Socrates vs. Plato

Length: 3 Pages 812 Words

One of the areas of greatest disagreement between Plato and Socrates was on the issue of incontinence and how the idea manifests itself in people’s lives. This was one of the first areas in which Plato made a point of disagreeing with his teacher. As a consequence he develops a very different theory of motivation as compared to Socrates. We will look at Socrates’ theory as well as Plato’s and then decide if Plato succesfully proves his theory correct. Socrates believes that the argument most commonly used to support the idea of incontinence is illogical. He then begins to develop an idea of motivation as separated from the tradition weakness of the will approach. There is a certain style that Socrates uses to disprove the idea of incontinence, or at the least prove it illogical. The type of argument he uses is called a reductio ad absurdum in which the theory is put through different scenarios until it is found to be contradictory or nonsensical at which point it is thought that the theory has been disproved. The popular argument of incontinence is that one sometimes does what is worse, even though it is avoidable, because they are overcome by the pleasure of that thing. One can also use good to describe pleasu Continue...


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For example, consider someone who wants something to drink but cannot because of an ailment that prevents them from drinking. Secondly, Socrates says that perhaps someone would take the greater harm in something for the lesser pleasure that came with it. This contradicts the above statement so it isn't a possible theory. He also notes that this theory of opposition only applies to things that are directly contrary, in that they make no logical sense existing within the same soul and in fact cannot be reconciled or dealt with by the brain because they exist independent of each other. To sum up their opinions it can be said that Socrates denies that incontinent action is possible because free will only takes into account the value of the proposed action. re so it is the case that people are overcome by the good. Plato, on the other hand, has developed a more sophisticated method for discerning between rational and appetitive desires. The first argument Socrates makes is that the good in something outweighs the bad and the person knows this so they do what will be good. It seems that this idea was always a problem for Socrates because he always felt that it was a very intuitive idea and that there wasn't really a need for explanation. He bases this on the priniciple of opposites which states that a single thing cannot be drawn in opposite ways at once and, therefore, there must be two different parts of the soul. Thus, Plato draws a line between rational desires which make sense to the logical part of our brain and desires that go contrary to our thought process but continue to manifest themselves nonetheless. Plato in fact takes the argument a step further and hypothesizes to different parts of the soul, the rational and the appetitive. This explains perfectly how someone would choose what is less good according to the rational self but is more desired by the appetitive self. People strive to maximize pleasure and minimize pain as discussed in the debate hedonism also in the Protagoras so that theory is also faulty. Socrates believes that nothing else has any motivational force.