The Wisdom of Socrates

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Socrates was one of the first true intellectuals in human history. The societal conventions of his time condemned intellectual enlightenment. They viewed secular knowledge as an obstruction of the path to spiritual enlightenment which was far superior to any intellectual exploits. Socrates was a revolutionary thinker in that he recognized the benefits and importance of studying temporal elements instead of devoting his life to religion. In the eyes of his contemporaries, Socrates' blatant defiance of tradition and religion as the sole importance of life and thought was so unorthodox that it was punishable by death. According to The Human Record, "Socrates refused to accept the answers of tradition and the way of the past as infallible guides to wisdom and behavior" (Human Record 115). To members of Athenian society, this refusal was completely unacceptable. Even worse to his fellow citizens was Socrates' desire to spread his knowledge and his tendency to encourage others to follow him on his "uncompromising search for truth and goodness of soul" aside from religion (Human Record 119). For his devotion to science, rational thought, secularism, and defiance of religion as life's sole purpose, Socrates' fellow citizens condemned him to death. He was charged with "impiety against the gods and corruption of youth" (Human Record 119). Following his indictment, Socrates was given a final chance to repent- he could terminate his teachings and abandon his pursuit of secular knowledge. However, Socrates was so devoted to his beliefs that he refused his final chance and chose to die to prove his strength in his convictions.

As an Athenian citizen, influenced by the works of Hippocrates, Thuydides, and others, I completely disagree with...

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After considering the testaments of Thucydides and Hippocrates that knowledge is advantageous to the cultural, social, and political advancement and betterment of Athenian society, it is virtually impossible to condemn Socrates to death for his contributions to these important ideas. Socrates stated, "I go about arousing, and urging and reproaching each one of you, constantly alighting upon you everywhere the whole day long" (Human Record 118). If he had not inspired so many people to become thinkers as he was, and to explore secular ideas, Athenian society would not have thrived as it did. In fact, modern society probably would not be as intellectually advanced as it is today had its predecessors such as Socrates, Thucydides, and Hippocrates, listened to the governors of their society and followed their rules prohibiting the pursuit of knowledge.
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