Socrates Apologizes Essay

This essay has a total of 1743 words and 6 pages.

Socrates Apologizes

An Apology From Socrates' The Apology is Socrates' defense at his trial. As the dialogue
begins, Socrates notes that his accusers have cautioned the jury against
Socrates'eloquence, according to Socrates, the difference between him and his accusers is
that Socrates speaks the truth. Socrates distinguished two groups of accusers: the earlier
and the later accusers. The earlier group is the hardest to defend against, since they do
not appear in court. He is all so accused of being a Sophist: that he is a teacher and
takes money for his teaching. He attempts to explain why he has attracted such a
reputation. The oracle was asked if anyone was wiser than Socrates was. The answer was no,
there was no man wiser. Socrates cannot believe this oracle, so he sets out to disprove it
by finding someone who is wiser. He goes to a politician, who is thought wise by him self
and others. Socrates does not think this man to be wise and tells him so. As a
consequence, the politician hated Socrates, as did others who heard the questioning. "I am
better off, because while he knows nothing but thinks that he knows, I neither know nor
think that I know" (Socrates). He questioned politicians, poets, and artisans. He finds
that the poets do not write from wisdom, but by genius and inspiration. Meletus charges
Socrates with being "a doer of evil, and corrupter of the youth, and he does not believe
in the gods of the State, and has other new divinities of his own." In his examination of
Meletus, Socrates makes three main points: 1) Meletus has accused Socrates of being the
only corrupter, while everyone else improves the youth. Socrates then uses an analogy: a
horse trainer is to horses as an improver is to the youth. The point is that there is only
one improver, not many. 2) If Socrates corrupts the youth, either it is intentional or
unintentional. No one would corrupt his neighbor intentionally, because he would harm
himself in the process. If the corruption was unintentional, then the court is not the
place to resolve the problem. The other possibility is that he does not corrupt them at
all. 3) In frustration, Meletus accuses Socrates of being "a complete atheist," at the
same time he claims Socrates teaches new gods. Thus, Meletus contradicts himself. Socrates
argues that fear of death is foolish, because it is not known if death is a good or an
evil, thus there is no reason to fear death. Socrates claims that his mission is in
service to God. This is to condemn people's pursuit of money, honor, and reputation, while
ignoring wisdom, truth, and the improvement of the soul. When talking about politicians,
he states that he was a Senator once, and opposed the majority when several generals were
brought to trial. He points out that several of the "corrupted youth." And their fathers
were present, but none of them were accusing him; rather, they were there in his defense.
Socrates refuses to ask for pity. He does not throw himself on the mercy of the court.
Many would bring in their children to win pity. However, he does mention that he has three
young children. He tells the jury about their responsibility to ignore the appeals to pity
and judge the truth. Despite Socrates' speech, the jury finds him guilty as charged.
Meletus proposes death as punishment. Instead, Socrates proposes retirement in a home for
benefactors of the state. He examines possible penalties: death, imprisonment, a fine, or
exile. Then, he realizes that exile is not an option since he believes that "The
unexamined life is not worth living." He finally proposes a fine of 30 minae, guaranteed
by Crito, Plato, and others. The jury sentences him to death. Socrates remarks that his
internal, guiding voice, which at times would warn him to refrain from certain actions,
had not once interrupted his actions in his defense. He argues that death might be a good:
either it is a dreamless sleep, or he will travel to the place of the dead where he can
question anyone and not be executed for it. He states: "No evil can happen to a good man."
He asks the jury to punish his sons, and provide guidance. If so, then he will have
received justice. "We go our ways: me to die you to live; only God knows which is better."
Throughout the Apology, Socrates believes himself to be a "teacher, "though he does not
say that of himself. He finds reputed wise men and questions them. If Socrates finds that
they believe themselves to be wiser than they really are, he points out their mistake,
thus educates them and himself. This allows Socrates to learn when he finds other people
who know more about a subject than he. Socrates tells the judges that he will not be found
guilty because of "evidence" and testimony; if he is found guilty, it will be because of
the reputation that he has obtained. As Socrates deals with the charges, he is constantly
talking about himself. If Socrates wanted to appease the judges so that he would not be
found guilty, he could have made up or omit the parts about himself that caused so much
trouble. The fact that Socrates knows that he is being persecuted for who he is and that
he honestly describes him self, shows that he is staying true to himself and his beliefs
through his trial. Through reason, Socrates is constantly searching for the truth of what
others think. When Meletus accuses Socrates of not believing in any gods, Socrates then
uses reason to refute him. Socrates tells a story about an oracle, which he states that he
believes in, and says that since an oracle is a divine thing he must believe in
divinities. Socrates used reason to question Meletus and led him to state inconsistent
statements: (1) Socrates corrupts the youth intentionally. (2) Nobody intentionally harms
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