Comparing the great philosophers

Socrates was a Greek philosopher whose contributions to the western philosophy are highly valued. He is considered to have laid the grounds for development of western philosophy.  Socrates did not put down his work in writing therefore most of information about his work is gathered from his student, Plato. Socrates stated that there is need to do what you think is right even when facing total opposition from the people and the need to pursue knowledge even when opposed. His main aim was to educate the people of Athens.

Socrates failed to write anything because he believed that knowledge is gained through living and interacting in the world. Socrates held several discussions with people and his philosophical investigation of the people was through asking them their stand concerning some ideas to an extent of having them contradict their initial stand. This would show these people that what they believed in initially was not true. In the discussion he held with the people, he would cross examine them through which they would think deeply and realize that they do not have any knowledge at all. Socrates believed that he knew nothing about anything.

People regarded Socrates as a teacher but he could not think of himself that way. He did not accept payment for any work he did with his students who were very faithful to him. The parents of his students were not happy with the influence he had on their children and the displeasure was also as a result of his earlier association with the people opposed to the democratic organization which made him appear as a controversial political figure. Socrates philosophical beliefs are complicated since he was fond of asking questions and failing to answer them. His philosophical beliefs can be generalized as being morally, intellectually, and politically in disagreements with the people of Athens. When he was facing trial for corrupting the minds of the youths, he used his method of elenchus to indicate to the jurors that their moral values were wrong.

Plato is considered as the most popular student of Socrates. After the death of Socrates, Plato continued with Socrates work and finally set up his own school which was named the academy. The school became famous during this time and the most famous Platos pupil was Aristotle. Plato wrote a dialogue between Socrates and other people concerning philosophical issues. Platonic dialogues are very similar to those of Socrates which consisted of asking question and then proving through these questions that the other person is wrong on the subject of discussion.

Plato started building his own philosophies while those of Socrates were left for teaching. The primary idea in Platos thoughts was on the theory of ideas or forms. This was in line with the thoughts of other Greek philosophers who placed much emphasis on the change in the physical world. According to Heraclitus, nothing is stable and everything change, but other philosophers later described change, motion, and time as illusion. Plato thought of how these two opposing positions could be brought together and came up with theory of forms.

One of his dialogues which are the most famous is the republic which has had much influence in the western philosophy. Its main focus is on how to live a better life. The dialogue was divided into comparable questions which lingered around justice of the state, an individual, and characteristics of an ideal state.  The dialogue also included how the public could get education, what kinds of artistic works should be promoted, the form of governance and who should be its leader, what divine sanctions and after life should be thought to exist. These questions gave a clear picture of Platos theory of forms.

Saint Thomas Aquinas was an Italian and a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He was also an influential philosopher and a theologian in the tradition of scholasticism. He is mostly referred to as Thomas since the name Aquinas is derived from his residential place. He was the founder of Thomistic school of philosophy and theology. His contribution in western philosophy is extensive and much of modern philosophy was founded as a response against or in harmony with his thought, specifically in the areas of ethics, natural law and political theory.

The philosophy of Aquinas has had a greater impact on the successive Christian theology, and more so that of the Roman catholic church, and going as far as western philosophy where he is regarded as a vehicle and a modifier of Aristotle principles which he combined with those of Augustine. In philosophy, his most important work is the summa theological where he explains into details his systematic theology of the quinque viae. He believed that for one to know the truth, divine intervention is necessary. He believed that intelligent people are moved by God to their actions. He also thought that man have natural ability to know many things without special divine revelations, but such revelations happen each time in issues related to faith.

There seems to be no much difference between Socrates and Plato because most of Socrates works are derived from the writing of Plato.  Socrates believed that knowledge is acquired through interaction with the world and people so there was no need to put knowledge in writings. Plato who was a student of Socrates was influenced by his work and decided to put them into writings. Socrtaes used dialogue method in inquiring peoples stand on certain issues. Through a series of questioning, he would prove to these people that they know nothing in the subject. Plato used the same strategy initially, but later changed to the theory of ideas and forms which focused on justice, ethics and divine power.

Saint Thomas Aquinas based his ideas on divine power since he was a theologian. He believed that knowledge of truth comes through divine power. He believed that intelligence is driven by some divine power. He later contradicted his work by stating that man has a natural ability to know many things without divine revelation but revelations are a must in topics of faith. These philosophers share some similarities.  Both believed in ethics and justice. Plato and Socrates were Greeks and had similar beliefs. They both believed in the natural power of man to have knowledge. Plato and Socrates emphasized on public education. Socrates stated that despite opposition, if you are destined to get knowledge go for it. These people both had school Plato build academy in Athens, Socrates had his students, while Aquinas founded Thomistic School of philosophy and theology.


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