• Hello Human
    191
    In his Socratic dialogues, (or at the very least those that I know enough about to say this), Plato presents an interesting proposition about virtue: Virtue is just another name for wisdom. So if you are wise, you are virtuous, and vice versa.

    An objection to this is that even though some virtues may be reducible to wisdom, there is at least one virtue that is completely independent from wisdom, the most prominent example one could advance being courage. How can one reduce the sheer willpower behind the virtue of courage to a simple matter of knowing and not knowing, you may ask ?

    To defend Plato's view from the example of courage, one might say that willpower is not in our control. And if it's not in our control, then there is no such thing as a virtue involving having willpower. So the virtue of courage is not really about willpower, perhaps it is more about being wise enough to exploit whatever willpower we have to achieve one's goals.

    But what do you think ? Is virtue really just equal to wisdom, or is there a plurality of virtues, each independent from the other(s) ? Or are all the virtues reducible to something that is not equal to wisdom ?
  • Fooloso4
    3.6k
    The Greek term translated as virtue is arete. It means the excellence of a thing. Human excellence is the realization of human potential. Someone who has attained human excellence is wise.

    Someone who lacks courage has not realized or actualized her potential but this does not mean that courage is the same as human excellence or virtue. In fact, an excess of courage can lead to rashness or even ruthlessness.
  • Tobias
    789
    I would take the opposite route from Fooloso4. Wisdom is indeed the greatest virtue because it means one can rightly assess the right mean of things. Courage is great but it means knowing the mean between cowardice and recklessness. We call someone courageous who knows this and who shows this knowledge is action. However, is it not always preferable to know the right measure of all such virtues? We call wise someone who assesses rightly in differing situation. Wisdom means assessing the right mean between extremes in general whereas courage would mean assessing the right mean in situations of conflict. The first one is more general and therefore a higher virtue.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Courage is great but it means knowing the mean between cowardice and recklessness.Tobias

    I think Aristotle says courage is what makes the other virtues enacted. Knowing the mean is not the same as acting on it.
  • Bartricks
    5.6k
    Presumably wisdom is not a synonym for omniscience?
    It seems to me that wisdom incorporates moral claims. That is, a wise person is someone who knows what it is morally good to know.
    As such a virtuous person will be wise and a wise person will be virtuous, or at least you can't be to some extent wise without being to some extent virtuous.
    But it is fallacious to infer from this that wisdom 'is' virtue. If something occupies space then it will have a shape. But it does not follow that space 'is' shape. Likewise from the fact that being wise involves being virtuous to some degree, does not establish that the two are the same. Indeed, we can explain why the two are found together: to be wise is to know what it is morally good to know.
  • god must be atheist
    4.6k
    . Knowing the mean is not the same as acting on it.Jackson

    Unless you are a mean sort of fella.

    There were three guys from Sparta
    Each had a mean sort of phalla.
    They cleaned up the town
    Their leader went down
    In history books as Fella.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    2.2k
    Virtue is just another name for wisdom. So if you are wise, you are virtuous, and vice versa.Hello Human

    Very simple answer to this. Wisdom is the greatest of the four platonic virtues. It assumes the realization of the three other virtues. Soto have wisdom is to possess all the other virtues. Virtue is simply a category that unfolds onto itself.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Unless you are a mean sort of fella.

    There were three guys from Sparta
    Each had a mean sort of phalla.
    They cleaned up the town
    Their leader went down
    In history books as Fella.
    god must be atheist

    silly
  • Fooloso4
    3.6k
    I would take the opposite route from Fooloso4.Tobias

    Do you mean the opposite route to the same destination or one that leads to the opposite or a different destination?

    I think it important to keep in mind Socrates "human wisdom", which is to say, his ignorance. The question arises as to the possibility of humans attaining "divine wisdom", that is, wisdom that goes beyond knowledge of our ignorance. Put differently, the question is whether the full realization of human nature is possible. It may be that it is something to which we aspire but never realize. Human wisdom would then entail the ability to discern what is best in the absence of knowledge of what is best. Human wisdom, then, requires moderation, an acknowledgement of our fallibility.
  • 180 Proof
    9.7k
    Is virtue really just equal to wisdom, or is there a plurality of virtues, each independent from the other(s) ?Hello Human
    No, they are interrelated, or mutually reinforcing.

    Or are all the virtues reducible to something that is not equal to wisdom?
    Adaptive habits.

    NB: Wisdom is, I suspect, mastery over (any or some, many or all) maladaptive habits of judgment and conduct. Thus, we fools only seek ("love") wisdom but are never wise ourselves. :fire:
  • Agent Smith
    7.4k
    The 4 cardinal virtues:

    1. Sophia/Prudentia
    2. Fortitudo
    3. Iustitia
    4. Temperantia

    Are these 4 virtues internally consistent?
  • Agent Smith
    7.4k
    I suspect180 Proof

    :fire:
  • Antony Nickles
    568
    Since I donate, I can attach files; so attached is the Meno, by Plato, which is I believe the text under discussion about the knowledge of virtue. The link is here.

    At the start, Plato says something that will sound familiar: that he does not know what virtue is, or more interestingly, that he can't remember the knowledge (from Gorgias). But he believes Meno can speak as an expert (as if any of us can), even though "I [Plato] have never yet met anyone else who did know." And then he continues "Speak and do not begrudge us, so that I may have spoken a most unfortunate untruth when I said that I had never met anyone who knew, if you and Gorgias are shown to know." (71d)

    In saying that they must be "shown" to know, Plato reveals that he already has requirements for what he will accept before beginning his questions; spoiler: virtue will not meet them. As an example, Meno says each thing has its own virtue, but Plato wants virtue to be singular, universal to any particulars (72), as, he claims, "all human beings are good in the same way" (73c). It will turn out that Plato never finds this singular quality, getting sidetracked on what virtue would need to consist of to be such a thing; so the Meno is more an epistemological dictum than an investigation of ethical action.

    The threshold is that virtue must be able to be taught--rather than something that could be found (say, within oneself, in action)--thus to be a kind of knowledge (in the sense of information), outside of which there is "nothing good" (87d). (Wittgenstein comes to the same conclusion in the Tractatus, because he is also projecting beforehand the criteria of certainty, universality, etc., and rejecting anything that does not meet those requirements.)

    This is the point, at 88d-89, at which Plato comes to the conclusion that virtue must be a kind of wisdom as opposed to ignorance, though not of knowledge, but as a lack of "discipline" that is "reckless", "foolish" (id.), as if unconsidered, without first understanding. These qualities could be considered the realization (lessons) of ordinary ethical guidelines, however, Plato rejects that virtue is teachable because he assumes, as, at 97, that it must have "correctness" or "right"; something that can be "tied down" which will "remain" and "guide" us. This desire for predictability and consistency comes from a need for the consequences of our actions to be known in advance; that, with knowledge, we could act and always be judged correct or right. Without meeting those requirements we are "soothsayers" or "prophets", simply guessing.

    Of note though, he says "they have no knowledge of what they are saying", as if what allowed for virtue was a kind of self-awareness (through our language, of our culture's judgment of what is said), that the "knowledge" he seeks is not something new or novel, but a "recollection" (81d). He goes on to stun, or "numb", someone who volunteers their answers by bringing them to be at a "loss" (84b)(in this case, to do mathematics, something that must be certain, which is another forced criteria of virtue for Plato). Plato calls our unexamined first impressions "opinions" (85d), but the crux is not that opinion (as in, belief) is opposed to knowledge (as, justified certainty), but that the loss or grief that we come to requires us to look for something we do not seem to have (84c), but something we come to as if we are remembering what we already know (as if from another life (81b)). Wittgenstein will do this by investigating the implications of the practices of our ordinary (though unexamined) lives through our language for them, making their structure and criteria explicit; in a sense known, though as: aware, realized.

    Also, Plato says that those who are statesmen--leaders of themselves as it were--cannot make another a statesman; as if our virtue was ours alone to make, that we create ourselves, as if virtuous is something we become, exhibit. Plato's requirements for knowledge, however, force the matter into either knowledge or shadow, insisting that we find the nature of virtue but leaving the matter for us to answer (perhaps as if for ourselves--with our selves--say, when we are at a loss).
    Attachment
    plato_meno (409K)
  • Fooloso4
    3.6k


    Plato sets up what is at issue in Socrates' opening statement. He attributes the Thessalians' reputation for wisdom to their love of the sophist Gorgias because of his wisdom, and his ability to give "a bold and grand answer to any question you may be asked, as experts are likely to do." Socrates will not provide such an answer to the question of whether virtue can be taught. He claims that not only he, but neither Gorias nor anyone else knows what virtue is. The dialogue Gorgias raises doubts as to his wisdom and virtue. He is a skilled rhetorician who can give bold and grand answers, although the truth of those answers is something else.

    But it is not Gorgias but Meno himself we must look at. Xenophon gives a damning account of his character. Meno's question can be rephrased to ask whether he can be taught virtue, that is, whether an ambitious and ruthless young man can be taught to be virtuous. Further, Meno thinks he already knows what virtue is. In line with his ambitions he thinks it is the ability of a man to manage public affairs for the benefit of himself and his friends and harm his enemies.

    Socrates' acknowledgement that he does not know stands is stark contrast. Meno thinks he knows what virtue is and will do what he thinks he knows is virtuous. Socrates does not know and thus will live the examined life. He strives to live virtuously through examination, knowing that he does not know.

    He brings up the bees not simply to make the point that Meno is giving him a swarm rather than a single answer to what virtue is, but to raise the question of the nature of bees. Behind the question of the nature of bees is the question of the nature of man. The virtue of a man is not distinct from the nature of man.

    Regarding the myth of recollection ( anamnesis ) if one does not already have some sense of virtue how can it be recognized? If virtue is completely absent then it cannot be taught. It must in some sense already be present in a person. Meno's initial question is revealing:

    ... can virtue be taught? Or is it not teachable but the result of practice, or is it neither of these, but men possess it by nature or in some other way?


    What does it mean for virtue to be teachable? It is not to putting knowledge in the soul in which virtue is absent. Teaching and practice are related. It is not teaching or practice, but teaching through practice. It is only if men do to some extent possess it by nature that it can be fostered.
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k
    I have deleted my reply to the topic. This topic and the person created it dit not worth it.
    It is the second time @Hello Human has not responded to my reply, although both my replies were positive and approving.

    I also saw that he/she actually did not respond to anyone else in this topic after 12 days he/she created it. Think also that he/she explicitly asked at the end "But what do you think?"

    I suggest that you also delete yours. (Replace the text of your comment with just a dot and save it.) But then you might have some reason not to.
  • Hello Human
    191


    :up:

    However, it seems to me that the issue is not yet solved. A link between virtue and wisdom has definitely been established, but the strength of the link still seems unknown, as the possibility of virtue being equivalent to moral knowledge still has not been ruled out.
  • Hello Human
    191
    The Greek term translated as virtue is arete. It means the excellence of a thing. Human excellence is the realization of human potential. Someone who has attained human excellence is wise.Fooloso4

    :up:

    Someone who lacks courage has not realized or actualized her potential but this does not mean that courage is the same as human excellence or virtue. In fact, an excess of courage can lead to rashness or even ruthlessness.Fooloso4

    I think that "courage" may actually refer to the golden mean between rashness and cowardice as opposed to referring to what is measured by "rashness" and "cowardice. What is measured is willpower. A lack of it is called cowardice, an overabundance of it is called rashness, and a right amount of it is called courage. By using the terms in this way, courage becomes a part of human excellence, just as wisdom is. So perhaps the whole issue is just a matter of arbitrary definitions.
  • Hello Human
    191


    Then someone who knows that fighting 10 men attacking a bank alone is reckless, that doing nothing is cowardly, and that calling the police is the right mean is courageous, even if he does not call the police out of fear ? What I'm trying to say is, sometimes, knowing is not enough to start doing. I can very well know that ghosts don't exist, yet continue being scared of them at night.

    I think that to defend the "wisdom is the greatest of all virtues" thesis, there is a seeming gap between knowing the right thing and doing the right thing that needs to be explained in a way that reduces all good actions to wisdom.
  • Hello Human
    191
    Adaptive habits.

    NB: Wisdom is, I suspect, mastery over (any or some, many or all) maladaptive habits of judgment and conduct. Thus, we fools only seek ("love") wisdom but are never wise ourselves. :fire:
    180 Proof

    I think that the idea of adaptive habits may actually be an an abstraction of the virtues as opposed to something that something the virtues may be reduced to. Or perhaps it is both.
  • Fooloso4
    3.6k
    I think that "courage" may actually refer to the golden mean between rashness and cowardiceHello Human

    This is Aristotle's formulation. What 'the mean' means, however, is not so simple. For more see Joe Sachs article on Aristotle's Ethics in the IEP Here.
  • Hello Human
    191
    Are these 4 virtues internally consistent?Agent Smith

    I think we can all agree that they are at least.
  • Tobias
    789
    What I'm trying to say is, sometimes, knowing is not enough to start doing. I can very well know that ghosts don't exist, yet continue being scared of them at night.Hello Human

    You can, but would that be virtuous? It hibk that in this ethical scheme the right thing to do is to try to get rid of this phobia
  • Yohan
    634
    With analogy of a garden, virtue can be like good fruit bearing plants. Weeds like bad qualities that don't bear fruit.
    Wisdom might be the process of discriminating between the two, cultivating the garden in order to prevent and eliminate bad plants, and plant and maintain good seeds/plants.
  • Agent Smith
    7.4k
    I think we can all agree that they are at least.Hello Human

    I see. :up:
  • Hello Human
    191
    This desire for predictability and consistency comes from a need for the consequences of our actions to be known in advance; that, with knowledge, we could act and always be judged correct or right. Without meeting those requirements we are "soothsayers" or "prophets", simply guessing.Antony Nickles

    Unfortunately for us, doing the right thing always involves at least some amount of guessing. So perhaps Plato desires something that we cannot ever completely have.
  • Hello Human
    191
    virtue to be singular, universal to any particularsAntony Nickles

    :up:
  • Hello Human
    191
    Regarding the myth of recollection ( anamnesis ) if one does not already have some sense of virtue how can it be recognized? If virtue is completely absent then it cannot be taught. It must in some sense already be present in a person.Fooloso4

    Good point. But that does not rule out the possibility that the sense of virtue may actually be something that originated completely from within the virtuous. Yes, for virtue to be taught at any given moment, the student must already have some sense of virtue at that moment. But only at that moment. So that sense of virtue does not necessarily come from within the person, perhaps it is acquired when someone endowed with reason encounters some particular circumstances. But then again, reason is a virtue. So maybe sense of virtue = reason.
  • Hello Human
    191


    Sorry for not answering to you all earlier. I’ll do my best to answer faster from now on.
  • Hello Human
    191
    You can, but would that be virtuous? It hibk that in this ethical scheme the right thing to do is to try to get rid of this phobiaTobias

    The right thing to do is indeed to get rid of the phobia, but is knowing that you must get rid of it sufficient to get rid of it, or are there other factors other than knowledge at play ?
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