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S Socrates Guilty, or Not - Essay Example

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(Professor) (Subject) Is Socrates guilty, or not? Socrates is one of the greatest classical Greek philosophers who lived between 469BC-399BC. He has been thought of as one of the founders of Western Philosophy. Socratic Method and Socratic irony have grown out of his teachings…
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S Socrates Guilty, or Not
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S Socrates Guilty, or Not

Yes, Socrates was found guilty by the court of his time. A person can be held guilty or innocent of any crime committed, but the validity of the judgement is as good as the validity of the court structure in which the person was tried. Before going on to answer if Socrates is guilty or not, it is first necessary to understand the legal circumstances in which he was tried. Therefore, the societal norms and standards of time must be understood along with the how legitimate the accusers were and the nature of crimes that he was accused of. Socrates was mainly accused of two charges: corruption of youth and impiety. Following extract explains what exactly Socrates was accused of: Socrates commits injustice and is a busybody, in that he investigates the things beneath the earth and in the heavens, makes the weaker argument the stronger, and teaches these things to others. (Morgan, 2005, 47). Socrates was first charged with impiety. That is, he was portrayed to be a person who did not believe in the conventional Gods of Athens and instead introduced deities of his own. In the literal sense, impiety means that Socrates totally did not believe in God at all. But this accusation is not even remotely true and Socrates himself has clarified it in his defence. He was of the strong belief that Apollo communicated with him through a divine voice. He has stated that he was stationed in Athens by the Gods and they wanted him to question people’s wisdom. But if, when the God stationed me here, as I am thoroughly convinced he did, to live practicing philosophy, examining myself and others, I had – for fear of death or anything else – abandoned my station. (Morgan, 2005, 54) According to this argument it is clear that Socrates did believe in the Gods. So it is not possible for him to be an atheist and at the same time believe in God. This would be contradictory to each other. Also he has not introduced any new Gods of his own. Constantly throughout his trial he has demonstrated his belief in God. Hence, the accusation of him being an impiety is false. The second charge on Socrates was that he was corrupting the youth with his teachings. His accusers argued that in doing so, the very fabric of the Athenian society was attacked. But this is not true. Socrates believed that everything needs to be questioned and analysed. Therefore, instead of accepting and bowing down to those who were in power and had authority, he questioned them. He questioned the knowledge of the people who had the reputation of being wise. He believed that his main role in life was to question the wisdom of other people. In doing so, he believed he could expose those who had falsely claimed to be wise and knowledgeable. This ideology of Socrates cannot be viewed as a crime, neither in today’s world nor during Socrates’ time. It is very important for a nation to question the legitimacy of those in power. Hence, this was a false accusation on Socrates. The accusation of corrupting the youth was more a result of vengeance by those in power whose legitimacy Socrates had questioned. The artisans, poets, politicians, etc were all offended by this attitude of Socrates. Socrates had made it his job to make fools out of the powerful and exposed their lack of wisdom and knowledge by questioning their speeches and acts. This did not go down well with the people with power he targeted. Hence, he was ... Read More
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