Philosophy – it is an extremely generalized theoretical vision of the world that has been studying by great philosophers during a number of centuries. These philosophers have set different goals while they research the world and its public order, and while they try to establish their own philosophical worldviews and system of values. The way in which great philosophers understand reality differs from the religious and scientific way of accepting the world. In contrast to religion, philosophy differs due to its rationality, and presence of scientific ideas. At the same time, it also differs from the scientific way of understanding reality since it represents a generalized comprehension of the whole world and man’s relationship to this world. Philosophers address to the emotional and reasonable side of the person simultaneously; they appeal not only to man’s feeling, but to man’s sense as well. Explicating the moral part of a man, philosophy also develops intelligence of an individual; that is why it is essential for everyone to establish his own philosophical attitude to the world in order to be able to distinguish piety from impiety and live happy life.
Socrates is known as one of the most outstanding philosophers that has initiated a great number of philosophical ideas and concepts and brought the whole science of philosophy on the new level of researching. Plato, being the Socrates’ follower, wrote several works in the form of dialogues between Socrates and other men where philosophy has opened through the dialectics. In “Euthyphro” and “Crito” Socrates debates with his interlocutor, and in Plato’s “Apology” he stands trial and delivers his defense speech. And in each of this work reader can follow the philosophical ideas of Socrates and his understanding of the world and reality, which necessarily helps to get outside of system of views and values in order to live righteously, hence happily.
First of all, it should be noticed that Socrates sees righteous life within a trustworthy state, and furthermore, he considers that being raised by the “laws”, person should always faithfully serve his Fatherland “both is war and in courts” (Plato, 2000, p. 51). He compares state and parents, claiming that the native land is more important and significant than mother, or father, or any other ancestors. No one can be wiser and fairer than state and law; and an opinion of the majority is nothing if this majority is unwise and impious – one thought of a wise man is enough to go against the crowd. This philosophical attitude represents the idea that person should never fear and listen to the opinion of the majority if he seeks to live morally and intelligently. Therefore, people should use philosophy in their everyday life in order to analyze what opinion is fair and useful, and what does not worth any attention. Socrates’ life vividly presents to people such idea – he did not want to leave prison not because a lot of people considered him as a man who corrupted young minds, but because the laws (honorable, respected and wise institution) sent him to prison (Plato “Crito”).
Another role that philosophical attitude plays in people’s life is the necessity of understanding of wisdom and the place of wisdom in life of every single man. Socrates states: “It is the most blameworthy ignorance to believe that one knows what one does not know” (Plato, 2000, p. 32). This thought proves that people are used to consider themselves as the wisest men while in fact they know nothing. Philosophy aims to present that wisdom is much deeper concept that people are used to think, and that no one can be wiser that God, but at the same time, everyone should seek to become reasonable and wise. True wisdom helps men to realize their faults and impiety; and once a person learn to behave and think wisely and reasonably, he will gain much more piety and will live in accordance to morality and intelligence.
According to Socrates, people’s moral and intelligent life depends on how they develop their souls and spiritual world, how they enrich the mind and - as a result - comprehend the truth. “Are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom or truth, or the best possible state of your soul?” Socrates says (Plato, 2000, p. 32). The main idea of this philosophy is that people would rather worry about their material possessions and social status than about prosperity of their soul and development of thoughts. Socrates’ denial of wealth is expressed in his social status – he did not accept an official position and chose the life of free philosopher in order to enrich his mind and soul. And this concept is one of the most important and essential for the modern society – life in accordance to philosophical attitudes is a great step towards understanding what is really important and faithful in the world.
Finally, the foundation of philosophical thought is people’s ability to recognize what acts, opinions and behavior are considered to be piety, and which of them are not. It has been already said that the opinion of majority mostly does not provide the person with a fair assessment; the crowd tends to mistake and judge wrongly, that is why it is often more important to listen to the opinion of one wise and respected man than to the beliefs of thousand unwise people. The discrepancy between the opinions of one man and a thousand people lays in the different way of thinking and understanding of good and evil. One deed can be considered as good act for someone, while for another individual it would be estimated as an act of evil: “Care in each case has the same effect; it aims at the good and the benefit of the object cared for” (Plato, 2000, p. 16). Hereby, controversies between people arise.
In order to sort out these differences people should shape their philosophical attitudes as Socrates did. The understanding of piety and impiety depends not only on people’s personal and individual views, but it appears also from the generally accepted norms. For instance, the example from Plato’s “Euthyphro” presents: the murder of a man is undoubtedly worth fair punishment, however, according to Socrates, if the murder was committed by one of your parents, it would be wrong to bring your father to a court. Thus, there are things that are undeniable and clear (murder is bad), meanwhile the circumstances of every undeniable and clear thing also need to be taken into account (murder by your farther). Therefore, considering all circumstances of Euthyphro’s case, Socrates comes to the conclusion that something can be piety and impiety simultaneously, and no one can judge anything until he fully understands the case and circumstances. That is why Socrates does not support Euthyphro in his intention to bring the farther to the court.
Plato. (2000). The Trial and Death of Socrates (Third Edition): Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Death Scene from Phaedo. Trans. G. M. A. Grube. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.