Plato's Examined Life Term Paper

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SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .
If released from the cave, the light would blind them at first. Upon their return, they would be blinded by the darkness.

In Plato's story, the freed prisoner is the philosopher, who truly leads an examined life. The blinded prisoners lack self-knowledge and the ability to think outside of the box, or in this case, the cave. Plato's theories in both Euthyphro and The Republic strongly tie self-knowledge and critical thinking together to develop an understanding of the examined life.

Faith and Understanding

Understanding and faith seem to be on opposite sides. Yet religious leaders and philosophers base understanding and knowledge upon articles of faith, saying that a man of understanding has wisdom and this understanding comes from faith.

St. Anselm, a Benedictine monk and teacher, created a theory that stress the methodological priority of faith over reason, saying that truth can only be achieved only through "faith seeking understanding." Anselm used this theory to prove the existence of God.

Anselm's famous Ontological Argument holds that God is understood as "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." A being as powerful as God, according to Anselm, absolutely must exist in reality as well as in thought, since otherwise it would in fact be possible to conceive that something greater exists.

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To understand Anselm's theory, it is necessary to possess prior faith. In order to believe and understand that God must truly exist as the simple, unified source of all perfections, which excludes corruption, imperfection, and deception of eve, it is necessary to first have faith.

Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican priest and philosopher, developed a detailed synthesis of Christianity and Aristotelian philosophy that became the official doctrine of Roman Catholic theology in the 1800's.

His views on the nature of God, including the five ways to prove God's existence, are still well-known today. Aquinas' five way are as follows:

Term Paper on Plato's Examined Life According to Assignment

The first way is the Argument From Motion, in which Aquinas concluded from common observation that an object that is in motion is put in motion by some other object or force. Therefore, there must have been an unmoved mover (who is God) who first put things in motion.

The second way begins from experience of an instance of efficient cause, and the third way relies more heavily upon a distinction between uncertain and necessary being. Aquinas's fourth way is a moral argument that begins with the factual claim that we do make judgments about the relative perfection of ordinary things. However, the capacity to do so assumes an absolute standard of perfection to which we compare everything else. The fifth way is the Teleological Argument: the order and arrangement of the natural world bespeaks the deliberate design of an intelligent creator.

Both Anselm and Aquinas largely expanded upon the concepts of both faith seeking understanding and understanding seeking faith. According to Aqinas, there can be no conflict between the beliefs of faith and the discoveries of reason. If there are conflicts, it is because one or both are not being done properly.

Faith is a foretaste of the knowledge that will make us blessed in the life to come," according to Aquinas. In order to gain understanding, there must be faith. Otherwise, neither can exist.

Anselm said that faith seeks understanding. If one has faith, one wants to understand. The two are absolutely correlated and dependent on one another. He was saying that if one believes in God, one would be driven by belief itself to understand what they believe. Faith is not blind nor can it comprehend everything. But it leads to a desire for understanding.

The relationship between faith and understanding is important because faith without understanding cannot endure, and vice versa. Faith is incomplete without understanding. Faith has an obvious dimension of risk and cannot truly be complete. It relies on understanding for its existence.

Genuine faith is humble, and the understanding that belongs to the life of faith must also be a humble understanding, because it simply supported by faith. Undertsanding has limitations and lacks completeness, also. Anselm and Aquinas stress the importance of the relationship between faith and understanding because the two are so dependent on each other. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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