The problem of Socrates' goodness: An application of Gregory Vlastos' account of Socratic irony.

The problem of Socrates' goodness: An application of Gregory Vlastos' account of Socratic irony.

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Titre: The problem of Socrates' goodness: An application of Gregory Vlastos' account of Socratic irony.
Auteur: Pierlot, John F. J.
Résumé: Socrates is supposed to be a good man, but he consistently disclaims the very knowledge of goodness which he thinks one has to have in order to be good. This is the problem of Socrates' goodness. But Socrates' ignorance is ironic, not in the sense that when he says he lacks moral knowledge he means he really has it, but rather in the sense that he holds a set of moral intuitions that he considers true because they have survived the test of the elenchus. Thus his ignorance is characteristic of what Gregory Vlastos has called "complex irony," an irony consisting of the articulation of two senses of knowing. Socrates disclaims godly wisdom but at the same time he reclaims wisdom in another, more contingent sense, consistent with his conviction that what he does know has withstood the rigours of his unique method of critical discussion. Vlastos' notion of complex irony is a valuable clue for understanding how Socrates might be good. Socrates is good to the extent that he lives in a manner that is consistent with some reasonable intuitions about how a good person lives his/her life. At the same time, however, Socrates' moral knowledge is self-admittedly deficient. This means that not only is his ignorance characteristic of complex irony, so too, by the same token, is his goodness. Socrates is justified in believing that he is good in the sense that he conforms to as much as he does know about the human good, but he is also not-good in that he knows he still cannot fully satisfy the requirements of the doctrine that knowledge is necessary and sufficient for goodness.
Date: 1998
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/4509

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