Socrates was a Greek philosopher who is considered one of the founders of Western philosophy. Plato and Xenophon, two of his students, portrayed his ideas in their works. The discussions in the writings were used to gain a better understanding of the issues at hand. He was known for constantly questioning authority during his time because he had his own beliefs backed up by logical explanations that contradicted the authorities’ rules (Parkinson, 14). Various concepts in the subject were introduced by Socrates and other philosophers such as Descartes. Some philosophical issues will be discussed in this paper. According to Socrates, one must not need the opinion of the popular on moral matters He believed that vices and virtues are found in our souls. The human soul is more important than the body or other external factors such as the population around us. The quality of one’s soul is the determinant of a person’s moral behavior. Socrates argued that it is necessary that we place the highest priority to our souls meaning that we have to acquire virtues because they perfect our souls and lead our lives to a better direction (Woozley, 15). He was determined to acquire moral wisdom regardless of the popular opinion as he believed that knowledge of what is good or bad came from within and not from the external factors. His behavior of constantly questioning things led to him being charged before a court of corrupting young men and not believing in the Olympian gods.
The court found him guilty and convicted him to death. He accepted the fairness of the laws of his trial and conviction. The conviction was made for the good of the public. Socrates graciously accepted his fate and this maintained his dignity and left his friends with integrity to continue promoting his work. If he escaped as was suggested by Plato, he would be wrong (Parkinson, 55). This is due to the fact that his escape would show cowardice contrary to his teachings and arguments. It would reflect poorly on his reputation and that of those who would help him escape. His death brought an impression of martyrdom of a man who firmly stood with his principles till the very end.
If God exists, murder is highly immoral. Believing in the existence of God means believing in the morals of humanity and forgiveness. Therefore, murder of a fellow human shows inconsistency with the beliefs (Descartes, 22). Regardless of whether one is a believer of the existence of God or an atheist, it is immoral and unacceptable to commit murder no matter the reasoning used. Death causes pain and sadness to families and therefore its aftermath is just negativity. Murder does not justify whether one will go to heaven or hell.
People who do not believe in God can be moral. Morality is a universal principle that guides human life in differentiating between good and bad deeds. Sometimes, these principles are naturally instilled into us and faith in a religion is not necessary to execute these morals. For instance, Socrates did not believe in God but was highly moral. Moral disagreements are bound to happen due to the differences in people’s religious beliefs. It is possible for people with different religious practices to come to an agreement on how to resolve a moral disagreement (Woozley, 69). One method would involve coming up with modest conciliatory policies which are considerate of all the religious groups involved. Involving representatives from the religious groups during negotiations aids in coming up with practical solutions to these disagreements.
Whether if a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around to hear it, if it makes a sound is a philosophical puzzle that is an epistemological problem. It raises questions on observation and perception. It brings forth the issue of unperceived existence (Woozley, 10). Epistemology deals with how our minds are related or connected to reality. It is necessary in order to gain insights on the world around us. This philosophical issue is concerned with how sound which is sensory experience is related to reality.
John Locke’s view on this epistemological problem is that falling of a tree in the forest with no one around to hear it would mean that it will not make any sound. According to Locke, sound is a secondary sensory quality and is just a sensation in the brain. He argues that every single thing that gets into one’s mind comes from one source, which is experience. Further he describes an idea as the perception in the mind. He believes that there primary and secondary qualities in objects. Primary characteristics are intrinsic whereas secondary qualities are the causal powers that lead to sensations such as colors and sounds (Parkinson, 103). The perception of secondary qualities gives the mind ideas. That is why Locke believes that sound is a sensation in the mind and not in the external world.
In the movie the matrix, Neo has the choice between a red pill which will remove him from the matrix and the blue pill which leave him there. He chose the red pill which reflects reality over the Matrix. Rene Descartes argued about the idea of reality and approached his knowledge using a skeptical perspective. He introduced his method of doubt about skepticism and this is reflected when Neo chose the red pill in The Matrix. Additionally, in one of Plato’s stories, he describes a dark cave where people are chained from early ages. Their view of reality is based on the cave and not the real world out there, they do not even realize that they are prisoners (Descartes, 45). In The Matrix, Neo’s decision was the beginning of his increasing understanding that there is more and more to learn so as to know the reality of skepticism.
The mind-body problem is also another philosophical issue portrayed in The Matrix. In the movie, it is possible to make a conscious or self-aware machine. Moreover, the mind can exist without presence of the mind and vice versa. According to Descartes, the mind and body are two different substances that have the ability to exist apart from each other. He argues that it is possible to make a body for machines and create intelligence via a computer (Descartes, 87). However, it is not possible to create a mind for a machine because it not a physical element.
Whether morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good or are morally good because of being willed by God is a philosophical issue leading to the Euthyphro dilemma. It also relates to The Command Theory of morality which proposes that the status of an action on morality depends on whether it is ordered by God (Woozley, 4) For a person to be moral he has to follow God’s commands. God made man in his own image so as to conform His morality. According to the theory, as humans we must believe in God’s existence so He can help us satisfy moral laws.
The philosophical implications of the Euthyphro dilemma are the opinions of different groups of people. Theists argue that morally good acts are willed by God. This is because they are morally good. However this belief is faced with the independence problem. On the other hand, if morally good acts are good morally because they are willed by God, then it is argued that there is no reason to worship God or care about His goodness (Woozley, 6). This leads to the problem of emptiness and arbitrariness.
Descartes understood doubt as the contrary of certainty. He innovated the method of doubt by exercising fantasy in his work. He also negated all existence so as to prove skepticism. He examined the belief system by investigating the beliefs with foundations that are doubtful. His skepticism doubted things of bodily and universal nature (Descartes, 48). He used skepticism in order to reach certainty. He later tried to refute the skepticism so as to show certainty through rejecting the beliefs which had doubtful foundations.
The use of skepticism led Descartes to the principle of existence of his mind. He found out that it was possible to doubt things that were right in front of him. He could be dreaming or hallucinating about the existence of such things including existence of his body. However, he confirmed existence of his own brain by realizing that he could not doubt it. This because he was doubting the existence of other things and this could only be done using the mind (Descartes, 98). Therefore, it is impossible for us to doubt existence of the mind while in the process of doubting our existence.
This project was important for Descartes to accomplish so that he could prove the existence of his mind without any doubt. Further, he concluded that there was existence of a perfect being, which is God (Woozley, 15). He also accomplished proving that what we perceive is true, this involves the mind’s perception and not senses. His method of doubt is useful in various instances in present life.
Descartes, René. Meditations on first philosophy: in which the existence of God and the distinction between mind and body are demonstrated. Stonewell Press, 2014.
Parkinson, George Henry Radcliffe. An Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge, 2012.
Woozley, Anthony Douglas. “Theory of Knowledge: an introduction.” (2016).