Essay about Socrates

Essay about Socrates

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Socrate's First Accusers and Athenian Law Of all
confrontations in political philosophy, the biggest is the
conflict between philosophy and politics. The problem
remains making philosophy friendly to politics. The
questioning of authoritative opinions is not easily
accomplished nor is that realm of philosophy - the pursuit of
wisdom. Socrates was the instigator of the conflict. While
the political element takes place within opinions about
political life, Socrates asks the question "What is the best
regime and how should I live?" Ancient thought is riddled
with unknowns and can make no such statement as "how
should I live." The Socratic philosophy offers an alternative
and prepares the way for the alternative of absolutes. This
alternative is not without its faults. Socratic philosophy is
plagued by a destructive element. It reduces the authoritative
opinions about political life but replaces it with nothing. This
is the vital stem from which the "Apology of Socrates" is
written. Because of the stinging attack on Athenian life, and
the opinions which they revere so highly, Socrates is placed
on trial for his life. The question now becomes why and in
what manner did Socrates refute the gods and is he quilty?
Socrates, himself, speaks out the accusers charges by saying
"Socrates does injustice and is meddlesome, by investigating
the things under the earth and the heavenly things, and by
making the weaker the stronger and by teaching others these
things" (Plato, 19b;c). This is the charge of the "old"
accusers. It is seen from an example in "The Clouds".
Strepsiades goes to Socrates in order to learn how to
pursuade his son by "making the weaker speech the
stronger" (Aristophanes, 112). Why does Socrates remind
the assembly about the old accusers? It appears improper
for a man on trial to bring about his other 'crimes'.
Aristophanes, in particular, is implicated by Socrates as an
old accuser. "For you yourselves used to see these things in
the comedy of Aristophanes" (Plato, 19c). The poets helped
to shape Greek culture. Poetry was passed on and
perpetuated the city where thought constantly changed.
Philosphy begins in debunking what the city thinks they
know in order to refute the god. It is evident that Socrates is
not guided by the gods of the city. Socrates says "it is not

... middle of paper ...

...ot; (Plato, 23c). In any event,
one concludes that the Delphic Oracle was a definite turning
point in Socrates' life. Perhaps it changes Socrates' interest
from the physical and astronomical studies with moral and
political thought. This turning point brings Socrates into
conflict with the city of Athens. His doubt of the opinions
taken on authority also concerned the cities god and the
cities laws. That made him dangerous in the eyes of the
leaders. Socrates' thought was a painful sting to the glorified
convictions of human conduct that meant so much to the city.
Socrates made the political and moral questions the focus
and theme of his "second sailing" as he suggested in
Aristophanes' "Clouds". By virtue of Socrates' turn,
philosophy now becomes political. The "Apology" presents a
critique of political life from the view of philosophy. Socrates
disrupts prevailing opinions without providing a substantial
opinion to replace it. This may be intentional as to let man
decide between his longings and the necessity of political life.
The problem now is how to make philsoophy friendly to
politics. Whether or not that can be done is not to be
answered here.

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