Greek philosophers shared endeavors throughout ages in finding origin of principles and phenomena.
Socrates doesnt have any written account of his ideas so it became difficult to determine exactly what his actual philosophical views were. Moreover, he apparently dealt with ideas and theories studied by his student Plato and Platos student, Aristotle. One of the most important subjects for discussion is the notion of virtue. These three philosophers are all particularly interested with the meaning of life and are looking for ways to make themselves do thing with excellence and have a good life. These concerns are introduced in written dialogues with Socrates as a character. There are attempts to answer complex questions about the meaning of life leading them to another complex questions and arguments. Some of these dialogues are Phaedo, and Meno, both written by Plato. These were names of person to whom Socrates argued the notions of virtue with. On the other hand Aristotle contributed to the discussion with his Nicomachean Theory which is a work discussing the depth of ethics as a form of science and defines the Aristotelian Ethics.

In the Phaedo, Plato was able to make the distinction between forms of virtue such as those which are real having considerations with the importance of knowledge and those which are just conceived by majority of the people. Having similarities with the descriptions in the Republic, virtues was described in the Phaedo to be common and popular if they are just poor copy of true virtues as they are particularly related to knowledge.

Can virtues be taught or not Phaedo discussed the idea of recollection or anamnesis which supported the idea that everything that has to be learned are merely being recollected when a thing was remembered by perceiving equal objects. Recollection has the focus on knowledge in its cognitive stage and shows other cognitive state that can serve as guidance. For example, if there is someone who completely has no knowledge in geometric concepts, it cannot guarantee that he will not be able to solve geometric puzzles and problems as what happened in Socrates experiment. The boy identified the solution proving that there must be something that serves as a guide for recognizing the truth. Reminding requires not just the actual thing but also those things which resemble it. The soul can both acquire and keep the knowledge about forms from the birth but apparently, since forms are not naturally, thus, recollection is the way to gain virtues.

The statements of Meno that leads to situations defying the intuitions allowed Plato to discuss idea of recollection, souls immortality relative to metaphysics, and true opinions cognitive state. Plato introduced the idea of Socrates that anyone who doesnt have the actual knowledge kept a track of true opinions within. These opinions remained far from being knowledge but these will later become.
Plato implied that virtues nature can be discovered and learned in the same way that mathematicians learned mathematical truths. Recollection as a theory shows that everyone has the ability to discover the truth without relying on any definite acquisition process. Ignorance can transition to knowledge when bridged by the existence of true opinions. True opinions are those which are responsible for the foundation of the actual knowledge. Being the root of all knowledge, true opinions remained as part of the persons quality gained from the birth.

1. Steven M. Cahn. Classics of the Western Philosophy. IN (Hacket Publishing Company, Inc. 2002 ), 49-57

In the middle of his conversation with Meno, Socrates told that virtue cannot be defined but since it can be known, it can be taught although, since there is no specific definition for virtue, it remained a question whether it is possible to define the teacher capable of teaching it. Similar in Phaedo, Socrates shared that the soul lives forever and that it has knowledge about everything. He concluded that all knowledge are already present in the soul, therefore, we must always attempt to seek for truth and recollect. All knowledge were already learned from a previous life and then needed to be relearned after the rebirth.

Aside from the argument that virtue can be taught if virtue is considered as knowledge, another important point raised is that the virtues are all good and so, given that the knowledge has everything that is good, then virtue is either knowledge or a part of knowledge. Wisdom should also be equipped for the virtue to be always advantageous or beneficial. Socrates provided wealth and strength as examples of those virtues that needed to be used in a proper way for it to serve in the benefit of others or else, they will only cause troubles. Everyone wants to do well and it is thru acquisition of good things that we can succeed.

Plato addressed primarily the questions about piety in the dialogue Euthyphro. In the quest for the most accurate definition of piety, Socrates had arguments with Euthyphro who gave four personal definitions. First, the latter cited an example of piety as what he had done to prosecute his father for murder. Second, he stated that it is an act of pleasing the God. Third, he considered the liking of Gods as the basis so if an act was loved by Gods, then, it is pious, and if it isnt loved, it isnt pious. And lastly, he told that any just act are pious as they equate the piety in any act resulting to justice.
2. Ibid, 3-19.

Socrates showed no interest in the enumeration of things that are pious and all throughout he tried to carry out the definition in virtue that made pious actions pious. These definitions started with the exchange of greetings between Socrates and Euthyphro and kept on going as Socrates presented arguments for each definition given by Euthyphro. The first definition made Socrates surprised as it pertained to the prosecution of his father which was perceived to be pious by Euthyphro. Lacking fundamental premises, here started the search for the thorough definition of piety.

The dilemma generated in the dialogue raised the question Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods This question has significant difficulty. That piety is what all the Gods love seems to be the most interesting definition given in the dialogue. It shows flaws in its structure since it doesnt give much clarity as it can open further questions related to its interpretations. Gods may love or hate an action relative to its pious characteristics so the definition of Piety cannot be referring solely to its attributes such as the approval of Gods.

Aristotle, a student of Plato and also had attempted to track the origin of virtue, also discussed virtues classifying them into two moral and intellectual. He said that moral virtues are those which are naturally possessed but can be gained by habitual practices. Man cannot become particularly virtuous if he doesnt have the habit of being virtuous. Its basis would be the way of responding to the emotions. Also, the moral responsibility of an individual depends on the will to do such actions thus there will be no moral responsibility if the control over the action is not voluntary. Aristotle cited moral virtues such as modesty, and humility.4
3. Ibid, 20-28.
4. Ibid, 179.

Intellectual virtues are those which are commonly known as wisdom which required acquisition using intelligence by being taught.
Aristotles Nicomachean theory accounted his study on ethics. It has the main purpose of ignoring any kind of extremes of deficiency and excess while moderating them. Moral responsibility needs to be accepted as they were involved as one of the prime considerations in the science of ethics. Pure responsibility on actions required a voluntary choice rather than being produced largely by external forces so if someone is not aware about the harm his actions brought, he or she cannot be held responsible for it.

Aristotle shared a particular way of thinking that assured morality in actions taken. He suggested deliberative reasoning that helps with the analysis on every action which has potential to be done and act in the way that best complement with the desires. He told that there should be alignment between what you desired to do or desired to have with righteous thoughts and end goals.

The aim of every human action has Happiness as its highest good. If the rational soul is doing actions according to virtues such as keeping the extremes moderated by behaving in the most appropriate manner, he can achieve this highest good.


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