Apology: Socrates Defense (translated)

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For his self-defence, Socrates first eliminates any claim that he is a wise man. He says that Chaerephon, reputed to be impetuous, went to the Oracle of Delphi and asked her, the Pythia, to tell him of anyone who was wiser than Socrates. The Pythia answered to Chaerephon that there was no man wiser. On learning of that oracular pronouncement, Socrates says he was astounded, because, on the one hand, it is against the nature of the Oracle to lie, but, on the other hand, he knew he was not wise. Therefore, Socrates sought to find someone wiser than himself, so that he could take that person as evidence to the Oracle at Delphi.

Hence why Socrates minutely queried everyone who appeared to be a wise person. In that vein, he tested the minds of politicians, poets, and scholars, for wisdom; although he occasionally found genius, Socrates found no one who possessed wisdom; yet, each man was thought wise by the people, and each man thought himself wise; therefore, he Socrates was the better man, because he was aware that he was not wise.

About corrupting Athenian youth, Socrates explained that the young, rich men of the city of Athens have little to do with their time.

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They therefore follow him about the city, observing his questioning of intellectual arguments in dialogue with other intellectual men. In turn, the young men imitate the method of Socrates. Moreover, the embarrassed men, whose arguments Socrates examined and found wanting, do not know how to avoid the ridicule of exposure as pretenders to wisdom. To not lose face, the beardless lads re-state the prejudicial, stock accusations against Socrates, that he is a morally abominable man who corrupts the youth of Athens with sophistry and atheism.

In his defence, Socrates said, "For those who are examined, instead of being angry with themselves, are angry with me! The Apology of Socrates , by Plato, is a Socratic dialogue in three parts that cover the Trial of Socrates BC : i the legal self-defence of Socrates, ii the verdict of the jury, and iii the sentence of the court.

Socrates begins his legal defence by telling the jury that their minds were poisoned by his enemies, when they the jury were young and impressionable. That his false reputation as a sophistical philosopher comes from his enemies, all of whom are malicious and envious of him, yet must remain nameless — except for the playwright Aristophanes , who lampooned him Socrates as a charlatan-philosopher in the comedy play The Clouds BC.

About corrupting the rich, young men of Athens, Socrates argues that deliberate corruption is an illogical action. That the false accusations of his being a corrupter of youth began at the time of his obedience to the Oracle at Delphi , and tells how Chaerephon went to the Oracle, to ask her the priestess if there was a man wiser than Socrates. That when Chaerephon reported to him that the Oracle said there is no wiser man, he Socrates interpreted that divine report as a riddle — because he was aware of possessing no wisdom "great or small", and that lying is not in the nature of the gods.

Socrates then sought to solve the divine paradox — that an ignorant man also could be the wisest of all men — in effort to illuminate the meaning of the Oracles' categorical statement: that he is the wisest man in the land. After systematically interrogating the politicians, the poets, and the craftsmen, Socrates determined that the politicians were impostors; that the poets did not understand their own poetry; and that the craftsmen, like prophets and seers, did not understand the things they spoke.

In that light, Socrates saw himself as spokesman for the Oracle at Delphi 22e. He asked himself if he would rather be an impostor, like the "wise people" he interrogated, or if he would rather be himself, Socrates of Athens. As the defendant under trial, Socrates tells the jury that he would rather be himself than be anyone else. That in searching for a man wiser than himself, his questioning earned him the dubious reputation of social gadfly to the city of Athens.

Having addressed the social prejudices against him, Socrates addresses the first accusation — the moral corruption of Athenian youth — by accusing his accuser, Meletus, of being indifferent to the persons and things about which he professes to care. Whilst interrogating Meletus, Socrates says that no one would intentionally corrupt another person — because the corrupter later stands to be harmed in vengeance by the corrupted person.

The matter of moral corruption is important for two reasons: i corruption is the accusation that he Socrates corrupted the rich, young men of Athens by teaching atheism; ii that if he is convicted of corruption, it will be because the playwright Aristophanes already had corrupted the minds of his audience, when they were young, by lampooning Socrates as the " Sophistical philosopher " in The Clouds , a comic play produced about twenty-four years earlier. Socrates then addresses the second accusation — asebeia impiety against the pantheon of Athens — by which Meletus says that Socrates is an atheist.

In cross-examination, Socrates leads Meletus to contradict himself: That Socrates is an atheist who also believes in spiritual agencies and demigods. Socrates tells the judges that Meletus has contradicted himself, and then asks if Meletus has designed a test of intelligence for identifying logical contradictions. That people who fear death are showing their ignorance, because death might be a good thing, but that most people fear death as an evil thing, when they cannot possibly know death to be either good or evil.

Socrates says that his wisdom is in being aware that he is ignorant : "I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something, when he does not. Regarding a citizen's obedience to authority, Socrates says that a lawful authority, either human or divine, should always be obeyed. That in a conflict of obedience to such authorities, obeying divine authority supersedes obeying human authority: "Gentlemen, I am your grateful and devoted servant, but I owe a greater obedience to the [Delphic] god than to you; and, as long as I draw breath and have my faculties, I shall never stop practicing philosophy".

That, as spokesman for the Oracle at Delphi, he is to spur the Athenians to greater awareness of ethics and moral conduct, and always shall question and argue, even if his accusers — Lycon, Anytus, and Meletus — withdraw their accusations against him. Therefore, the philosopher Socrates of Athens asks his fellow citizens: "Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with reputation and honour , and give no attention or thought to truth and understanding, and the perfection of your soul?

Granting no concession to his precarious legal situation, Socrates speaks emotionally and provocatively to the court, and says that the greatest good to occur upon Athens is his moral concern for them as fellow citizens. That material wealth is a consequence of goodness; that the god does not permit a better man to be harmed by a lesser man; and that he is the social gadfly required by Athens: "All day long, I will never cease to settle here, there, and everywhere — rousing, persuading, and reproving every one of you. That statement implicitly validates Meletus' accusation that Socrates believes in novel deities not of the Athenian pantheon.

In Studies in Platonic political philosophy. By Leo Strauss; edited with an introduction by Thomas Pangle, 38— Chicago: Univ. Waterfield, Robin.


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Why Socrates died: Dispelling the myths. New York and London: W.

Plato’s Apology of Socrates - Classics - Oxford Bibliographies

Engagingly written for a general audience. Waterfield has a tendency to go beyond the evidence in supplying the cultural background but often scores. Particularly valuable is his imaginative rendering of the speech of Anytus for the prosecution. West, Thomas G.

The Apology of Socrates by Plato (Audiobook) - Performed by Frank Marcopolos

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The Apology of Socrates

An object lesson for all later professors, I would say, who teach nonsense [chuckles]. Take a match to the department. So, how accurate is that picture of Socrates, the man who investigates the things aloft and the things under the ground? Again, investigating the things aloft, under the ground.

He is what we would call today a scientist, a natural scientist. And here is where Socrates actually tells the story, very important in the course of this speech; he provides a kind of intellectual biography of an incident that occurred long before the trial and set him on a very different path. Socrates tells us that when he was told this he expressed disbelief in the Oracle. A quest, in the course of which lead him to interrogate the politicians, the poets, the craftsmen, all people reputed to be knowledgeable, and his conversations lead him to ask questions, not about natural scientific phenomena, but questions about the virtues, as he tells us, the virtues of a human being and a citizen, what we would call today perhaps moral and political questions.

It represents the moment in the life of Socrates where he turns away from the investigation of natural phenomena to the study of the human and political things, the moral and political things. The move from the younger, we could call him, Aristophanic Socrates, the Socrates who, again, investigates the things aloft and under the earth, to the later, what we could call platonic Socrates. The founder of political science, Socrates is the founder of our discipline who asks about the virtues of moral and political life.

Why does he turn away from the investigation of natural phenomena to the study of human and political things? The Delphic Oracle is interpreted by Socrates, at least to command engaging with others in philosophical conversation. Why does he interpret it this way?

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Why does this seem the proper interpretation to engage in these kinds of conversations? What did he do? What did corruption and impiety mean? To try to answer those questions we would have to look a little bit at what is meant by this new kind of Socratic citizen. Who is this citizen? The charges brought against Socrates by Anytus and Meletus we see are not the same exactly as those brought against him by Aristophanes, the comic poet. Anytus and Meletus talk about impiety and corruption, not investigating the things aloft and making the weaker argument the stronger.

What do these terms mean? Impiety and corruption, in what sense are these civic offenses? What could impiety have meant to his audience and his contemporaries?

At a minimum, we would think the charge of impiety suggests disrespect of the gods. Impiety need not be the same thing as atheism, although Meletus confuses the two, but it does suggest irreverence even blasphemy toward the things that a society cares most deeply about. To be impious is to disrespect those things a person or a society cares most deeply about.

When people today, for example, refer to flag burning as a desecration, as desecrating the flag they are speaking the language of impiety, right. They are speaking the language of some kind of religious or quasi-religious desecration.