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Socrates' defense of his life and work as recounted in Plato's Apology is an ideal work for moving young people to consider their moral responsibilities to themselves and others. When read as a biography of Socrates, it invites reflection on the importance of character formation and encourages the belief that we can make of ourselves the kind of persons we would like to be…
How could Socrates have achieved such a secure sense of self-worth How indeed, unless he really did acquire the habits of character and moral outlook that made of his life a blessing to himself and to those around him. Good Sir, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city with the greatest reputation for both wisdom and power; are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation and honours as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom or truth, or the best possible state of your soul (Blackenship, 29e)
He immediately repeats the point by announcing that he will reproach anyone who "attaches little importance to the most important things and greater importance to inferior things." (Blackenship, 30a) He sees himself as one sent by the god to redirect the attention of his fellow citizens, turning them away from an obsession with self-destructive and socially disintegrating goals, and redirecting their attention toward those objects that will make them truly happy. He drives home the point yet a third time.
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