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.. , we must understand what each element of the state share in common. Just like if we are to understand what justice is, we must understand what it is that all just acts have in common. To repeat myself, Socrates believes that the only way to do this is in proper language use via the Socratic method. In the case of the Republic, however, Socrates never does learn the true definition of justice, and this only strengthens his view that there is something, which we cannot see, which will, upon realization, illuminate the true definition of things.Rene Descartes, a renowned philosopher of the 16th century was the first philosopher to offer a solution to the problem which Plato and Socrates encountered in their search for the truth.
Descartes realized that if one is to arrive at a truthful conclusion in any argument, that argument must begin with a truthful premise and have all other premises flow, in a logical order, from that truth. Socrates and Plato could never find truth in their search because they always began their arguments with a false premise, and using language and logic, could, at best, only prove it incorrect. After Socrates' death, Aristotle, a pupil of Plato's, approached Plato with rules of argument, later called Aristotelian Logic, however Plato rejected these rules, possibly due to the notion that discovering truth by basing an argument on a pre-established truth has a circularity to it, since, how can you know that you have a truth to begin with? It was Rene Decartes who saw this lack of a beginning point as a major flaw in the method of philosophy and theology of and prior to his time. He saw that in all of the philosophical and theological teachings in the entirety of the institution, there was no truth with which to build a solid and truthful argument upon. It was for this reason that Descartes dedicates his Meditations on First Philosophy "To those Most Wise and Distinguished Men, The Deans and Doctors of the Sacred Theology of Paris." Descartes saw a necessity to appeal to those influential men because the institution lacked in completeness. Descartes insisted that there was a key element, which was instrumental to the stability of the institution.
He saw that the institution, in all of its teachings, lacked the one thing, which made those teachings matter. It lacked that which, without it, would have destroyed itself. Descartes saw that the institution lacked basic truth. It lacked a truthful starting point with which to continue all other arguments. Thus Descartes' reason for writing the Meditations was to offer to the institution a truth which cannot be denied, and from this truth stems a secure and lasting faith in the certainty of science and mathematics.In the Meditations on First Philosophy Descartes begins by explaining how, through his life, he has come to realize how many false opinions he has accepted as true.
Descartes realizes, as Socrates and Plato did, that to find the truth he must begin anew, tearing down all which he now thinks he knows, and start over by accepting only those thoughts and ideas which are in no way able to be brought into doubt. Realizing the enormity of this task, reason dictates to him that not all of his ideas individually need inspection, but rather, grouping his ideas in the ways which they come to him, and finding reason whether or not to doubt the group will reduce the complexity of the task. He begins by examining all those ideas brought to him by the senses and immediately finds doubt in them in the fact that on many occasions has he been deceived by what they revealed to him. Then he finds doubt in the science of mathematics based on his evil demon hypothesis. He comes to the realization that all of his ideas can in some way or another possibly be false and so he proceeds to formulate an idea which cannot be doubted under even the toughest scrutiny.
As to escape from the deceptive nature of the senses, Descartes withdraws himself from them and establishes the freedom of pure thought. In doing this, he also realizes that under no circumstance is it false that he does not exist, for, even when deprived of the senses, his faculty of thought remains. Therefore, so long as he is thinking, he exists, and at no time will he cease to exist so long as he is thinking, With that, Rene Descartes establishes the cogito principal' cogito ergo sum, Latin for," I think therefore I am." This principal, as he saw it, was the missing foundational element in the institution of philosophy. It established a truth, which cannot be denied and also provided a starting point in an argument with which one could come to a truthful conclusion. Descartes gave meaning to the argument process which Socrates initiated two thousand years prior. To extend an earlier metaphor, Descartes focused the dialectical lens so that it could correctly illuminate the truth.Language has, from as long as it has existed, had very persuasive capabilities, as the Sophists knew all too well.
In the modern day, it is television, the media, the politicians, the educators, the religions and the Internet that are serving the role of knowledge "distribution." I say distribution because in this high speed, fast food, fast answer day and age that we live in, knowledge is becoming something you are handed, rather than something you search for. In TV commercials, the persuasive power of language is being used to let the public 'know' what fashion designer they should buy from, and what beer they should drink. The politicians use television to tell the public what is in their best interest. The educators and the religions are telling us what to think and how to act. It seems that nobody is thinking for himself or herself anymore. Is it that we are all too busy to do the one thing that really set us apart from the animals 1/4 thinking? If this is the case, why are we content to live like this? As the utilitarian John Stuart Mill states, " It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied." I believe no one would care to argue this point. Since we are contented with our lot in life and do not care to search for truth but rather have it handed to us for the cost of an education, cable bill and Internet connection per month, are we not the fools who are content while the enlightened few, the philosophers and all those others who think for themselves, remain discontented with our situation.
As Plato and Socrates would certainly suggest, language use is essential if we are to have some idea of a means to achieving our goal as humans in society. It is quite evident now that language is indeed a powerful tool and can be used for reasons of knowledge and for reasons of power. It is also quite obvious that today only a small number of the population use their own heads to think and leave the power solely to the modern institutions of 'knowledge distribution'. By using Aristotelian Logic, arguments can be used to produce truths, so long as the premises are true, and Descartes has provided this foundational truth. Using argument, talking to each other, one can find the commonality in all things, and discover what our own commonalties are as human beings and as elements in the state.
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