Plato on the Four Cardinal Virtues and How to Achieve Happiness

Plato Complete WorksTo understand Plato’s ethics, you must first disregard modern conceptions of ethics as natural duties or utilitarian calculations. To Plato, the act of calculating the greatest good or living by the dictates of supernatural authority would have been entirely beside the point: ethics, to Plato, is instead a more personal matter of living according to universal virtues that lead directly to eudaimonia (human happiness, well-being, or flourishing), to a state of inward welfare and contentment.

To Plato, there is no distinction between virtue and knowledge, under the assumption that goodness is not merely a relative term, but a term that refers to something universal and unchanging, otherwise it could not be an object of knowledge. The task of the philosopher (and for all of us), is to determine what goodness is, and then to practice it for its own sake.

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Top 3 Ideas from Plato’s Apology of Socrates

Plato Five DialoguesThe Apology of Socrates is an early dialogue by Plato that presents Socrates’ speech of self-defense at his trial for impiety and corrupting the youth. Socrates presents his defense and addresses the charges, but is ultimately convicted. After being found guilty, Socrates was allowed, as was the custom, to propose a less severe penalty, which the court could consider in lieu of death. In this Socrates antagonizes the court by suggesting not a penalty, but a reward, after which he is promptly and unsurprisingly sentenced to death.

Contained within Socrates’ defense speech are three key ideas that outline the revolutionary nature of his teachings, defining the ideals of philosophy and redefining how we should think about wisdom.

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