Socrates was a Wise and Harmless Man

Socrates was a Wise and Harmless Man

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Socrates and the Apology


Some of the best sources of information about Socrates' philosophical views are the early dialogues of his student Plato, who tried to provide a faithful picture of the methods and teachings of the great master. The Apology is one of the many-recorded dialogues about Socrates. It is about how Socrates was arrested and charged with corrupting the youth, believing in no god(s) (Atheism) and for being a Sophist. He attended his trial and put up a good argument. I believe that Socrates was wrongfully accused and should not have been sentenced to death. Within the duration of this document, I will be discussing the charges laid against Socrates and how he attempted to refute the charges.
One of the reasons why Socrates was arrested was because he was being accused of corrupting the minds of the students he taught. I personally feel that it is almost impossible for one person to corrupt the thoughts and feelings of a whole group of people. Improvement comes form a minority and corruption comes from the majority. Socrates is one man (minority) therefore it is less likely the youth have been corrupted by Socrates than by some larger group of people (educators, council members, jurymen etc...).

Socrates was also put on trial for being an Atheist. In the argument Socrates has with Meletus, Socrates gets Meletus to admit that Socrates is Atheist and theist. Considering that both of these practices are totally incompatible, and Meletus admits to both of theses, maybe Meletus does not really understand what he is accusing Socrates of. I understand that back then; not believing in religion was considered a crime but to actually sentence someone to death for being different is totally uncalled for.
Thirdly, because Socrates practiced making weak arguments strong (Sophist).

Socrates was a traveling teacher and talked and challenged everyone he met. Socrates taught the art of persuasive speaking. He did not charge people money like most of the other Sophists did, but he did have similar beliefs as the Sophists. Sophists thought that our minds are cut off from reality and that we are stuck in our own opinions of what the world was like. Socrates believed that reason or nature could not tell us why the world is the way it appears. The Sophists' point of view is best summed up as this: we can never step out of the way things appear.

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We are all stuck in our own little worlds and we each have our own perspective and beliefs. For someone to be charged with this is slightly crazy. To actually think that Socrates was sentenced to death because of the way he viewed the world is insane. Everyone has their own beliefs and ideas and because he talked of them and discussed them with other people should not have gotten him sentenced to death. Not everyone thinks, speaks and acts the same way. I think he was a courageous person for speaking his mind rather than committing a crime.

In Socrates speech in defense for himself he states that he knows he is wise because he can admit that he is ignorant. Socrates claims that because he is ignorant of life after death, he has no aversion to death. He then informs the jury that even after the aquital, he planned on continuing philosophy. Here we see that rhetorical strategy of reversal. Socrates argues that sentencing him to death would more or less harm the jury more than himself considering it would interfere with Socrates "divine mission" in Athens. Socrates claims that the just man must leave politics alone. He then comments on how close the verdict of his sentencing was and begins to think of an alternative penalty other than death. Socrates then suggests that he should be rewarded for what he has done. He suggests that he should receive maintenance at Athens expense. Socrates argues against banishment from Athens and states that he will only continue to practice philosophy and annoy people elsewhere. Socrates claims that the verdict reflects his own refusal to "agree sophistically". "Weep and wail and say unworthy things. It is unworthy to be sevile to escape danger". Socrates then claims that vengeance shall fall upon his executioners. He claimed that instead of executing a critic, the verdict will only make more critics and thus the opposite result will be achieved. His final message was to not stifle criticism and to make themselves as manly as they are. Socrates then comforts those who voted for aquital by suggesting death a blessing. Socrates then states that death is either an eternal dreamless sleep or a migration of the soul from this place to another. Socrates of course states that maybe he will spend his time examining his ideas of his fellow intellectuals. Socrates then claims that nothing can harm a good man.
Personally I feel that Socrates defense was excellent. He proves that he is an intelligent man and that he is capable of thinking and speaking for himself. I feel that he was tried unfairly and that maybe the only reason why he was even arrested in the first place was because Meletus was angry that Socrates made him look and feel like a fool. I think that he was arrested because Meletus is a head strong, narrow minded poet who perhaps became a little upset when someone challenged him about the way he thought and about his beliefs. For someone to become upset for being simply questioned about his or her beliefs is kind of odd. If that is the way you think and feel about certain things, why would you over react over someone asking you why you believed in those things? Perhaps Socrates was simply trying to figure out why people believe in god(s). Socrates was a brave and smart man. He was a master at speaking and instead of sentencing him to death, I think that the people of Athens should have commended him for speaking so freely and openly. They could have learned something from him.

To be sentenced to death for only merely speaking your mind is slightly ridiculous. Socrates was a wise and harmless man who was tried unfairly and should have been given a second chance. I think that the people of Athens should have looked upon him as being brave for speaking his mind. Perhaps if they looked on the bright side of the argument they would have seen that he was his own person. People should have looked upon his thinking as a gateway to opening new doors for the freedom to speak your mind. Who knows, it could have changed the whole city of Athens, maybe even the way the world is today.
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