The apology of Socrates, By Plato

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The apology of Socrates, By Plato

The Apology is Plato's recollection and interpretation of the Trial of Socrates which happened in 399 BC. In this dialogue Socrates explains who he is and what kind of life he led. The Greek word "apologia" means "explanation" -- it is not to be confused with "apologizing" or "being sorry" for one's actions. Plato’s Apology is a reconstruction of the trial of Socrates. Socrates was accused of several wrong doings by a jury made up of the men considered to be wise and influential Athenians. During the trial, the court addressed issues such as Socrates’ views on death. Traditionally, death is view solely as a negative and the manifestation of evil. Socrates questioned this theory of death and dying. He proposed that death was, in turn, a good thing. Socrates figured that there were two outcomes of death. One outcome being that through dying one ceases to exist and no longer has any awareness of anything whatsoever. In the second outcome, one’s soul experiences a sort of transformation and exchanges the present world for another. Neither of the two outcomes gives the impression that they would be negative or evil encounters. Socrates’ peers strongly opposed this idea and any idea that didn’t comply with their traditions and society norms. Socrates passionately defended his beliefs through well-articulated arguments that truly contradicted the norms of society. Socrates stated that if there is no awareness in death, and then death would seem nothing more than a deep sleep with no dreams.

During this sleep like state, the person would have no consciousness of anything at all. Socrates argued that a night of sleep spent without dreams is spent more soundly than those nights spent having dreams. Therefore, in death, person would feel as if they were simply experiencing a restful night’s sleep. Also, this eternal sleep would seem to be no longer than a single night, thus nothing negative would be experienced by the deceased. With the second possible outcome of death, the soul would undergo a transformation and it would feel as if one was taking a trip to another world. Upon entering this new world, Socrates felt that he would be able to meet those who are truly judges and be rid of the men in the current world who, falsely, consider themselves to be judges. Another thing that caught my attention is Socrates found the universal nature of human beings. All of us think that he is the most intelligent human in the world and no one can understand anything as he can. Maybe there are some people somewhere who are wiser than him (Socrates) but they are not around him (Socrates). Socrates said, “I am wiser than this man: neither of us knows anything that is really worth knowing, but he thinks that he has knowledge when he has not, while I, having no knowledge, do not think I have. I seem, at any rate, to be a little wiser than he is on this point: I do not think that I know what I do not know.” With this speech he directly attacked the so called wise people of all time. (I’ve got to admit it this man was wise and obviously good at what he was saying. Let’s say it he was a true philosopher.) Every human is the same. God gave us all some talent. No one is more intelligent than the others. Who understand it, he become is the wisest. With this document Plato give us an overview perhaps on what he was thinking or thought of Socrates. It’s really ambiguous how his perfective/view about Socrates could have been very different from the judge in the trials. I sort of think that he admire Socrates in some type of way; Plato wrote this very carefully. The details in this secondary document are almost exaggerated because Plato wrote it in 360 B.C, a lot of years after the trial happened so basically it’s not a primary source.

 I found that the main reasons of accusing Socrates was not believe in the old gods, the way at that they used to worship the god at that time in athens and corrupting the youth of Athens. In those days, it was uncommon for anyone to go against the beliefs that were brought upon them. Miletus sued Socrates for voluntarily corrupting the young. It’s stupid to sue someone just because they don’t believe in your beliefs.

Prologue (17a-19a): The first sentence sets the tone and direction for the entire dialogue. Socrates, in addressing the men of Athens, states that he almost forgot who he was. The speeches of his accusers had led him to this point. The dialogue will thus be a kind of "recollecting" by Socrates of who he is. That is to say, the Apology will become Socrates' answer to the question: "WHO IS SOCRATES?" The First False Charges (19a - 24a) A. The Charges and Their Assignment (19a-20c). The first "charges" against Socrates arose from general prejudices that surrounded him over the years. These general accusations were that Socrates was: a “physicalist” and a “sophist”. The charge of "investigating things beneath the earth and in the skies" belongs to physicalists like Thales and Anaxagoras. The charge of "making the weaker argument appear the stronger" belongs to sophists like Georgia’s, Hippias, and Evanus. In truth, Socrates is not a Physicalist and Socrates IS NOT a Sophist. Because what Socrates was doing was just blasphemed according to the people in the trial. It’s not wise to go against the Gods.

Socrates' Art and the Delphic Oracle (20c-23c) the false images of Socrates arose because people misunderstood his true activity. Socrates explains this activity by relating a story about the Delphic Oracle. The Saying of the Delphic Oracle -- A friend of Socrates' went to the Oracle and asked the priestess "Who is the wisest of mortals?" and the priestess replied: "Socrates is the wisest”. When Socrates heard this he was surprised, since he thought of himself as "most ignorant." The Testing of the Delphic Oracle. After some hesitation, he sought to show the saying wrong by finding someone wiser than he. He began to question various people, including politicians, poets, and craftsmen. In each encounter the person made a claim that he was in possession of some kind of wisdom or absolute knowledge. The knowledge relates to the spheres of what might be called value, the problems of God, the Good, and the Beautiful. The Truth of the Delphic Oracle: After "testing" the saying of the god, Socrates became aware of the truth of the saying that "Socrates is most wise". It can be expressed as follows: Socrates was most wise because he was AWARE of his ignorance. (This is how Socratic Wisdom is related to Socratic Ignorance. And, in a profound sense, those around Socrates, those who claimed “knowledge" in the sphere of values, were ignorant of their ignorance.

How the Charges Arose (23c-24a) In the course of Socrates' verification of the Delphic Oracle, many people had their beliefs and values questioned and cast into doubt. The response of many to this experience was confusion and anger. Over the years, this anger took the form of a general resentment against Socrates. The Specific Charges (24b - 28a). The charges made by Miletus and Anytus were that Socrates was guilty of: a corruption of the youth.

“I know, I do not know,” is one of Socrates’ most notable quotes. These few words can explain the basis of Socrates’ views and philosophies. In fact, his quotation is a view point in itself. These six clever little words allow Socrates to preserve his freedom and avoid responsibility. In the Apology, an account written by Plato, many of Socrates’ ethical beliefs are brought to the surface. Socrates explains his outlook on the afterlife and justice. In some ways Socrates seems to contradict his most notable quote, as well as, his stance on personal ethics

Socrates’ view on justice differs from public opinion. Socrates thinks that receiving unjust actions only harm the body, but performing unjust actions harm the soul, which is worse. In terms of hierarchy, most people would place the protection of their body above the protection of their soul. In my opinion, harming the soul automatically harms the body. I believe that the body cannot survive without the soul and the soul cannot survive without the body. When it comes to our bodies, we should be more prudent, because the soul needs the body. The body acts like an outlet and is a source of survival for the soul. The body also provides the soul with protection. Therefore, in order to protect your soul, you must protect your body, even if that means you must act unjustly meaning even though you have to do something awful or not in the common norms.


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