Desirable social behaviors, while essential for individuals to be able to acclimate and be accepted in the public environment, can be very subjective. What is acceptable and prevalent in one culture may very well be deemed offensive in another. A modern example is our “thumbs up” gesture. In some parts of the world, this is considered the international sign language equivalent of what we would call the “flipping the bird” gesture done with the middle finger. Aristotle, Plato, and Sophocles refined the basic tenets and standards of education and the people of their time conceived it.
Education, both the subject and method, were of great interest to Plato. He regards education explicitly in The Republic and indirectly in The Symposium. The layout of The Symposium is that each speaker’s presentation is more intricate and involved than the speaker who preceded him. This incline in degree of maturity with the discussion can be equated to education as well, such lower to higher grades of schooling. Plato asserted Phaedrus’ summation of love as that which controls the actions of a human being. According to Phaedrus, a person’s primary motivation to act nobly is to win favor with someone else. Examples of this can be seen from early childhood well into elder years, including parental obedience, dating etiquette, and professional work habits. Plato’s primary point of focus in The Symposium is his contradiction of the Socratic method of learning. According to Plato, a distinction should be in place between student and instructor. Furthermore, the instructor should have total knowledge about whatever subject the student is seeking to learn about.
Socrates boldly declared that all people innately have the capability to discover all that can be known. He went on to contend that the value of a thought, concept, and indeed a person itself is measured by its ability to make the thinker more content and satisfied. This defied the popular notion that these were judged by standards set by legislators and the even the gods. This unorthodox and generally unwelcome line of thinking earned Socrates the scorn of some of his prominent peers, but also a place in philosophical history as a seeker of truth of a grand example for others of like mind to follow. The Symposium compiled all of the processes and tactics of education as perceived by ancient Greek society. Socrates found applicable connections to all of the other speeches and surmised that, in the end, people inevitably decide they want to act virtuously, nobly, and kind.
“Man is a political animal.” This popular quote from Aristotle succinctly explains his notion that people are not alone but in association with others. By Aristotle’s definition, the polis’ primary reason for being was to enable each person within the polis to recognize and reach their full potential. Greek polis’ (city-states) were run and inhabited by a citizenry within certain...