There are many great philosophers who have had many great ideas over the centuries. These philosophers have had their ideas passed down to many people through the centuries, decades, and years. Fredric Nietzsche, Rene Decartes, and Socrates are philosophers that many philosophy students study. However, not everybody likes or agrees with these philosophers philosophies. The purpose of this paper is to provide information about the three philosophers’ lives, work, and philosophies. Also, in this paper there will be criticism of each of the philosophers.
Let’s begin with a discussion of Socrates. Socrates was a Greek philosopher who taught another Greek philosopher named Plato. Even though Socrates is thought to be a great Greek philosopher, we have none of his writings. Therefore, many Greek scholars are not sure whether what is on the page is what Socrates taught Plato or Plato’s own thoughts. Socrates’ background is interesting, but now let’s talk about some of Socrates’ philosophical views. Derek Johnston claims that Socrates thought that there was much good in the world; however he believed that virtue was the ultimate good.
Johnston goes on to claim that Socrates firmly believed that no outside source could deprive people of virtue (Johnston, 2006, 11). In short, Socrates was mostly concerned with the branch of philosophy called ethics. Socrates also firmly believed that the quest for knowledge was the most important thing and by obtaining knowledge about things is the only way people become truly virtuous. Johnston also claims that Socrates was also attempting to find the true meaning of ethical words such as “true”, “good”, and “beautiful” using the question and answer method of inquiry.
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He also held firm that Socrates’ main belief was that knowledge equals virtue which can and is obtained through reason. In fact, Socrates held strongly that any opinion that someone had that wasn’t based on reason should be discarded (Johnston, 2006, 11). Rene Descartes’’ philosophy seemed to be based on doubt and certainty. Decartes began to build his philosophical stance by doubting everything that could be doubted. But, even Decartes believed that there were things that couldn’t be called into question.
The things that Decartes believed couldn’t be called into question were his existence and the existence of God. Decartes believed that his existence couldn’t be doubted because he was sitting down thinking about whether or not he existed, among other things. Therefore, he believed that if he doubted things then, he must exist. In other words, Decartes believed he thought therefore he was. He more famously put it as;” I think therefore I am. ” The Latin for this saying is Cogito Ergo Sum (Johnston, 2006, 76).
This argument is sometimes simply known as Cogito. Decartes also was a rationalist. Rationalists believe that there are things that have to be true and that there are things that have to be false. He also believed in the existence of God. His argument for the existence of God basically says that imperfect beings, which are humans, depend on their existence both beginning and continuing upon a perfect being which is God. In addition, according to Johnston, Decartes believed that minds are separate things from bodies (Johnston, 2006, 77).
Both Socrates and Friedrich Nietzsche had a philosophical view that was based on ethics. Nietzsche was big on morality. He wished to locate a materialistic basis for his moral principles. At the beginning of his ethics, he believed that both good and evil were simply ways of illustrating that some actions were good for society and other actions were bad and didn’t benefit society. But, later he thought of good and evil in absolute teams (Johnston, 2006, 142). Nietzsche attacks philosophy from an ethical standpoint; however, he promoted only two sets of ethical values.
One ethical value was pride in oneself and ruthlessness and philosophy, music, and poetry. Nietzsche thought there were some good ethical qualities that human beings could achieve however; he believed that all human beings could strive to get the good moral qualities but only a few exceptional human beings could actually get those good moral qualities. According to Johnston, Nietzsche’s noble man will have a cruel will and will sacrifice his fellow men. In addition, his noble man will be both disciplined and cunning in war (Johnston, 2006, 145).
Nietzsche’s greatest philosophical view is called the Will to Power. Nietzsche’s Will to Power is the ultimate source of both what is and what will be for human beings. Strong people will be able to get the will to power and weaker people will not be able to get the will to power. According to Johnston, Nietzsche’s will to power allows people’s current moral judgments and values which are the moral judgments and values of society to be washed away forever. Then, and only, then can a new set of pure moral values and judgments emerge (Johnston, 2006, 147).
In addition, a hero for Nietzsche is a man who rises above and beyond his fellow humans by the strength and will of his own powers be them physical or mental or both. His hero will never be sorry for his superiority; in fact he should relish and rejoice in it. Compare and Contrast It may seem as if because Socrates, Rene Decartes, and Fredric Nietzsche were born and lived at different times and in different centuries that none of these three philosophers’ philosophical views would have similarities to them. However, there are similarities to these three philosophers’ philosophies.
Rest assured that there are differences in these three philosophers’ philosophies, but first let’s focus on the similarities of these three philosophers philosophical viewpoints. Both Socrates and Fredric Nietzsche subscribe to the school of philosophy called ethics. In fact, according to Johnston, Socrates view of life centered mostly on ethics and ethical concerns (Johnston, 2006, 11). Also, both Socrates and Nietzsche tried to find the real meaning of ethical terms such as good, trust, bad, and beautiful by means of asking questions and getting answers.
In fact, Socrates used the question and answer method to inquire into many moral definitions and many moral issues such as justice. Nowhere is this question and answer method of philosophical inquiry more apparent than in Plato’s dialogue called The Republic. In Plato’s dialogue The Republic through Socrates Plato explored both the definition of justice and the concept of justice itself. Plato also talked about what philosophy is and the many types of government that is used to run a state. Plato even talked about what he believed was the best form of government.
Both Socrates and Nietzsche believed that there was one thing that would make people virtuous. Socrates believed that possessing knowledge and Nietzsche believed that having the strength of will was the ultimate virtue. In addition, both Socrates and Nietzsche also believed that few people will ever achieve either virtue. These are the only similarities between the three philosophers Descartes, Socrates, and Nietzsche. These three philosophers had more differences between them than similarities. Let’s look at thee differences between them now.
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