Socrates Apology essay
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The Apology by Socrates is a speech which he gave during his unsuccessful defense against the charges of corrupting the youths and being atheist, in addition to being a teacher who accepts money and his curiosity of his searches in earth and heaven. He was claimed not to believe in the gods whom the Athenians believed. His Apology began with acknowledging that he did not know whether the Athenians had been persuaded by his accusers; and this was an important theme of his speech. He suggested that philosophy was an admission of ignorance, and he questioned how his knowledge could emanate from nothing. He asked the jury to judge him by the truth, and not let his oratorical skills influence them. He spoke using the expressions from within his heart and soul, rather than the ornate words and phrases. In this speech, Socrates used his talent, and that proved him to be an orator and a wise person. He showed the way of speaking the truth persuasively and with wisdom; however, this did not win him acquittal, and thus the philosopher was condemned to death.
The charges pressed against Socrates were ancient prejudice and gossip, which were hard to address and to put them to formal legal accusations. His accusation of curiosity was that he could walk in the air, though he claimed not having any studies of the nature, and asked any one to witness whether he had sort of teaching of which there was no one. He was committed to the injustice by making weak arguments sound like the strongest, but could not be mistaken for sophists who were considered to be wise and noble, due to his life of poverty that could not claim anything noble and good. Socrates was innocent to this charge in regard to his defense of never knowing anything of the sort. The jury in their minds had been corrupted by his enemies, when they were impressionable and youthful, and his reputation for sophistry emanated from his enemies (Reeve).
His enemies were envious and malicious, and had never mentioned them by their names. This was in regard to the charge of being a teacher who was being paid. He argued that if a man was able to teach, the honor was through payment for him service. His defense named other people who were teachers, and were usually paid for their services. It was strengthened by the rich man Callias son of Hipponnicas who had two sons and paid for them to be taught by Evenus the Parian who he said his charges were fine for the service. These charges of being a teacher was placed against Socrates alone, as there were other teachers accepting payments, and were never charged for doing it. Again he is not guilty of doing wrong being a teacher and by accepting payment, because there is no foundation for the charge. Socrates, in his charge of corrupting the youth, argued that deliberate corruption was an incoherent idea. His accusations were embedded to his obedience with the prophecy made by the oracle at Delphi. He claimed that Chaerephon had visited oracle to ask whether there was anyone who was wiser than Socrates. Socrates took as a riddle to the Chaerephon’s answer that there was no one wiser, because there was no wisdom great or small, and it was against the nature of the gods to lie (Plato).
The Apology shows the solving the paradox on a divine mission that an ignorant man could also be the wisest man of all in clarifying the meaning of oracle’s words (Plato). The defense was systematical through his interrogation of the politicians, craftsmen, and the poets. The politicians were said to be imposters, while the poets were depicted as those who did not know the meaning of their poetry, and were like the prophets who never understood what they were saying. He also saw the craftsmen to be too pretentious, and thus he saw himself to be an oracle’s spokesman (Reeve).
His argument was that he could not be an imposter like those men, but he used to be himself. He spoke to the jury as himself and didn’t pretend to be anybody else. He interpreted his mission of life as evidence that true wisdom was to the gods and human wisdom, and achievement was little or of no value (Plato). This was his address to the cause of the prejudice against him, before his tackle of the formal charges of corrupting the youth and being atheist.
His first move was the counteraccusation of his accuser Meletus, who is man that never cared of things that he professed he cared. He argued that it was not possible for a person to intentionally corrupt another person, as there stands a date to be harmed by the one he corrupted (Cavalier n.p.). The issue of corruption was the core of the charges against Socrates. This is because it was seen that he had corrupted the youths through his teaching of atheism. He claimed that if he was convicted, it was due to Aristophanes, who had corrupted the minds of his audience when they were still young (Reeve). Socrates has never been a teacher, who was in the sense of imparting knowledge upon others, and he was not to be held responsible for any citizen who had chosen to be bad people (Reeve). He asked if there was anyone whom he had corrupted to come forward, and be the witness of being corrupted. He claimed that the relatives of young people, whom the accusation believed to be corrupted, did not realized it and had no wish to witness on their behalf (Plato). He pointed out that the relatives came to the courtroom to support him.
Socrates next charge of atheism where he examines his accuser Meletus to demonstrate his obvious contradiction. Meletus depicted Socrates as an atheist who believed in the spiritual creatures and demigods (Reeve). Meletus was in contradiction, and the court told that the designed intelligence was to see if Meletus could identify the logical inconsistency. Socrates claimed that it was not a formal charge that was supposed to destroy him, but the prejudice and gossip would destroy him. He was not afraid of death as his concern was based on whether he was doing the right thing or wrong. The fear of death was caused by ignorance, and that death was a blessing, though many people feared it as an evil without having any knowledge of it. He pointed out that his wisdom lay in the fact that he was aware of what he did not know (Plato).
He stated that a lawful superior, be it human or divine, should be obeyed even if there was a clash, the divine should be given a precedence. Socrates claimed that he was the grateful and devoted servant, but he owed greater obedience to God than to the people, and that he would continue to practice philosophy if he drew his breath and had his faculties (Plato). Socrates singled out the oracle to have spurred his teaching to Athenians, to greater awareness of moral goodness and truth. He claimed that he could not stop questioning and arguing, even if forbidden by the people to do so after withdrawal of the charges (Marrow). He did not stop to question his fellow citizens of how they put their attention to acquire wealth reputation and honor, and they did not give attention to the thought of truth, understanding and the perfection of their souls (Cavalier n.p.).
The Apology has highly inflammatory section, in which Socrates claimed that there was no greater good that had happened to Athens than his concern for his fellow citizens. He stated that the consequences of goodness were wealth and that there was no permission by God for a better man to be harmed by a worse one (Cavalier n.p.). He gave the task in his strongest statement that he was a stinging gadfly, and the state was a lazy horse. He resented that he will never cease to sit anywhere, rousing and persuading each and every one. While he was going on with presenting his evidence, Socrates reminded the court of his daemon from whom he gained supernatural experience, and he recognized it due to the charges of believing in invented beings, making no concession to his situation. The Apology’s conclusion reminds the judges that Socrates could not use emotive arguments and tricks, breakdown to neither tears nor producing his sons to sway the judges (Marrow). He did not fear death, and was not afraid to act in a way that was contrary to his religious duty. He relied solely on the sound argument and the truth to present his case (Cavalier n.p.).
In Athens, there was a tradition, according to which the defendant and the prosecution were asked to propose a penalty for the court to choose. Socrates did not propose a penalty, but a reward for being a benefactor of Athenians, and he considered imprisonment to be a better penalty for him as he could not settle the fine imposed. The punishment proposed by the prosecution was even more severe, and encouraged the judges to impose the death penalty. Although his supporters increased the amount of fine, there was no alternative for the judges (Cavalier n.p.). Socrates condemnation was not due to lack of argument, but his unwillingness to resort to emotive appeals (Marrow). Death could not absolve one from following the path of goodness and truth. He prophesies that his critics will follow him vexed even more as he gave encouragement for those who voted his acquittal. The conduct of his defense depicted him choosing the right path to do good things (Reeve). In his speech he claimed that he held no grudge against those who condemned him, and asked them to look at his sons to put goodness before selfishness.
Socrates was neither atheist, nor a person corrupting the youth. His speech only proves his innocence. It is obvious that the prosecution was rather weak, and Socrates was giving sound evidence; however, his prime goal was not to win the case, but to show the Athenians that he believed in his way of truth, and goodness to all. His defense was not aimed at his acquittal, but at showing the Athenians that what he was doing was noble, and he didn’t care about the material wealth at all. The death of Socrates was for a noble cause as it was another proof for the fact that one should not change his/her belief due to fear of giving up his life for good of the generations to come (Plato). He swore never to change his ways, even if he had to die many times, as he was justified to die for a noble cause. Socrates did not escape from prison after he was accused, because he was confident that justice and morality were on his side. He argued that a just person should not talk but act (Marrow).