The Nature of Reality and Philosophy

Philosophers from the beginning of philosophic inquiry have been interested in determining the nature of reality and how human beings come to know that reality, assuming that they can. Metaphysics is the attempt to present a coherent and comprehensive explanation of reality, and epistemology is the theory of knowledge, of how human beings learn what they learn and how they can know that what they learn is true. Different philosophers have had different explanations for these concepts. Various theories had been postulated by the time Plato suggested a different view of reality, that it was imperfect and was only a reflection of an ideal.

In the dialogues Apology, Crito, Euthyphro, and Phaedo, Plato addresses the events leading up to the death of Socrates, his mentor, and the injustices visited on that individual by a society that did not understand his method of teaching. Inherent in these dialogues is the view that the society of the time has lost sight of the true values supported by the gods, while Socrates has only attempted to revive them in the youth. Plato presents an explicit statement of the relationship between the individual and society--even an unjust society--in the form of the "Apology," the statement of Socrates to the court that finally sentences him to death. The speech represents the conflict between the power of the state and the integrity of the individual, specifically in terms of the right to think and explore. The court gives Socrates an out



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