Highest good and justice: the role of philosophy.

As a preliminary matter, it is important to note that Socrates’ teachings were mostly directed at the individual. The highest good, therefore, was a condition that each individual was capable of attaining. however, this highest good could only be known through reason and knowledge of one’s self. Socrates equated this highest good with knowledge and happiness. Significantly, though, he went to great lengths to distinguish true happiness from illusory pursuits of happiness. He did this by drawing distinctions between absolute levels of ignorance and fancy ideals of true knowledge. These distinctions, often grounded in Socrates’ claims that he knew nothing, provided the intellectual framework for subsequently exploring ultimate questions of goodness, justice, and proper forms of public administration. In effect, he tore down common assumptions, challenged certain modes of thinking, and in the process attempted to redefine both the proper focus and method of philosophical inquiry as well as the practical application of philosophy to man’s life and to social affairs.

Central to man’s pursuit of happiness was the intellectual process by which he confronted choices and made decisions. In many ways, Socrates reduced the highest good to a&nbsp.decision-making process in which a noble existence was chosen rather than succumbing to false inducements often colored with pleasure.&nbsp. He believed in a form of objective happiness, linking it ultimately to justice, “I think justice belongs in the best class of good, that which should be loved for its own sake and for the sake of its consequences by anyone who is going to be blessed” (358a1-3).&nbsp. Here in this passage, Socrates refers to the best good. the implication is that there are degrees of goodness and that the highest good is the ideal.&nbsp.&nbsp.Further, he refers to justice as one part of this best class of good. the other parts are an objective state of happiness, an honest and objective knowledge of one’s self, and an ability to know what is necessary and unnecessary.&nbsp.&nbsp.

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