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Plato's Apology - Essay Example

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1. Progression of Socrates’ mission:
1.1. Socrates’ mission started when Chaerephon, Socrates’ Athenian friend, asked the oracle at Delphi if there was anybody wiser than Socrates, to which the oracle answered that there was none. …
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Platos Apology
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Plato's Apology

1.2. Socrates’ method was to approach every known wise man and interview him in order to find one wiser than him. In asking a series of questions, he is able to deduce the speaker’s wisdom (21c) 1.3. Socrates found that when he probed each wise man with questions, he always discovered a fault in his ideas, which showed him not wiser than Socrates (21d-e) 1.4. Socrates surmised what the Delphic oracle meant by him being wiser than the other ‘wise men.’ “I am wiser than that other fellow, because neither of us knows anything of great value; but he thinks he knows a thing when he doesn’t; whereas I neither know it in fact, nor think that I do,” thereby making him wiser in that single respect (21d). 2. Socrates’ defense: 2.1. Against the old accusations 2.1.1. Socrates was accused of receiving money for teaching. While he denied it, he said that there is nothing dishonourable about this (19e to 20a). 2.1.2. The accusation of being too inquisitive – a “busybody” (19c) – Socrates simply denied, and countered that his accusers were angry at him because he unmasked their lack of wisdom. 2.2. Against the new accusations (by Meletus) 2.2.1. On the charge that Socrates corrupted the young, Socrates asked Meletus if he believed the laws, the judges, the Councillors, the people in the Assembly, all contributed to the improvement of the young, Meletus answered yes, and that only Socrates corrupted them (24e-25a). Socrates drew a parallel with horse trainers, and showed that normally, majority of influences would tend to be bad and the few good. This showed Meletus charge is not for the welfare of the young, but for his own spite (25c). 2.2.2. On the charge that Socrates was an atheist because he believed in demigods, Socrates pointed out that this was a contradiction in itself, since to believe in demigods was to believe in God, and therefore he could not be an atheist at the same time (26a-27e). 3. When Socrates proposed his own punishment, he first argued that what he had done was to provide a good for others, for which his punishment should actually be some “benefit” (36d) such as “free meals in the Pryteneum” (37a). One might say that by such levity, Socrates was treating the entire matter trivially; this is hard to imagine, however, since he was a perceptive and wise man and could appreciate the gravity of the situation and the seriousness of his adversaries. One could only deduce that he was being brutally honest and rational in asserting that he deserved to be rewarded rather than punished, for the good he had done to others, and treating no one unjustly (37b). 4. Socrates’ view of death is a blessing, not an evil (40c) and the afterlife can only be one of two things – a non-existence, or transformation of the soul to a different world. If it were the first, then the dead person will have no awareness at all, like a deep sleep where the sleeper did not even dream, which is then “a marvellous gain” (40d). If death were so, then Socrates would count it to be a most “agreeable” thing comparable to a single night’s rest. On the other hand, if death were a transformation then he counts it as the greatest blessing, to be rid of the false “jurors” who ruled against him and instead be in the presence of the demigods and great men who lived righteous lives (41a). By so dissecting the possibilities of the afterlife, Socrates is able to comfort his friends with his vision of death. He goes to meet death as a great adventure, or at the very least a restful sleep. Therefore, Socrates did not fear death, but only saw it as ... Read More
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