The Concept of Virtue

For many, the concept of virtue has centered on the heroic code—a soldier going into battle to save the lives of innocent townspeople would be given the purple heart for his valiant actions and virtuous deeds.  For Socrates, the concept of virtue has nothing to do with the ideology of honor and personal courage and instead features a search for wisdom, aside from such human emotions as fear, passion, and pain.  It is because of this that I will argue that Socrates’ concept of virtue is not infallible based upon the very nature of misaligned example that he lectures.

To begin with, Plato’s Phaedo, specifically lines 68-69, begins with Socrates relegating the concept of virtue to a man who studies philosophy.  These men “are in training for dying, and they fear death least of all men” (line 68).  They have yearned for the attainment of wisdom the entirety of their lives and have a succinct understanding of what it would mean to be separated from their body.  More importantly, these men share something in common with the grieving: they have a firm conviction that they will find wisdom and understanding in the underworld, and would go there, without regret and without compromise because they cannot fear what they seek to understand.  This, for Socrates, is an impossibility based upon the very nature of attaining wisdom.

With this being the case, any man “you see resenting death was not a lover of wisdom but a lover of the body, and also a lover of wealth or of honors, either or both” (line 68b-c).  Even men who are brave on the exterior do not have the sensibilities of the philosopher and will face death with fear.  This determines that “it is fear and terror that make all men brave, except the philosophers.  However, it is illogical to be brave through fear and cowardice” (line 68d).  In many ways, there is no logical reason for any sort of exchange and indeed “the only valid currency for which all these things (pleasure, pain, fear) should be exchanged is wisdom” (line 69).  Philosophers do not possess bravery for they have nothing to fear.

For Socrates, no man faces death without fear, unless he studies philosophy, and therefore seeks to gain wisdom.  A man that studies philosophy is someone who seeks to free himself from the bodily limitation that hinders him from finding true knowledge. Self-sacrifice implies these ideas; the body is merely a physical hindrance to attain real knowledge. Sacrificing one’s body to attain knowledge is something that could be regarded as a virtuous act. A virtuous act done without wisdom is acting without thinking and is therefore, a type of popular virtue as opposed to thinking before acting or acting with wisdom, which is a form of true virtue. This was the reasoning behind Socrates' acceptance of death. Socrates explained that “he is firmly convinced that he will not find pure knowledge anywhere except there” (line 68-b).

Based on the discussion between Simmias and Socrates, a philosopher is in search of true knowledge, which could only be achieved in the afterlife because the body limits the soul. With this in mind, it implies that true knowledge is not found in the material world, but it could be achieved once a person dies. The body seems to be a hindrance that prevents man/philosopher from being virtuous. It could be derived from the fact that the body has several needs and limitations. For example, the body needs to sleep, eat, and drink, which could distract the attainment of knowledge and therefore, prevent a person from attaining true virtue.

Looking closely at certain virtues would enlighten this perspective better. For instance, respect for others is a tradition. People learned to respect others through imitation of their elders’ actions or through indoctrination, cultural traditions or as imposed by someone with authority. Respect is acquired through habit; this is considered as a form of popular virtue, while disrespect is a form of vice. In popular virtue, the person acts virtuously without understanding. True virtue is acting with wisdom, although wisdom could not be perfected because of bodily limitation, through philosophy, Socrates implies that one could get closer to it.

Overall, in Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates’ concept of virtue is hardly irrefutable.  At the beginning of his argument, he compares the philosopher to the grieving man, because both would view death in the same light: that only in their own deaths would they find the answers that they might be seeking.  While Socrates is right that those who grieve might look upon their own deaths as the answer to some lost solution, they are hardly similar to the philosopher who would understand the significance behind sacrificing one’s soul in a personal quest for wisdom and knowledge.  The grieving man could be unafraid of death for a number of other reasons without being virtuous. For that matter, how would facing death without fear or confusion be a sound explanation for anything?  Socrates’ arguments are hard to challenge but it is also hard to prove because it is concerned about virtues that could be achieved by the soul which are abstract concepts.


Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy by the removal of the fetus from the uterus (Marquis, 1989). This action results in the cause of death to the fetus. However, abortion can sometimes occur spontaneously as a result of complications of the pregnancy. Most times, abortion is induced due to a number of reasons, sometimes done in order to preserve the health of the mother and this is termed as therapeutic abortion. In most instances, abortion has been induced for other reasons apart from the health reasons; this is termed as elective abortion (Marquis, 1989). There are a number of philosophical debates that have arisen as to whether abortion is morally right or wrong. There are a number of different philosophical arguments that have been presented by different individuals. Some argue that abortion is morally right while others have presented opposing views on why abortion is morally wrong. Hence, abortion has been a centre of debate among philosophers. Though various arguments have been put forward to support abortion, I disapprove of abortion basing on the moral principles and the principle of being just and fare.

Defense of abortion
    The opposition to abortion has, among most philosophers relied on the preposition that the fetus is a human being. It has been claimed that the fetus becomes a person from the moment of conception (Thomson, 1971). We are therefore inclined to think that the fetus has already become a human being. This is because, by the tenth week, the fetus already has a face, arms and legs, fingers and toes, other internal organs and an activity of the   brain. The premise therefore that the fetus is not a person is false (Thomson, 1971). However, most of the opponents of abortion have always relied on the fact that the fetus is a person and others who defend have always claimed that the fetus is not a person but rather a bit of tissue that will later develop in to a person at birth. It is therefore notable that these arguments are farfetched. To defend abortion, it is better to have a clear understanding of both sides. As far as rights are concerned, it is agreeable to all that every person has a right to life and therefore, the fetus has a right to life (Marquis, 1989). On the other hand; the mother also has a right to decide what shall happen to and in her body. But then, the person’s right to life is far much stronger than the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body and thus abortion may not be performed.

As far as this is concerned, abortion is morally impermissible, but, supposes an individual wakes up one morning and finds himself having been kidnapped in order to safe an ailing famous individual by donating an organ like a kidney (Thomson, 1971). The ailing individual’s circulatory system has been plugged in to the body of the kidnapped. If the system is unplugged, it would mean that the famous ailing man would die. If the system has to be in the body for about nine months till the ailing man recovers, who would agree? However, every person has a right to life and on the other hand, also has a right to decide what happens in and to their bodies. In this case, an individual was kidnapped and thus did not volunteer. If this is compared to abortion, would the opponents of abortion make an exception on grounds of pregnancy resulting from rape? Certainly, they would make an exception. Now, if we consider a case whereby the mother has to spend nine months of her pregnancy in bed, the opponents of abortion would agree that it would be very hard on the mother, but, all the same, all persons have a right to life, the fetus is a person and therefore, it has a right to life. What if, the pregnancy was to miraculously go on for nine years, or the rest of the mother’s life, certainly again, they would make an exception (Thomson, 1971). Suppose a woman has become pregnant and is diagnosed with a cardiac condition and as such, she will die if she continues to carry the pregnancy. What would be done in such a case considering that, the fetus being a person has a right to life? Presumably, both the mother and the fetus have equal right to life. However, the mother as a person too, has a right to decide what happens to and in her body. What will happen then if abortion is not performed? should we flip a coin to decide who dies? If we add the mother’s right to life to her right to decide what happens in and to her body, then the sum of the mother’s rights outweighs the fetus’ right to life.

If abortion is performed, it would be directly killing an innocent person which is absolutely impermissible (Marquis, 1989). Directly killing and innocent person is murder and is absolutely impermissible. Then if one’s duty is to refrain from directly killing a person, then abortion may not be performed. Then if one’s only option is to decide between directly killing a person and letting a person die, one would prefer letting a person to die and hence abortion may not be performed. It therefore depicts that the opponents of abortion has treated the right to life as if it was unproblematic. It is not and this has been precisely the source of the mistake made by the opponents of abortion. In some view, having a right to life includes having a right to be granted that right (Thomson, 1971). Then it means that the fetus has not been given the right to have a right to life and hence abortion can then be performed. Some people are rather strict on the right to life. In this view, it does not include the right to be given anything but rather to and only to the right to life and not be killed by anybody. But considering the ailing man, granting him the right to life would mean allowing him to continue using an individual’s kidney while he had no right at all in the first place. In the same case, the fetus has no right to continue in the mother’s womb while it had no right to be there in the first place especially in the case of pregnancy resulting from rape. In the case of health reason, wouldn’t it be wise to terminate the fetus in order to protect the mother from danger? Given the reason that an individual has a /right to defend himself against any danger, so does the mother and hence abortion may be performed. Hence the argument of the right to life would only give the fetus the right if the pregnancy resulted from a voluntary act (Thomson, 1971).

Why abortion is morally wrong

While other philosophers argue that abortion is permissible, it has been met with opposition on the basis of the morality of abortion. This argument on the immorality of abortion has been based on a major assumption on the wrongfulness to kill an infant, a small child or an adult (Marquis, 1989). Therefore, if the fetus is a human being, then is it morally right to kill the fetus? A typical abortionist will argue that life presents itself from the moment of conception and further that the fetus possesses both the necessary and sufficient genetic code essential for a human being. On the other hand, the pro-choice will then argue that fetuses are not persons or social beings. Therefore, the arguments on abortion requires not only some claim characteristics fetuses but also some basic moral principle that ties the fetus to having or not having the right to life. This argument should also be based on some other moral principle that will generate the obligation or lack of obligation not to end the life of a fetus (Marquis, 1989).

The pro-choicer attempt to find the moral principle that concerns the wrongfulness of killing. It is always prima facie wrong to take the life of a human being (Marquis, 1989). Then if the fetus is a human being, then abortion is morally wrong as it is absolutely morally wrong to kill an adult. On the other hand, the anti-abortionists depict the fetus as a human being and thus should be granted the right to life (Marquis, 1989). If depriving an adult this right to life, then is abortion morally right considering that the fetus is a human being? Most opponents of abortion have considered the unproblematic assumptions on our own case. This has posed the question; is it wrong to kill us? And why is it wrong? It could then be argued that what makes killing us wrong is the great loss others would experience as a result of our absence. More over, it is obvious that what primarily makes killing wrong is neither the effect of the murderer not is it the effects on the victim’s friends but rather, its effect on the victim. It is therefore morally wrong to kill because it deprives one of the future experiences or activities the victim would have enjoyed (Marquis, 1989). Therefore killing is wrong because it inflicts the victim with the greatest possible loss. On the other hand, the change in a biological state of an individual whether a fetus, child or an adult does not does not make killing morally wrong but depriving the individual of the future could be devastating and hence morally wrong. The complete account of the wrongfulness of killing is the aspect of not having the value of future-like-ours and the wrongness of abortion and its consequences. If we consider the people in nursing homes, they may be lacking valuable human futures, yet it is morally wrong to kill them for one reason or another. Same goes to the fetus, if it is morally wrong to kill an old individual in the nursing home, with less future value, then it is also morally wrong to kill a fetus with valuable future activities and experiences. Therefore, the analysis can be viewed by resolving the standard problem concerning the ethics of abortion (Marquis, 1989). Clearly, it is wrong to kill an adult human being and it is also wrong to end a life of an arbitrary chosen human cell. Since fetuses seem to be arbitrary chosen human cells, then abortion is morally wrong.

The moral agency has a dual aspect that has manifested itself in both power to refrain from behaving inhumanly and the proactive powered to behave humanly (Bandura, 2002). It is embedded in the broader socio-cognitive self-theory that encompasses the affective self-regulatory mechanism.  The moral function is thus governed by the mechanism of moral conduct (Bandura, 2002). This moral conduct is evident in most arguments of the right to life and the characterization of the fetus as human beings (Bandura, 2002). Behaving inhumanly disengages an individual from acting in a morally acceptable manner and thus evident in the killing of the unborn babies.

    Based on the arguments, both sides of the debate have set their views on the defense or opposition of abortion. In this case, I would therefore oppose abortion basing on the moral factors of the right to life. It is therefore imperative to consider other reasons as to why abortion is wrong and morally unacceptable in all instances. If we are to use the principle of being just, then is it not fare enough to give to those who have had less? Therefore, if the mother’s life is at stake, wouldn’t be better for the mother to die because she has had a share of her life?

Objections to Time Travel

This paper will focus on time travel objections of which I will narrow on to, you can’t change the past objection. By so doling I will be siding with metaphysical heirs who think that truth and reality are eternal and stable. Time travel has been described as the departure from a certain location at a given time to an earlier time but at the same place. This is termed as a B-movie scenario which has been strongly opposed by the physical theory which states that time can only flow in one direction. Time travel into the past is concomitant with time travel into the future. Therefore, by looking at time travel into the past, I cannot fail to link it with the future (Greg 55-70).

Time travel has been perceived as an impossible event as it would make it possible for one to change the past. Tim’s journey does not necessarily involve transforming the past. This is because it is very difficult to change the past as it is to change the future. According to Smart, it would not be rational if one talked of changing the future as it would also make no sense if one talked about the about changing the past. While looking at the past, we focus on what has already happened but when we look at the future; the focus is on what is likely to happen. In both facets, nothing can be done as one has no control over events that happened in the past or that are going to happen in the future (Greg ). 
Time travel into the past is strongly opposed based on the fact that since we cannot inundate with future tourists. For one time travel into the past lacks a well defined destination. This destination is not real as it is not in existence. What is in existence is the present which should be embraced. The past is fixed and though it might seem accessible, past events cannot be modified. This view has been backed up by Aristotle in his remark that the past cannot even be changed by God who is the controller of all things. The past therefore is inaccessible as there is clearly defined destination on which one should go (Greg 57).

Time is designed in such a manner that is moving forward. Therefore, in regards to time travel, one is forced to change one’s position with time. By travelling back into space is spatial and temporal as it does not follow the assigned and acknowledged order of events. By going back, a disruption in the order of events is caused where the past is assigned two locations. Otherwise the current is contradicted in relation to preceding and succeeding time. This is as noted by Ayer who says that it is self-contradictory if the same event is assigned two distinct places (Greg ).

Travelling back in time needs a Parmenidean world which is stretched in the sphere of time as well as, an extension into space. This is contrary to the belief that all that is required is a successive order of events merely isolated from each other by asymmetrical amounts of time. Time travel into the past entails a double occupancy short coming and with this it becomes difficult to set two motions at the same place and at the same time. By going back into the past does not mean that the world will stand still. Instead it will involve two simultaneous actions where there will be forward as well as a backward motion. It is however not possible to have a zigzag aggregate in the aspect of time (Greg 1999).

Despite the fact that it is not sensible to converse about changing the past, it would be effective if one considered affecting the past instead. This would be by changing the perception of our past actions if we feel that the past would have been different had another action been taken. The past only enables us to make a decision as per the present events. We might have wanted an event to occur in certain way but since it did occur in that particular way, our hands are tight in relation to the outcome. However, due to past mistakes we can now make informed choices to change the outcome of a similar event in the past (Greg 63-64).

Cause always comes before an effect. Therefore, once an effect in regard to a particular cause has occurred, it becomes impossible to control this cause. With time travel, there is need of reverse causation where one intends to reverse the cause-effect relationship. Ayer has said that it is not clearly established as to how something that was not of existence before would later on exert a causal influence into something that has already happened (Greg 63-64).

We cannot assume the fact that time is fixed and there is no eternal order that dictates the way events do unfold. The present is what counts as it is already there and real. Just the same way Lewis says that there is no clear alternative result that prevails in the present time; this can therefore be likened to the fact that there is also no alternative to changing what already happened in the past.

An instance of time travel is where Tim who is in 2000 decides to go back to the year 1920 on a mission to kill his grandfather, but he cannot. Why? Because it is impossible to alter the order of events as they happen. To change a past event entails altering the order of causation which is not possible.

     From what I have derived, it is not possible to travel back into the past and change past events. What is of importance is the current order of events. Just the same way that the future cannot be changed, the past is not alterable as well. Though the past appears accessible and some people even propose a time machine, this is just fiction. There is no way that events can turn around and much less at an instant.

Music and its morals

Music refers to any form of art that is auditory; it incorporates vocal or instrumental tones that are structured in a manner that is continuous. Throughout history, music has always been surrounded by a lot of controversy regarding its moral dimensions. Music is considered to be the form of art that is most elusive and as a result, there have been numerous assertions that it has very strong connections with the moral sensibilities. Although this circumstance might suggest varying expectations and views of music and art, it can also points to other dimensions that are much deeper concerning the nature of morality and music. Considering the increased practical and academic interests about the moral values of music together with its potential in morality, people have always searched for contributions regarding the morality of music from practical and academic musicians, as well as psychologists, and philosophers. They have all provided critical reflections about music morality and it is quite evident that music has a lot of moral dimensions.

Using these various perspective, this paper discusses the morality of music and argues that music is much more than simple entertainment; it can help develop good moral through the creation of sensual desires to goodness but can also destroy morals by focusing on negative issues. The paper first highlights the ways in which music is connected to moral values in several societies. Next, it discusses music as a means of developing positive morals in young people. This is followed by a discussion of several ways in which music can be used as a tool to destroy morals, going into detail about the music industry and the morality of some current genres of music. The paper concludes with a brief summary.

The moral dimensions of music
When writing down a piece of music, most composers are interested in bringing out emotions or deep feelings about something that is taking place in the society. Through music, composers usually intend to achieve various goals such addressing various aspects of the society through the message contained in their songs. The corporation of Muzak is a great supplier of background music in movies. The background music in movies offered by Muzak is of great importance making the movie more enjoyable. This is due to the fact that businesses and public are usually saturated with aural and visual stimulation and they thus need something different such as music. The experience of music plays a vital role and a prominent one in the lives of virtually everyone. The message that is conveyed by music thus has a lot of influence to millions of people who are great music fans. Music has both negative and positive moral dimensions depending on the message it conveys to the listener. Music tastes of people appear to be powerfully attached to their personal sense of self-identity. The personal identity arising as a result of music is considered to be much stronger than that impacted by other forms of art and thus, when music touches on morality, then it becomes pretty obvious that its impact will be substantial. The music encounters seems to deepen the people’s emotional links with other people, since in most cases, the message conveyed by music is very strong and in a form that is easily understood by the audience. Therefore, the music experience that we have bears a lot of relationship with the existence of individuals as agents of morals.

Within the traditions of several communities around the world art and music has always had a lot of connection with moral values. The moral values of people are greatly influenced by the message that is conveyed by music and also the form in which the message is conveyed. For much of the history of various communities, the relationship between music, arts and morality has always been considered to be very strong. The 18th century philosophers and thinkers have always conceived very strong connections between aesthetic values, beauty and the moral values of people since both aesthetic values and beauty are greatly valued in music. In addition, the classical world does not only have powerful links between morality and virtually all forms of art, but by considering all the available art forms, music is considered to be the most powerful tool as far as morality is concerned.

In the recent past, the relationship between morality and art has been looked closely by philosophers, possibly in an attempt to answer the pervasive question of societal re-evaluation so as to provide a sound answer to the meaning of the practice and experience as a result of arts. Although musicology is in most cases seen to have a great focus on cultural and social aspects of a community, several philosophers have re-examined the notions about moral contents contained in the pictorial and literary arts. The philosophers have found out that all forms of art have a lot of influence of the moral values of people, which are both positive and negative.

Music is capable of playing both positive and negative roles in the development of moral values, it can create sensual attractions and thus play a positive role, and on the other hand, it can be destructive when it sets people on a temperamental channel, thus leading people towards various vices as opposed to virtues. Music is vital in the developmental of moral values; it is at times the education center whereby people are taught various values through music. Music does a good job in the provision of the right due for the raw passions and at the same time forming in them something really good. According to various researches that have been carried out in regard to the impact of music to one character, it has been found out that music contributes significantly to the formation of the character of a young person. On this point of view, not much has changed in terms of the moral dimensions of music since the times when the young werpice immersed in music and their character developed by it. However, this has changed over time and the music is no longer the tool that can be used in culture building since the music industry is more than poisoned and it nowadays has nothing much to offer to the cultural aspects of a community.

In today’s society, it seems that various communities have managed effectively to create a lot of attachment to most of the wrong doings. Towards this end, the role that has been played by music is quite evident. In a more precise form, teachers and parents have through default permitted the industry of entertainment to be the one carrying the responsibility of teaching morals to the children. In the music industry, both vices and virtues are found and thus the younger generation is left on their own to choose between the good and the bad components offered by music. Given that the children are still young and they do not have the capacity to select from an informed position the good and the bad effects of music, they usually select the bad side that is offered by the industry. The power of music is quite strong on almost everyone but it is much stronger on the younger generation who are more inclined to identifying themselves with popular musicians.

The people who usually criticize the morality of music usually points out the paintings, pictures, craft, poetry and stories since they are all associated with the music industry and other forms of art. They suggest that all these are accessible to the young people and thus their moral values are greatly affected. The critics of such forms of art argue that children should always be brought up in an environment that offers them grace and nobility examples from which they will form their character and thus have good morals. They believe that such environments is crucial to the children’s education since it paves a clear way for morality to develop in the young brains, thus the young people will grow up more happily and with the ability of accepting reason to always dictate their course of action. Just as it is possible to enlist senses on vice side it is also possible to have them on the side of virtue. It is via senses that a young person can become fond of wisdom and justice even before he or she completely comprehends all the perspectives of notions. All these are greatly affected by music and thus the relationship between music and morals cannot be ignored at all since they are both highly connected.

The current music industry has a lot to do with sexual relations and treats them as highly acceptable among the young people, this norm is widespread and covers various forms of music and thus feeds the minds of young people with sex ideas. In this respect, music affects the morality of the young people and since several of them have musicians as their role models then they often find themselves indulged in such behaviors. The young people spend a lot of time listening to music and they therefore have no choice but to have their morals dictated by the message they receive every now and then from music. The argument that listening to music does not in any way influence attitudes and ideas of the audience does not hold any water, since that would be similar to saying that one is not influenced by the environment he or she lives in. therefore, if the music environment of an individual is one of morality then such individuals are more likely to be influenced by music to value morals, the opposite is also true for the individuals who listen to music that is full of immorality, they are likely to be immoral too because that is what their environment offers them with.

The musical environment of an individual is his or her moral environment. Currently most of the environments provided by music are poisoned with acts of violence, sex and drug trafficking. This has greatly impacted on people especially the younger generation who are in most cases deceived by their young minds that by doing what they see in the music industry they can also become popular and rich without much struggle. Music thus can promote certain values that affect the moral values of people significantly.

When the music that one listens to is more oriented towards building strong morals, then such people are likely to be influenced by such music and act according to the message it conveys. Music as a tool is very powerful and it greatly affects its audience. Most people also have the popular musicians as their role models. Thus such people are more likely to value highly what such musicians also value. This is because they want to identify themselves with musicians who are not only popular but also very rich.

The powers of music are great and they go much further than simple entertainment. Music can play a positive task in development of morals through the creation of sensual desires to goodness. On the contrary, music can also play a very destructive task by setting the young people on the temperamental channel thus deviating them further away from morals. Music therefore, greatly affects the moral values of people since it is a very powerful tool, in fact much stronger than all other forms of art.      

Kierkegaard and the Self: The Aesthetic, Ethic and Religious forms of Selfhood

The Three Stages of Life

    Kierkegaard grounds his philosophy in the three stages that a human being goes through on the way to the religious life. These stages are technical ones, but all deal with the relation between the ego and the outside world, or the constant struggle between objective and subjective worlds.
    The lowest form of life for Kierkegaard is that of the modern man, and that is the aesthetic life, the life devoted to escapism and self-serving fragmentation of life. Aesthetic experience is based on sensuous experience, the escape from the ever present boredom that dominated modern life. The ego is absolutely central here, and seeks a way of life according to one's own fleeting desires. The world is altered to conform to the desires and wishes of the person. Hence, this form of life is immediate, since it is not mediated by reason or any other form of choice, it is not really a form of choice at all, but an escape from it (Kierkegaard, 214).

    Kierkegaard uses the example of “following the heart” in his Either/Or, an immediate form of action that does not depend on choice, but merely upon the saturation of the self with immediate, sensuous images. This is not a form of knowledge, choice and even fails being a form of selfhood. In fine, the aesthetic mind is one that is formed when faith in science or the state falls apart, and one is left with nothing.# The aesthetic life is a means whereby one can fill the void left by the decay of modernity that existed in Europe in the late 19th century – the clash between romanticism and science that was so important in 19th century German polemics brought humanity to a situation where there was equal “truth” in both logical claims and the claims to self-absorption in romantic images and music. Ultimately, Nietzsche was to solve the problem in his infamous doctrine of the will to power, where truth had no claim at all, neither subjective of objective.#
    The middle form of life is the ethical life, a conception of reality that bleeds over into the religious, giving the impression that the religious and ethical life are two sides of the same coin. For the ethical, the fragments of aesthetic enjoyment are brought together into a unity made up of two parts – good and evil. But these are not objective realities. Objective reality has no ethical purpose, since it is dead matter. The only real ethical purpose is one that is adopted as important by the agent and only the agent. The essay on this by William McDonald (2008) seems to stress the importance of social norms, but this might be considered the lowest stage of ethical life. While the aesthetic is self-absorbed, the lower parts of ethical life are absorbed into the interests of the community, even unto death. But the serious and important element of ethical life are precisely those times where social norms (part of objective reality and are neither good nor evil) are rejected in the confusion and angst of ethical choice. But this is no different than religious angst.
    The link between ethical and religious forms of choice is found at these times, leading some to hold that there is no substantial distinction between religious and ethical forms of selfhood. In both cases the infinite is somehow grasped in the passionate loneliness of personal responsibility. In terms of ethical and religious choice, there are two subjectively powerful entities, faith or knowledge. The latter is purely objective, logical assent that leads nowhere. It is precisely this obsession with the objective that had led European man to concern himself solely with the formal, external relations between things. But this means nothing in terms of the personal struggle within which all questions of substance are waged.
    Not only is reason useless in the religious stage, it is equally useless in the ethical stage. In the one area where Kierkegaard accepted the arguments of the romantics, Kierkegaard held that formal relations among objects mean nothing. The force of passion that leads to the development of this form of knowledge is important, but it has found a dead end in constant externalization. The main problem is that reason can go in any direction – towards inner struggle or external logic. It can turn in either direction with equal force, intelligence and inward passion. The real puzzle is to understand human life and truth by seeing it as internal apprehension of objective uncertainty (Kierkegaard, 213-214).
    Kierkegaard defines truth in his Postscript as having three components: first, the existence of objective (i.e. logical) uncertainty; second, the internal appropriation of this fact, and third, the passionate inwardness that forces the ego onward in faith. Therefore, it is the failure of the objective realm that gives rise to the internal, existential world of faith. Putting this differently, if God could be known objectively, he would not be known (he might be understood, but that has nothing to do with man's inward struggle). God can only be known in the form of a subjective relationship (Kierkegaard, 215). Hence, there are two ways of asking a question about God: the objective would be to ask simply does God exist? The second, subjective way is to ask if there is some entity within which I can have a “God-relationship” (Kierkegaard, 211). Ultimately, it is this inward struggle, the seeking for a relation with God, that is the source of faith, and therefore, the religious form of life.
Three Forms of Selfhood

    The aesthetic form of life is the negation of selfhood. Sartre might call this “bad faith.” It is bad faith because it is the escape from self, from reality from the constant and insatiable claims of desire so central to Schopenhauer. It is a fragmented self in that it is constantly sinking its subjectivity into the endlessly changing. It never approaches the infinite like the other two forms of life face. It is constant possibility.
    On the other hand, the ethical form of self is a struggling one. It comes to itself in that it struggles and, regardless of the charms of the aesthetic life, seeks to experience the infinite in the fact (with strong religious overtones) that this self will be judged by God and hence, have infinite and eternal value (for better or worse). The ethical self is tragic in that it is not the “right” that matters so much as the process of choosing: the dissatisfaction with the aesthetic, the equal reason to chose x over y at every turn, the eternal value of the choices and the resultant connection with the “inner infinity.” The ethical man is one who struggles between the claims of the community (nearly always vulgar) and the true struggle with infinity, a concept, by the way, that exists completely outside of logical or mathematical reasoning (Kierkegaard, 106-107).
    The idea of selfhood in the latter two forms of life is based on the positivist distinction between subject and object, and the idea of an inner relationship. There is no mediated logical connection between subject and object, but rather the idea of having an inner relation to things that (subjectively) are good and evil. Nietzsche was to take this seriously a generation later. For Nietzsche, the religious and ethical were one and the same, coming from the individual drive for power which, if capable of dominating a whole people, come to define what is good and evil and hence, it is the will to power that creates the social norms (Barrett, 180-181). The good and evil that is the creation of power is merely taken as objective by those who cannot reach the level of the superman. The superman knows there is no “objective,” but it suits his purposes to have the world believe that.
    For Kierkegaard, the only truth is subjective, and therefore, the relationship between the self and the choice mediated by passion, a striving for truth and certainty, is the only reality and the only criterion.

Kierkegaard in Modern Life

    In modern times, that is, the early 21st century, seeing the connection between Kierkegaard's thought and the decay of the western world is not a difficult task. Kierkegaard, like Nietzsche, was aristocratic in his thought. Only the few could rise to the actual level of the ethical and religious. The masses of humanity were to suffer in the obscurity of the aesthetic. For Nietzsche, it served the purpose of the superman to have the masses wallow, for Kierkegaard it was tragic.
    In modern life, the aesthetic dominates. It takes the form of thrill seeking, enmeshing oneself in the world of fashion and cliché (while loudly denying this), work-a-day employment and its resultant drives to “let off steam.” The ethical life is not a pleasant one – no different than the superman – both suffer since both see the truth: there is no objective. Ultimately, the modern aesthete has no purpose outside of the hour to hour. In fact, the aesthete has no means of even asking the agonizing and dreadful questions that come up in Kierkegaard or Nietzsche, never mind have the ability to answer them. The life of the aesthete is meaningless, but it is easier than the existential poet. Even worse, the modern coffee shop world shows the most vulgar of the aesthetic dunning black berets and spouting half-digested cliche's about “philosophy” and “politics.” Of course, the superman does not try to impress the co-eds at Starbucks, but the aesthete, in its lowest form, becomes obsessed with proving to the world that he is not, in fact, an aesthete.
    It is difficult to tell the difference between the aesthete trying to act the ethical, and the actually ethical. This writer is willing to hold that the true ethical rarely seeks public attention does not show up on CNN, is considered sick like the Underground man, has few friends and lives the life of quiet suffering. The aesthete does not choose, he merely dons the costume of the ethical and seeks to life a life of pleasant dabbling as a result. Of course, for Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky, this is the lowest form of life, the imitation of the ethical, the parodying of it – the true ethical life is one of suffering, and this is why Dostoyevsky used the image of the crucified Christ so often in his work. The fates of Socrates and Christ are the end of all true philosophers, the false life comfortable lives as court writers.
    The real problem comes when one needs to answer the question about choice. Does the life of the average contain some spark of the ethical? This writer cannot answer that. As the years go on, the only rational answer seems “no,” but there are too many exceptions for that to stick. The simple fact remains that when something is easy, the majority will do it, and claim some abstract “right” to it. The few will follow the hard path. Ultimately, the existential point of view is aristocratic, and it must be so.

Concluding Thoughts

    The basic structure of Kierkegaard's thought revolves around the nature of the three forms of life. It seems that they do not “follow” one another in a kind of unfolding, but are choices that one makes. The ethical deals with secular choices of good and bad, while the religious amplifies this to eternal life and the relationship “in” God. There is no reason to hold that the aesthetic leads to the ethical, or that the ethical leads to the religious. One can claim that “bad faith” is the real problem, in that those who are stuck in either the aesthetic or religious are in bad faith, surreptitiously choosing to remain in an easier state of mind. The religious mind is the best, yet contains the most suffering because its object (so to speak) is little else but the eternal state of one's being.
    Bad faith exists in both the ethical and religious life. The aesthetic life is the very definition of bad faith, since it is a hiding in the world of sensuous data. But the ethical and religious lives can also have bad faith, but, as was said in the above section, this bad faith leads to a mere counterfeit of the ethical life, rather than being a perversion of it. In other words, the aesthete can don the costume of the coffee house philosopher while never leaving the charms of the aesthetic life. This same person will no doubt hold that she is too smart to ever be fooled, or to be in bad faith, but this approach only sinks the person deeper into illusion. For one to be truly ethical is, by definition, to not be in bad faith, unless one reasons her way out of going the next step, the step that brings the ego face to face with the eternal.
    Bad faith then forms an integral part of Kierkegaard's system long before Sartre coined the phrase. For Kierkegaard, to summarize, all non-religious forms of thought are bad faith, since some choosing process has retarded the movement towards the eternal. Coming face to face with the eternal is agony, and hence, one can easily reason oneself out of heading in that direction. In this case, the aesthetic mind is that mind of the masses, the human animals, while the ethical life might be seen to reside in the realm of politics or “issue oriented” ethical questions. In other words, ethical questions that are soaked in the mundane, and that serve to act as bulwarks against any foray into the infinite and all its pain.

What are the competing ideas of justice and how do we synthesize them?

I.    Introduction

People embrace the idea of justice even though they see it in different ways. One way to reconcile the different conceptions of justice is to ground them in the realities of living in today’s world. This research paper situates the idea of justice in the context of different realities that include political realities and the realities of minorities as a way of synthesizing the competing ideas of justice. Justice then is seen as the realization of people’s nature as human beings in their political, economic and cultural realities.

II.    Literature Review

This research paper examines the writings of John Rawls in Justice as Fairness, a Restatement and Will Kymlicka in Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Rawls contextualizes justice in the political order in what he calls ‘a political conception of justice for a democratic society’ (21). Kymlicka situates justice in the context of minority groups, those in our midst who are different and who are fewer than us (107).

III.    Methodology

This research paper is a reflection on the meaning of justice and its significance in light of the nature of people as human beings possessed of infinite worth. The research paper proceeds to relate such an idea of justice to the efforts of Rawls and Kymlicka to ground justice in different realities such as political realities and the realities of the minority groups.
IV.    Data Analysis

Rawls and Kymlicka differ in their approach to justice. While Rawls explores the meaning of justice in an idealized democratic society, Kymlicka investigates the import of justice for minorities in light of the disadvantages that are a significant part of the reality of their everyday lives. 

Though he discusses justice in the context of an idealized democratic society, Rawls delves into the specifics of justice as fairness and expresses the hope that the possibility of such an idealized democratic society is not a remote one. Rawls uses these words in his discussion:

…we consider whether a well-ordered democratic society is possible, and if so, how its possibility is consistent with human nature and the requirements of workable political institutions. We try to show that the well-ordered society of justice as fairness is indeed possible according to our nature and those requirements. This endeavor belongs to political philosophy as reconciliation; for seeing that the conditions of a social world at least allow for that possibility affects our view of the world itself and our attitude toward it. No longer need it seem hopelessly hostile, a world in which the will to dominate and oppressive cruelties, abetted by prejudice and folly, must inevitably prevail. None of these may ease our loss, situated as we may be in a corrupt society. But we may reflect that the world is not in itself inhospitable to political justice and its good. Our social world might have been different and there is hope for those at another time and place. (38)

Kymlicka, in contrast, goes into the hard realities in the lives of members of minority groups. He questions the policy of multiculturalism that involves the assimilation of minorities at the expense of their cultural identities. In place of such a policy, Kymlicka makes a case for bringing the minorities together, preserving their unique cultural identities and increasing their political influence in the process. Kymlicka expresses his thoughts in this manner:

I have tried to show how freedom of choice is dependent on social practices, cultural meanings, and a shared language. Our capacity to form and revise a conception of the good is intimately tied to our membership in a societal culture, since the context of individual choice is the range of options passed down to us by our culture. Deciding how to lead our lives is, in the first instance, a matter of exploring the possibilities made available by our culture.

However, minority cultures in multination states may need protection from the economic or political decisions of the majority culture if they are to provide this context for their members. For example, they may need self-governing powers or veto rights over certain decisions regarding language and culture, and may need to limit the mobility of migrants or immigrants into their homelands. (126)

What Kymlicka seems to propose is in the direction of the minorities as a nation within a nation becoming a kind of a state within a state. Kymlicka makes this proposal on account of the special protection that the minority groups deserve all in the name of justice.

V.    Results

Rawls and Kymlicka succeed in giving a face to justice. From an abstraction, justice becomes the fair lady of fairness in Rawls’ idealized democratic society. Even more concretely, justice is the greater economic and political opportunities for the disadvantaged minorities. The more definite form that Rawls and Kymlicka are able to give to justice advances the cause of justice as a concept that has meaning in the lives of real people.

VI.    Discussion

It is easy for people to invoke justice and to claim to stand for it. But it is quite another matter to take definite steps toward the realization of justice in the complexities of today’s world.

A.    Reflection on Justice

Justice has to do with people receiving their due. At the core of justice is its inextricable link to the value that people posses, a worth that is infinite. The recognition of certain fundamental entitlements that people enjoy as human beings is essential for justice to be a reality. A fair expression of these entitlements is found in two international documents, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Generally, the entitlements under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include:
right to life (art 6)
freedom from torture (art 7)                   
freedom from slavery (art 8)
freedom from arbitrary arrest (art 9)
right to reformation and social rehabilitation (art 10)
freedom of contract (art 11)
freedom of movement (art 12)
freedom from expulsion (art 13)
right to criminal due process (art 14)
freedom from ex post facto law (art 15)
right to recognition as a person (art 16)
right to privacy (art 17)
freedom of religion (art 18)
freedom of expression (art 19)
freedom from war propaganda (art 20)
freedom of assembly (art 21)
freedom of association (art 22)
right to family protection (art 23)
right to child protection (art 24)
right to vote (art 25)
right to equal protection (art 26)
right to minorities protection (art 27)

Generally, the entitlements under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights include:
right to work (art 6)
right to just and favorable conditions of work (art 7)
right form and join trade unions (art 8)
right to social security (art 9)
right to family protection (art 10)
right to an adequate standard of living (art 11)
right to health (art 12)
right to education (art 13)
right to compulsory free education (art 14)
right to take part in cultural life (art 15)

These human rights are essential. Any act of transgression that debases or degrades a person, restrains a person from giving expression to ideas or from making other fundamental choices, prevents a person from having sufficient food or from enjoying other basic necessities, or in any other manner departs from a person’s nature as a human being who possesses infinite worth, will have to contend with the characterization of the act as one which is unjust. 

B.    Justice in Context

Rawls gives expression to a kind of justice as fairness that is a ‘political conception of justice for the special case of the basic structure of a modern, democratic society’ (14). According to Rawls, the basic structure that paves the way to this kind of justice is one formed in a ‘well-ordered society’ (8) through ‘fair agreement’ (15) by ‘free and equal persons’ (18).

Kymlicka sees justice in terms of individual freedom (107) that, in the context of minorities, translates to a measure of political autonomy (126). Kymlicka is not content to pay lip service to the right of minorities to protection. To Kymlicka, multiculturalism that stops at promises to respect differences is not enough. The challenge is to create the appropriate political conditions including the provision of self-governing powers (126) that will enable cultural differences to persist and leave a lasting mark on the national as well as global community.

In a way, both what Rawls and Kymlicka say are in keeping with justice, one that is respectful of human rights, not just civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights, not just for some, but for all. Only in a well-ordered society of free and equal persons mindful of the rights of the minorities and their need for a measure of political autonomy to actualize their individual freedoms can there be justice.

VII.    Conclusion

Justice that gives people their due is respectful of who and what people are. It is mindful of the fundamental entitlements that people enjoy as human beings and reaches out to people in the complex situations in which they find themselves. It includes political justice as well as justice for minorities. To the extent that people fail to realize their nature as human beings in their political, economic and cultural realities, the ends of justice will not have been served.

Do defense mechanisms promote bad health?

 Defense mechanism is the way adapted by ego which is directed towards protecting against anxiety. They are used for protecting the mind from difficult thoughts and feelings which cannot be contained by the mind. The defense mechanism applied is considered to protect the entry of undesirable impulses and thoughts into the mind. Defense mechanisms keep self image through the use of unconscious psychological strategies. These psychological strategies incorporate many entities which enable the mind to cope with reality. There are various defenses which are applied by healthy individuals. There are times when ego defense may be pathological. This occurs when the mal-adaptive behavior is affected as a result of the use of ego defense. There are times when some situation can not be accommodated in the mind. At this time, the mind has to take refuge from the situation (Hogan, et al, 1997) In protecting the mind from such situations, ego defense mechanisms come in to play. The anxiety within the mind is protected by the use of ego defense. Social sanctions can also be protected through the use of ego defense mechanisms.

The imposition of an external threat to the ego may lead to the defense mechanism coming in to play to protect the mind.  The id impulses may conflict with one another in which case the ego defense mechanisms may occur. These mechanisms are defined in Freud psychology theory. A healthy psychological environment is normally required to avoid the use of defense mechanisms.   Defense mechanisms are normally applied to reduce anxiety which is brought about by various factors; external threat created to the ego, conflicting id impulses, conflict between superego beliefs and values and id impulses. Freud came up with a model which tries to define the structure of the mind. The pleasure principle is the basis for id impulses. According to Freud, instinctual impulses form up the id. The instinctual impulses takes up some characteristics such as sexual and aggregation. These are very crucial in our bodies since they perform various functions in our lives (Freud, 1997). The drive that enables us to live is the sex drive while the one which checks on our safety and protection is the aggregation drive. These drives are responsible for motivating actions.

There are various processes involved in the ego; unconscious primary process and the conscious secondary process. In unconscious primary process, thoughts are organized haphazardly paving way for shift in feelings while contradictions exist without conflict. As a result of this, the rise of condensation occurs (Paulhus, Friedlander, Hayes, 2009). On the other case, there is setting of clear boundaries while thoughts are organized coherently. This constitutes the conscious secondary process in which cognitions do arise.

Reality of life and superego are the most crucial parameters for proper functioning in an individual. In the process of growing, an individual nurtures what is to be done and what is not to be done. This learned principles in the process of growing forms the superego. There are some times when contradicting issues come to play in an individual’s life which leads to anxiety, for the desire to marry someone whose background conflicts with the mandate of ones society.  In this case, anxiety mounts followed by certain feelings of shame (Vaillant, 1999). The condition may be too severe such that the defensive mechanism comes in to play. The individual has to be protected from the situation by employing defense over the overwhelming anxiety.

Incase of anxiety, an individual has to settle the danger or the threat by involving ego defense mechanism which makes the mind to adapt to normal life. Anxiety brings about tension which calls for some defensive mechanism to protect an individual from the danger or threat posed. Defense mechanisms translate id impulses into forms which are acceptable.

The concept of defense mechanism was first developed by Freud. His concepts were conceptualized by his daughter Anna. Anna devised ten defense mechanisms; projection, denial, reaction formation, repression, suppression, denial, sublimation, rationalization, regression, intellectualization. There are other addictions contributed by other researchers; identification, withdrawal, compensation, dissociation, fantasy and undoing. The pros and cons of defense mechanism can be discussed by considering each of these mechanisms.
There are occasions when the mind is involved in swaying away emotions from dangerous situation to a safe situation. This forms the displacement defense mechanism. Displacement defense theory involves shifting of impulses which are either aggressive or sexual to situations which are more acceptable. The defense mechanism provides emotional substitute to the impulses. The displacement defense mechanism may occur in a prose, for instance a lady teacher may quarrel with his husband in which she might not be in a position to reiterate to him, while at school the teacher may displace her anger to the student who might end bullying the younger students (American Psychiatric Assocation, 1994). This relates how displacement defense mechanism applies. There are times when the displacement on oneself resulting to suicide or depression.

Denial defense mechanism is mostly employed in solving emotional conflict. Reduction of anxiety is achieved by denying aspects of external reality. In this case, an individual ends up rejecting some situations which are painful despite of having concrete evidence of their involvement. There are various applications of the denial defense mechanism in which case the subject may consider transference, simple denial or minimization. This mechanism does not involve learning and coping with reality thus being undertaken by immature mind. The denial defense mechanism may be employed in serious situation such as dying or death (Vaillant, 1992). For instance, a parent may deny the involvement of his/her child in murder cases. The habit of denial dominates in many people who want to minimize the severity of their actions. The pros of denial it minimizes the actions of severity. The cons of denial are that denial leads to delaying crucial health matters such as surgeries. Most patients deny the presence of diseases fearing some emergencies to be done on them. This is disadvantageous in that the diseases may become come critical posing some dangers on the patient’s survival.

Projection defense mechanism involves perception accorded towards unwanted thoughts. Anxiety is normally reduced here by letting the ego unaware. It normally projects ones undesirable actions to somebody actions. The undesirable action may include undesirable thoughts and feelings.  There are also some situations when psychological projection to animals or objects occurs. The projection relates the undesirable thoughts of oneself to another person (Cramer, 1999). In this case, the blame is relied on another person. The subject may project a certain quality to the object in which case might be dangerous if the object is not aware.

There are defense mechanisms which involves criteria of combining thoughts to the unconscious while protecting consciousness alert of the dangerous thoughts. These defense mechanisms are referred to as suppression or repression defense mechanism. The distinction between these two is their conscious state. Suppression involves a conscious process while on the other hand repression is an unconscious process. Suppression is considered to be managed while repression is considered to be detrimental. The repression defense mechanism is unconscious and thus the subject end up being repressed by showing some symptoms. Traumatic events are normally repressed leading to distorted outcomes. Repression involves considering between what is bad and good. This forms the issue of ego and superego (Havenesian, et al, 2009). There are various types of repression; primary repression, secondary repression and abnormal repression. Primary repression enables infants to define what is bad and good. When a child identifies some sort of anxiety because of some desires, then the secondary repression comes to play. Suppression involves unpleasant actions. It suppresses the occurrence of other events until one event is solved.

In addition, intellectualization defense mechanism involves reasoning to barricade conflict which may arise due to unconscious conflict. This defense mechanism normally emphasizes on the intellectual aspect of a situation. This enables an individual to distance from the situation provoking anxiety. Intellectualization defense mechanism replaces completely stressful events (Plutchik, Kellernam, 1979). This defense mechanism protects individuals from anxiety by separating oneself from events which might be stressful or painful.

In conclusion, there are several approaches in which one can cope with threats or dangers; taking charge of situation. The other main approach include; denial, repression and running away from situation. There are various defense mechanism involved in escaping from situation; withdrawal, denial, projection, suppression/repression. In taking charge of situation, one may involve various defense mechanism such as; sublimation, compensation, rationalization and undoing.


What is knowledge? This is probably the one question that rolls out on all the pages of Thaeatetus and Meno. In Thaeatetus, the young boy Thaeatetus attempts to define this by giving examples of domains of knowledge, and at the end,  three proposals of what knowledge is are given, and all of them turned down, and the book ends without an acceptable definition of what knowledge is. (Stanford, 2009) These definitions are:
One definition links knowledge to perception. The fault with this is that perception is different from one person to another. Feelings that define perception are never registered in a similar manner in individuals. (Plato, 360 BC)

The second definition is that knowledge is a true opinion. (Plato, 360 BC) This true opinion is differentiated from the false one. The question though is whether there is a false opinion. This is built upon the premise of the known and the not known. If things are known or unknown then there cannot be an un-comprehended opinion. This argument by Socrates lays the definition to rest.

Then comes the last definition, which is the point of focus in this paper, that knowledge is true opinion combined with knowledge (Plato, 360 BC) or, put in another way,  ‘a true opinion combined with definition or rational explanation’.  The ensuing dialogue tries to define what a ‘rational explanation’ is.  From this, three meanings emerge, the first being ‘manifesting one’s opinion (Plato, 360 BC) verbally, secondly a way of reaching the whole by using the elements thereof, and thirdly, by telling the ‘mark which distinguishes’ one thing from the rest. (Plato, 360 BC) Not all these hit the spot where Socrates wishes to build his thesis and definition of knowledge.

Why do the two not reach a plausible definition what knowledge is? Has Plato changed his mind about the nature of knowledge? I do not think so. Neither do I believe that Thaeatetus fails to offer the right understanding of ‘with a logos’ simply because his is a recollection of a definition given some time past; nor that he inadequately defends his definition.

Going back to Meno and the case of the slave in attempting to define knowledge, Socrates builds an argument that knowledge is a recollection of experiences met in the lives before. He asks the valet questions of which he has never undergone any instruction (Plato, 380 B.C.E). The slave is able to answer the questions in the best way he deems fit but of course some answers are way off the mark. What then lacks in the slave’s opinion to make this knowledge?

First, it is imperative to note that the geometry questions are not difficult but guiding questions that bring out the responses that one perceives to be the best in the given circumstances. However, the questions-some of them- are tricky and they are the ones that distinguish opinion from knowledge. This is seen when the slave is asked what numeric figure one gets when one doubles the length of a square. Going with the basis that once doubled everything increases twice as much; he erroneously says that the new area will be 8 feet square, whereas the answer is 16 (Plato, 380 B.C.E). Where does he go wrong, and is his opinions knowledge, and if not what should be added to suffice them as knowledge?

Consider the last definition of knowledge being a true opinion combined with a rational explanation in the light of Socrates and the slave boy. The opinion that twice as much length gives twice as much volume, is it true? If it is, what rational explanation can be offered to support it, and if not, what does it need to make it a true opinion that has a rational explanation hence knowledge?

As we mentioned before, twice the length gives four times the area. The opinion is not true. This could be rectified by first understanding the basic concept of area being the product of length and width, or the square of the lengths in the case of a square. The factor of enlargement is also part of this action of squaring and thus the area of the figure is the in the excess of the square of the original area before the enlargement. Nevertheless, how could the young, uneducated boy know all this? In addition, what could be added to his illiterate status to make his opinions knowledge?

One thing seen from the slave is that each one of the people on this earth is born with some innate knowledge (forget Socrates’ assertion that the soul is immortal). This information is basic and is seen at ground level. It is the one that enables the slave to see the relationship between the length and the ‘area’, though forgetting that that is the perimeter of the given figure. These innate bits of data are the true opinions that people have, and which Thaeatetus speaks about in his definitions. Much as they cannot be considered as knowledge per se, they are a part of the body of knowledge pertaining to a particular subject. In themselves, they are not sufficient but fall short of hitting the mark.

This is because knowledge is dynamic; it has twists and turns which make the lay, innate information we have to be an irrelevance. This is best exhibited by the slave of Meno. Knowledge goes farther than this true opinion and is more complex to the extent that it is not just a mere impression of the mind that people impulsively give. Knowledge is a combination of the true opinions subject to a rigorous process of thought to ascertain its validity in the face of doubt. This means that when put under investigation; this knowledge will give authentic, consistent and valid accounts of something, or bear results that exhibit these characteristics.
This all comes up to one thing. Taking the case of the Boy, he is evidently ignorant, as he lacks facts about geometry. However, he thinks he knows that which he indeed does not know. This, in Thaeatetus’ opinion, is a false belief, which can be contrasted from a true belief. Unfortunately, one will think of his opinion as true until forced to realize his folly.

Knowledge, then, is that which one gains after remedying his false opinion. As Socrates says, after the boy realizes his ignorance, he will ‘wish to remedy’ that opinion (Plato, 380 B.C.E). This will mean that the opinion he will express thence will be factual and informed and this comes as a result of subjecting all beliefs through doubt in order to discover the falsehood in them.

Now what does the boy need to add to this discovered opinions to make the resultant whole ‘knowledge’?  By him adding on top of the new things, he has learnt the true version of what he previously held as the false belief. This is to say that, using Meno’s slave as an example, the boy thought that twice the length gives twice the area i.e. it gives eight feet. Nevertheless, he has learnt that the area is sixteen, which is proportionate to the enlargement of the square. He should go further to know the cases that are applicable to his first opinion. In this case, Socrates helps him know the idea of the diagonal hence the triangle. The combination of innovations, and the new discoveries of the folly and nature of the beliefs one held as true; and their rectified versions to the true beliefs they ought to be is knowledge.

The way Religion in the form of Art unfolds into Revelatory Religion

The division of Art religion from Revelatory religion in the Phenomenology of Spirit marks the difference between a relation to God represented as an object, and the relation to God represented as a self vis a vis the Hegelian model of selfhood. This version of the theoretical/ practical distinction does have its problems. First, it is loosely drawn, since the structural division among these sections does not fully correspond to Hegel's use of the distinction. Second, Hegel's development in the Phenomenology may be read as an Abolition of the distinction itself, since the phenomenological presentation repeatedly exhibits a speculative relation between the terms: the abstracted theoretical presupposes the practical, while the practical depends on the concepts that emerge within the theoretical, and so on.

Art Religion and the First Supersensible
The structural doubling exemplifies Art religion and the second universal / first Supersensible. In the latter, the doubling opens a gap between what appears to Spirit and what Spirit knows. Hegel writes, "what is immediate for the Understanding is the play of Forces; but what is the True for it, is the simple inner world."# We have seen how the collapse of the immediate was presaged in the relation between soliciting and solicited forces, since each was seen to be mediated through its other. For Hegel, the result is that

Consciousness has a mediated relation to the inner being and, as the Understanding, looks through this mediating play of Forces into the true background of Things. The middle term which unites the two extremes, the Understanding and the inner world, is the developed being of a Force which, for the Understanding itself, is henceforth only a vanishing.

Consciousness realises that the division between Forces is, in fact, only for consciousness. The object formerly taken as the object to be grasped now is grasped as the expression, or appearance, of the underlying, intelligible order that is the Understanding's true object. The sensuous persists, but now as a vanishing, an appearance that manifests the supersensible as it is mediated through the Understanding. Hegel begins Art religion with the observation that "Spirit has raised the shape in which it is present to its own consciousness into the form of consciousness itself." Presumably, this denotes a statue of a human being. Art religion therefore begins in doubling, and will occupy itself with overcoming the distance between outer and inner#.  The insight to pursue here is that the sequence in which the artwork becomes more self-like mirrors Spirit's emerging realisation that the artwork, guised as appearance, is a "vanishing" unable to exhibit God as self. Paradoxically and predictably, the nearer Spirit advances, the farther the self withdraws.

The logical sequence of Consciousness is also at work within Art religion. Within the second universal/first supersensible, the first object for Consciousness is appearance. Rather than merely opposing appearance to the True, Hegel describes appearance as a "totality of show... which constitutes the inner of Things."This speculative/paradoxical idea of appearance revisits the modality of Perception, where things invert themselves into their opposites. This inversion governs the moments of the abstract work of art: the statue whose immediacy as a Thing obscures the activity of the self; the rendering of God in devotional language, which remains unexternalised; and the Cult, in which manifestation as actuality (Thing) and inwardness as devotion (self) are mutually sacrificed, thus identifying divine selfhood and the selfhood of the Cult, or state. .

These moments exhibit Spirit's attempt to manifest itself as an appearance which points to substance, as self-consciousness, as its underlying reality. Likewise, the central idea of the Living Work of Art (VII.B.b) is that the Cult manifests the divine one-sidedly: either as a festival, in which the mystery of bread and wine shows only the naturality of the self and not its self-consciousness (particularity); or as the glorified individual, whose inertia recalls the statue (universality). The Living Work culminates in Spirit's kenosis from representing the divine as food and drink or as the living torch-bearer, to a representation in speech of the divine, as "a lucid and universal content."

Because the Spiritual work of art is the bridge to the Revelatory religion, the previous forms of religion end here. In particular, these sections witness a collapse of the isomorphism between worlds of gods and men in favor of identifying them. The model for this transition comes from "Force and the Understanding," in the discussion of law and necessity.  There, Hegel revisits the play of forces, and concludes that because the properties of soliciting and being solicited belong equally to both members of the relation, that the relation constituting appearance must be reconceived non-dualistically.

What there is in this absolute flux is only difference as a universal difference, or as a difference into which the many antitheses have been resolved. This difference, as a universal difference, is consequently the simple element in the play of Force itself and what is true in it. It is the law of Force.

Hegel maintains the structure by which the inner expresses itself through the outer, but he complicates it by displacing universal difference from appearance into the supersensible realm of law itself. The Understanding no longer regards the play of forces as a transfer across distinct poles, but now perceives the isomorphism between the play of appearance and the underlying realm of laws. As an expression, the appearance exhibits this law's selfsameness, and universal difference from itself. But this conception of law generates a contradiction that pits the One, as the Notion of the law, "universal attraction," against the many specific laws.

To resolve this, Understanding correlates the Notion of law, "necessity" which characterises law as such, with the inner world, and the multiplicity of specific laws with the outer. But to demonstrate this necessity, Force must be polarised between positive and negative, which again makes the notion of Force—as that which is necessary—conditional upon the plurality of specific laws. As Hegel says, "in basing this necessity on the determinateness of being through another, we relapse again into the plurality of specific laws which we have just left behind in order to consider law as law." The insistence on limiting necessity to its Notion collapses the isomorphism between the inner and outer, Force and expression. What precipitates this collapse is that each world is finitely conceived through itself, and not through its other.

The Spiritual work of art has its structural ground in the above isomorphism between worlds, and its thematic ground in the notion of necessity. This work is the divine's representation in and through speech, which exhibits the previous section's logic of inner and outer. The progression from epic to tragedy, and ultimately to comedy, is marked by necessity and the self s alternation between the divine and the human. In epic, the relation between gods and men transpires through the middle term of the Minstrel, the "particularity" singled out by the gods to recollect the deeds that verify divine selfhood. But each side has claims upon selfhood: mortals are subject to the gods, but the gods' representability depends on the selfhood of mortals.

Further, because the gods' own selfhood is derivative, they experience necessity as something beyond their control. Because neither gods nor men can make an unchallenged claim to selfhood, tragedy emerges to serve as the artwork in which necessity is linked to self-consciousness in the form of the individual human self. The speech of the tragic hero demonstrates both selfhood and the capacity to act in accordance with necessity. But the presence of the chorus belies the tragic hero's full selfhood, since the chorus, and not the hero, knows the hero's fate. And on the other side, ethical substance repeats the earlier breakdown of law, since the bare notion of necessity requires specific matters (i.e. the conflict between human and divine law) in order to realise itself.

In realising itself as total self-certainty that overcomes the distinction between sensible and supersensible worlds, the self affirms the one-sided view of itself solely as a self. This self-conception is innocent of the need to mediate itself through substance or the community. Beginning from the collapsed self/world isomorphism, Hegel's task in Revelatory religion is to elucidate the speculative identity between the self and the community, the human and the divine. He accomplishes this by turning to the structure of infinity that emerges from the discussion of the second supersensible world.

Starting from this basic structure of inner difference, Hegel develops infinity into the model for self-consciousness. This model operates on two tiers. On the first, infinity functions both as a) the moving principle that animates the object known by consciousness, and b) as the act of knowing itself. This is evident in Hegel's parenthetical introduction of infinity as "this absolute unrest of pure self-movement, in which whatever is determined in one way or another, e.g. as being, is rather the opposite of this determinateness..."  But what radicalises inner difference into infinity, and infinity into self-consciousness is the self s realisation that it, itself, is the object which it knows. Self-consciousness is self-reflexivity.

As Hegel acknowledges, "this, no doubt, has been from the start the soul of all that has gone before." But this reflexivity only becomes apparent in explanation, where the explaation that explicitly thematised the physical world as its object implicitly referred to the needs of the knowing consciousness. As Hegel says, "it is as 'explanation'' that it [infinity] first freely stands forth; and in being finally an object for consciousness, as that which it is, consciousness is thus self-consciousness."

This is the transcendental insight whereby consciousness becomes aware of meeting itself in what appears as other to it. The object is both a sign of the activity of self-consciousness, and the occasion for self-consciousness to come back to itself in and through externality. As an activity, self-consciousness effects itself by returning to itself from out of apparent otherness, recognising itself in, and as, its intentional object. This reflexivity leads Hegel to conclude that "consciousness of an 'other,' of an object in general, is itself necessarily self-consciousness, a reflectedness-into-self, consciousness of itself in its otherness." (102) This infinity is the structure by which consciousness becomes self-consciousness, differing from itself, and returning to itself in what confronts it as other.

Infinity and the Revelatory Religion
Hegel's introductory remarks make clear that only self-reflexive and self-returning infinity can be the ground of Revelatory religion.

Through the religion of Art, Spirit has advanced from the form of Substance to assume that of Subject, for it produces its [outer] shape, thus making explicit in it the act, or the self-consciousness, that merely vanishes in the awful Substance, and does not apprehend its own self in its trust.

The difference in form between Art and Revelatory religion reduces to Spirit's failure, within Art religion, to recognise itself as the producer of the object it knows as divine. What Spirit gains in making this self-attribution is the knowledge of itself as infinite, as selfhood. But this knowledge of itself as infinite pushes Spirit toward the opposite extreme, expressed in the proposition that "the Self is absolute Being," at the risk of evacuating the object which confronts the self as other. However, Hegel denies that it is either the case that the object is collapsed into the self, or that the self loses itself in the object (Schelling). Although the onus of self-recognition admittedly falls to self-consciousness, or the Self, the structure of infinity corrects the one-sidedness that would otherwise result from enfranchising the subject as the agent of its own self-recognition. For Hegel,

the result achieved is the union and permeation of the two natures in which both are, with equal value, essential and at the same time only moments; so that Spirit is simultaneously consciousness of itself as its objective substance, and simple self-consciousness communing with itself.

The structure of infinity allows Hegel to enclose the opposed terms as moments of one  and the same "union," in which each permeates and is permeated by it its other. Within the sequence of religion, the advent of Revelatory religion promises that Spirit will realise the speculative unity between human and divine.

This unification begins from the dead end of Spirit's attempts to recognise itself. The Self first misidentifies itself as having no being outside of ethical substance,but flips to the other extreme by defining itself in isolation from the community.  The breakdown of each side leaves Spirit as the Unhappy Consciousness. Hegel characterises this shape of Spirit as "the loss of substance as well as of the Self, it is the grief which expresses itself in the hard saying that 'God is dead.'"  Unhappy consciousness realises that everything it thought to be true, or everything capable of being true, is in fact false. But this comes at a price. Because "Spirit has gained its certainty of itself from the crushing of gods and men,"  Spirit's identity has its negative ground in the conviction that everything it formerly believed is false. But in recollecting what went before, and in surrendering to despair, Unhappy Consciousness as Spirit is blinded to the fact that the ability to retrospect the shapes that came before means that they already belong to it. Unhappy consciousness is already pluralised, and acquainted with the shapes that will allow it to realise itself as a self.

Within Revelatory religion, the structure of infinity operates on different levels. First, Spirit's birth into self-consciousness as Revelatory religion has the structure of infinity as its model. Hegel elsewhere explains Spirit as the conjunction of substance and subject, a formula that may be concretised to mean the opposition between the community's ethos taken as a thing, versus the living, self-conscious individual. It is only within Revelatory religion that this opposition is undone, since it is here that substance and subject are shown to contain their own others. Each undergoes the kenosis into its opposite, which Hegel formulates as the process by which "substance alienates itself from itself and becomes self-consciousness... while self-consciousness alienates itself from itself and gives itself the nature of a Thing."

Literally, the community realises itself as the living individuals who enact it, while individuals realise themselves in and through the things they fashion that allow them to express themselves. Hegel's insistence on the necessity of this transition mirrors his insistence on the speculative identity of self-consciousness in-itself 'with substance, and substance in-itself with self-consciousness. The self-identification by Spirit that privileges self-consciousness and ignores substance is a privative form of religion that never realises itself as true Spirit.

Concretely, this means that God's presence must register not merely for the individual self-consciousness, since this may be imaginary or delusive. Rather, God must have a purchase within the objective world of substance, as a living being present to the community. This is why Hegel takes pains to emphasise how "this God is sensuously and directly beheld as a Self, as an actual individual man; only so is this God self-consciousness."  Revelatory religion must insist on God's incarnation as an existing self, since only this satisfies the necessary conditions for Spirit's full identification. God's unitary inner and outer structures must mirror each other, and God must possess the structure and shape of Spirit itself.

Ultimately, Revelatory religion's claim of God's selfhood is where Hegel tries to cash out the structure of infinity. This follows for a couple of reasons. First, Hegel identifies the structure of selfhood and Spirit with the structure of infinity. As he says, "Spirit is the knowledge of oneself in the externalisation of oneself; the being that is the movement of retaining its self-identity in its otherness." The passage touches on the capacity of inner difference to become other to itself, with the caveat that doing so does not annul self-identity or otherness. Both characteristics are essential to selfhood, and thus to Revelatory religion, in which "the divine Being is known as Spirit, or this religion is the consciousness of the divine Being that it is Spirit."  This suggests that the Revelatory religion not only reveals God as a self,# but also defines the relation of the believer to God, as the relation of the self to itself.

For there is something hidden from consciousness in its object if the object is for Consciousness an 'other' or something alien, and if it does not know it as its own self. This concealment ceases when the absolute Being qua Spirit is the object of consciousness; for then the object has the form of Self in its relation to consciousness, i.e. consciousness knows itself immediately in the object, or is manifest to itself in the object.

Self-consciousness only finds itself in and through its divine other, who is in fact itself, estranged in and as the other. Selfhood is the being of the divine Being, and the relation of the believer to the divine being is also one of selfhood, since the divine Being itself is the other of the self into which the self returns and finds itself. Hegel reformulates this infinite relation into specific terms when he says that "the divine nature is the same as the human, and it is this unity that is beheld."  Along with this infinity come various paradoxes: the lowest is the highest, the immediate is mediated, and so on. The figure of God as a self-consciousness, and religion as the consciousness o/this self-consciousness who is God, all depend on the structure of infinity as it figures in the Revelatory religion.

But what, finally, makes this relation to an immediate self-consciousness belong in religion and not elsewhere? For Hegel, the presence of the incarnate God "has inseparably the meaning not only of a self-consciousness that immediately is, but also of the supreme Being as an absolute essence in pure thought, or absolute Being."  It is the structure of infinity, not merely present, but realised. Both sides of God are present: the immediate presence as a living individual, alongside the mediated relation to God as the divine other of humanity, with whom humanity is one, and in whom humanity may find itself.

Hegel concludes the structural discussion of religion by underscoring the significance of the Revelatory religion. The joy of beholding itself in absolute Being enters self-consciousness and seises the whole world; for it is Spirit, it is the simple movement of those pure moments, which expresses just this: that only when absolute Being is beheld as an immediate self-consciousness is it known as Spirit.  To press the point, we should emphasise the play of immediacy and infinity within this passage. Only when the absolute Being is beheld as an immediately present self is it knowable as Spirit—as Hegel's concept for the infinite relation to the other.


The understanding of virtue in Socrates was very profound. Through his dialectical approach, it became apparent that several persons had only a superficial understanding of virtue. His exposure of the difficulty gotten into, with any serious attempt to understand the true meaning of virtue was done with a clarity that can only be hailed as excellent. This study is focused on the understanding of Virtue in Socratic and Platonic reasoning. In this attempt, one must be very modest in their claims. This study does not claim to offer a new understanding to the meaning of virtue.

The Meaning and Essence of Virtue
As already mentioned, Socrates had a serious problem with people who focused on the external presentations of themselves (Vlastos, 1991). For him, virtue can be properly said to be that habit which ensues from the mind, and admits of admiration. This habit is had for its own sake. In other words, one should not be externally motivated in order to be considered virtuous. In this case then, virtue involves internal traits in the character of the person. Whenever a certain occasion demands, a virtuous person jumps into action with great spontaneity, not considering any other thing apart from the fact of the virtue itself. Plato considered virtue as excellence in matters of life. This understanding meant that virtue in the strictest sense was perfect. The greatest question that comes to mind with the mention of admiration is; why are people attracted to a virtuous person? What makes a virtuous person admirable? This question looks into the essence of virtue itself. The essence of a virtue is that which makes it to be described as virtue, and as such be considered admirable. The individual becomes the central focus whenever the discourse on virtue is given considerations. In order to sufficiently describe the meaning of virtue, an example may suffice. When someone says that James is a very kind man, what does it really mean? What exactly is that person saying regarding James? This question could appear simple from a common sensical point of view, but in the real sense, its demands are very complex. To aid in the understanding of the meaning of this virtue, a consideration will be made, of what the virtue of kindness is not. Kindness is not a response to the needs of other people in order to be hailed. A person who does a certain thing, like going to the help of a sick person, simply because an authority higher than they, recommends cannot be considered as being kind. This is because such a response comes from a force without the person. In this case, the show of kindness is not made for its own sake; rather it is done in fulfillment of the demand by a higher authority. Therefore, kindness cannot be an act in response to the suggestions or even demands of an external authority. It simply does not come from within the helping agent.

Kindness is not a response to another person’s need in the hope of a repayment in the event that one is in a similar situation in the future. This is because the response is not done with clear motivations, even where spontaneity is present. It is done with the aim of finding a helper in case of need. Outwardly, people would consider such a person very kind, but the virtue of kindness goes beyond what is considered as an outward expression (Vlastos, 1991). It is not necessary for people to judge a person as virtuous as such, because that would involve their consideration of motives and reasons for acting in the ways they act, which would be impossible. Socratic reasoning considers that it would be erroneous to consider virtue from the point of view of the society (Vlastos, 1991). It is an individual thing, because the individual in his/her innermost convictions understands the motivations for responding in the event of cases requiring their response.
A person would be considered kind therefore, where that person responds out of empathy, to the needs of other people. This means that such a person is capable of putting oneself in the position of that other person and feel with them. This is in no way a simple task, because it requires that the kind person be totally abandoned to the self in order to experience the experience of the other person. This is a very hard task, and only a few, if any, are capable of it.

The understanding of virtue as defined here does not exclude the possibility of question. Socrates already cautioned against general rules, and such a definition risks being seen as such (Vlastos, 1991). It is possible that a person, for instance James, empathizes with another, because he has been in a similar situation before, which means that he fully understands the situation of one in need of help, but at the same time, he is interested in helping that person in order to get an inheritance from that person. This counter example shows that it is possible for someone to have empathy, and be motivated by it, but have other motive as well when responding to the needs of that person. In this case, it would be erroneous to consider this person as virtuous.