Morality wrongdoing believes they are doing it to benefit

Morality is a broad term that embodies a
particular set of principles, values, and standards of which differentiate and
guide the intentions and actions of human behavior as being good or bad. The
Socratic perspective on wrongdoing and behavior is illustrated in Socrates’s
philosophy that no one willingly commits evil deeds and instead that all evil
acts are a byproduct of human ignorance; in this view, Socrates is expressing
that no individual willingly does wrong. Although this philosophy may seem divergent from typical beliefs and constructs, I
believe Socrates’s philosophy that evil is rooted in ignorance to be true
because every individual that commits a wrongdoing believes they are doing it
to benefit themselves one way or another.

            The heart of Socrates’s philosophy
on evil and ignorance lies in that fact that individuals are always acting out
of self-interest and what in the moment they believe to be beneficial to them. When
concerning evil and wrongdoing this same construct applies; although an
individual is carrying out an unjust act, they are doing it because they feel
that that particular action is going to benefit them and bring about the
greatest amount of gain. However, this also implies that individuals are not
going to commit a wrongdoing or carry out any behavior whatsoever that at the
moment they feel is going to be unbeneficial or harmful to themself. This is
illustrated by the fact that once again, humans instinctively act in regards to
self-interest and whether they are perpetrating a just or unjust act, they are
doing so because they perceive it as being beneficial to them. With that being
said, no individual behaves in a manner that is against his or her own
self-interest and happiness and therefore, one who commits any wrongdoing or
evil act is doing it as a result of ignorance. 

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            It is correct to say that
individuals still decide to commit wrongful acts and behaviors that they know
others think are wrong and unjust (Pecorino,
P. A. (n.d.)). Socrates’s
philosophy illustrates that humans do not deliberately do wrong and
subsequently, do not bring harm to themselves due to once again, self-interest.
For example, a mother goes to the grocery store and steals food in order to
feed her two children. This mother is most likely fully aware that other people
think that what she is doing is wrong; and although the mother may understand
that, she commits the act regardless because in her mind she is acting out in
self-interest and due to the circumstances of needing to feed her children she disregards
the act of stealing as wrongful and as instead beneficial. Therefore, the
mother’s evil act is a consequence of ignorance because she views the act as
good and beneficial at that moment in time. Additionally, it can go one step further
to say that the mother who steals the bread is well aware that other people
think that it is wrong and also that she herself knows that the act is wrong,
but once again, the mother with hungry children sees benefit and good in her
actions and therefore, does not see her particular wrongdoing as harmful or bad
due to the circumstances (Pecorino,
P. A. (n.d.)).

            We all have a powerful instinctive
drive to benefit ourselves, which explains our human ignorance for committing
the wrongful acts that we do. Although, how far does Socrates’s philosophy go
to justify evil acts as rooted in ignorance? Consider the mother who stole food
to feed her two children, that mother may have a conscience and understand that
stealing is wrong, but she dismisses her better judgment and believes that
stealing will grant her a benefit and makes her feel as though the wrongful act
is bringing her good. Now consider an individual without a conscience who does
not experience remorse and who seeks pleasure from inflicting pain and
suffering on others, a sociopath per say. It is without a doubt that a mother
stealing food for her children versus a murderer with a severe distorted mental
functioning is the lesser of the two evils. Consider the horrendous acts that
took place in Concentration Camps by the Nazis during the 1930’s, would evil
acts such as this magnitude still be rooted in human ignorance? When dissecting
the Socratic philosophy, evil acts such as those by the Nazis would still be
considered a precedent of ignorance; in the minds of the Nazis during those
moments in the 1900’s they were seeking to obtain what they believed to be
beneficial and of good cause by committing the evil and malicious acts that
they did. Although one evil in this scenario may have a conscience and one may
not, both were committing wrongdoings in order to benefit themselves and did so
out of self-interest, which prevents them from knowingly doing wrong.

            One could make the argument that Socrates
is wrong in his philosophy that people do evil acts out of ignorance and say
that people commit wrongdoings voluntarily and have the conscience ability to
differentiate and make either the right or wrong decision; such as voluntarily
choosing to steal. Although, Socrates would say that even a wrongful act that
is described by a fault in character doesn’t alter the reality that an
individual consciously committing a wrongful act is still doing so because they
feel the act is going to benefit them, whether they know the act is wrong or
not, which still makes their evil act a result of ignorance. A subsequent
argument one could make is that if evil acts are done voluntarily due to
ignorance, then wrongful acts wouldn’t have consequences and people wouldn’t be
punished. Although, Socrates clearly states in Gorgias, that ignorance does not serve as an excuse for evil
behavior and does not eliminate the need to punish the wrongdoer (“Plato:
Gorgias (excerpt)”). Additionally, Socrates continues on in his conversation
with Polus saying that punishment for evil deeds is a necessity and that
punishment is beneficial for the wrongdoer and in the instance that a wrongdoer
does not receive proper punishment then they carry a burden and as Socrates
puts it, the wrongdoer remains wretched (“Plato: Gorgias (excerpt)”).
Therefore, the argument that Socrates’s philosophy reprieves a wrongdoer from
the need for penalty is erroneous.

            Socrates philosophy on unjust
behavior is that no individual intentionally does evil deeds and that instead
all acts of evil are a result of ignorance. Socrates’s theory stems from the
main concept that individuals commit wrongdoings out of self-interest because
they foresee a beneficial outcome from partaking in an evil act. Socrates’s
philosophy also reveals that evil deeds only harm the wrongdoer whether it be
through punishment or spiritual burden; therefore, no individual is willingly going
to participate in a wrongful act that they know is going to harm them. Although
some may say that Socrates’s philosophy on evil is the result of ignorance has
flaws, I am firm believer in Socrates’s theory due to the fact that humans are
instinctively driven to do things and carry out behaviors, even evil deeds,
that they feel as though will benefit them; which explains why wrongdoings are
a consequence of ignorance.  


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