July 17, 2022

How Socratic Intellectualism Side-Steps the Is-Ought Problem

by Interfaith

According to Socrates, the wise will do good simply by virtue of their knowledge and wisdom.

Initially, this is a notion that confused me, but now I think I’m beginning to understand it.

Even if we came up with a “bad actor” who desired nothing but to benefit themselves, through proper wisdom they would realize that they would find peace and happiness in giving up vices like greed and pride. In learning to be content with oneself, which is part of being wise in the sense used by Socrates here, one no longer relies as much on external things for that contentment.

This side-steps the is-ought problem because it is applicable to pretty much all individuals and their drives.

Even in the case of those who are pathologically antisocial and said to be lacking a conscience, this causes disorder and suffering in their lives directly due to their unwise behavior. Specifically, people who are pathologically antisocial often complain about being continuously bored, and a high percentage become addicts chasing fleeting highs. Treatment for these individuals often includes pointing out how destructive that behavior actually is, leading to them realizing that they do not need to behave antisocially to be happy and recognizing the self-destructive consequences of behaving immorally.

And, at last, I’ve been freed of the existential confusion that the is-ought gap has created in me for over half a decade.

(Discussion in ‘Philosophy‘ started by Ella S., 12/07/2022)

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