is a virtue, is knowledge that leads people to self-realization and happiness.

Socrates used the dialectical method as a method of discussion. This method is formed on the basis of maiotic (giving birth) and irony (teasing). He used methods according to the characteristics of the people he was discussing. To those who say they know nothing, it shows that they actually know a lot with the maiotic method. He used irony to show those who thought he knew everything that he didn’t really know anything. With his words “There is one thing I know, and that is that I know nothing” and the thirst for learning and knowledge he displayed, he would point out to the people he confronted that they were actually ignorant.

His mother, who was a midwife, had an influence on Socrates’ thoughts. It expresses this as follows; “Just as my mother helps an existing baby to be born, the teacher does not teach his student anything new; but it brings to light the information that exists in his mind. Because information is innate in our minds.” Thus, he argues that certain and generally accepted knowledge exists and that knowledge is innate. In this respect, he appears as a rationalist philosopher.

Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Year 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Year 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook