Study of philosophy has acquainted me with a list of thinkers whose contributions have produced an impression on my mind.
In this list, Socrates and Augustine of Hippo stand out from the rest.
Socrates impressed me with the Socratic method of inquiry also called Socratic Dialogue. Using this method, two people try to answer a question using their powers of reflection and asking some questions that will reveal the truth based on their reason and understanding. This method, in my mind, contrasts sharply with the modern empirical approaches that try to answer a question based on exploration of the world using scientific methods. It is interesting to note that people in Ancient Greece were willing to spend their time on reasoning and how they relied on their understanding to clarify the features of the universe. Finally, his call “Know thyself” is topical for any human being willing to engage in self-discovery.
Socrates is also renowned for never claiming himself to be wise and recognizing the limits to the scope of his knowledge. Being willing to emphasize his ignorance, he nevertheless seemed ready to believe that people can gain wisdom if they try to uncover it. This love and pursuit of knowledge is something I would be glad to apply to my life. I believe that understanding Socrates talked about was different from education and stuffing one’s head with facts in the way we often do today. His belief in self-development is more important than acquisition of wealth also appeals to me. It is always important to remember this simple advice as there is still a temptation to place material wealth first. His belief in friendships and community is also valuable although I would not take it to such extremes as he did – make poison instead of just fleeing Athens.
Augustine of Hippo was renowned for his works in the human will that would from them one become a focal point of ethics. His arguments in favor of the doctrine of the Original Sin helped make this teaching an official tenet of the Christian Church. Augustine of Hippo is also known for finding justification for the concept of the just war and developing the doctrine of divine predestination. He was also the one to insist on the more liberal interpretation of the Bible if separate passages did not seem to make sense from the common sense viewpoint.
I believe that even before my acquaintance with Augustine I subconsciously used his theory of will and evil.
Thus, along with him, I think that there are natural evils that a human just cannot avoid and that cannot even be considered entirely evil. On the other hand, speaking of moral crimes, a human being has free will and can choose to follow the wrong path or not. From now on, I will have more reasons to stop blaming myself for natural evils that result from our limited perspective and, on the contrary, make a more significant effort to resist doing moral sin for which I am responsible myself. Studying these issues makes one think more about personal responsibility and actions.
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