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The word philosophy is derived from two Greek words “philo” and “sophia” which means “love for wisdom”. In simple terms, philosophy can be defined as the art that teaches individuals how to live. This is because it entails the study of fundamental and general problems, which are interrelated by reason, existence, mind, knowledge, as well as language. It takes a systematic and critical approach to addressing problems with a help of rational argument. With this in mind, one can easily formulate the definition of a philosopher. Words “philosophy” and “philosopher” are ascribed to a Greek thinker Pythagoras. A philosopher is an individual who is deeply versed in philosophy. In other words, he or she is capable of providing views and theories that explain contentious questions in metaphysics, ethics, and logic.
Plato was a student of Socrates, so he provided a clear examination of Socrates as a philosopher. In all his dialogues, Plato presents Socrates as the main character. “The amount of excellence philosophical writing on Socrates and Plato is far too large to be listed (Cahn, 2)”. For instance, in three of Plato’s writings, he clearly tries to bring out the philosophical nature of Socrates. “Euthyphro” is a dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro on the issue of piety. Plato presents Socrates in a manner of question-and-answer. He portrays Socrates as a question and Euthyphro as the answer. Socrates possesses great wisdom and knowledge and. therefore, seeks to challenge the mind of his listener. This is an ideal character of a philosopher. They are often on toes in search for new knowledge and providing answers to questions that trouble the society. In apology Socrates elaborates that the humiliation he has caused to his social group was the main reason why he was being charged. He further claims that it is the failure of his colleagues to live an examined life. He goes on and says “Death is something I could not care less about, but rather, my concern is not to do anything unjust or impious (Cahn, 38)”.
The words of Socrates clearly portray the features of a true philosopher. From the argument one can deduce the meaning of a philosopher. Thus, a philosopher is an individual whose main concern is to challenge the status quo and provide solutions to many huddles that people often face. The manner in which Plato portrays Socrates mission to Athens brings out another aspect of philosophers, depicting them as people who would take a risky step to emphasize what they strongly believe in. Plato tries to explain that Socrates was never guilty of the charges alleged on him. Another excellent example is in the “Crito” where Socrates stresses the need for citizens to obey the law of the land while he awaits his trial and eventual execution in Athens. Socrates and Crito agree that his execution in jail is a misuse of the law.
To some extent actions and words of Socrates do support a single and coherent idea of what philosophy is. There are no divergent views at any point. For instance, he argues it is the duty of the citizens to obey the law because he obeyed it too: “I am ready to be prosecuted, I should run any risk on the side of the law and justice (Cahn, 37)”. We can clearly see him portraying this when he patiently waits for his execution in jail without protesting. The character of Socrates is quite different from pre-Socrates. This is because the latter refuses to attribute things to the traditional myth but rather attempts to understand the essence of things. Pre-Socrates emphasized the natural philosophy while the Socrates based argument on ethical philosophy. For example, pre-Socrates believed that the standards of truth and falsity, right and wrong were entirely subjective and could only be determined by individual’s opinion. This belief is strongly opposed by Socrates, who advocates for liberty through knowledge. Socrates further argues that it is the duty of man to take care of his soul by gaining the knowledge, which enables one to live correctly through every affair.