Socrates and Plato
According to the University of Florida, In a broad sense, philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other. (FSU, Department of Philosophy). It is defined as the love of wisdom.
In simpler words, it is the way that a person may think about the world or universe (spirit, and mind), and what it is made up of to understand the mystery of existence. It is thinking about thinking. The subject of philosophy is so arguable so the term isn’t exactly be defined. There are many philosophers that have many different views and opinions on philosophy.
In the western tradition, prehistoric philosophy and belief was produced and arose from philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thales, Anaximander, and etc. A great deal of greek philosophers were important, and many things that they have said are still said the same, or in a rephrased state today. For example, Socrates said, The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. This has been rephrased by my grandmother as the fool in the room always makes the most noise. Many of those believers’ ideas are still accepted today throughout many different countries and religions. Out of all of the philosophers, I believe that the philosophers who have made the most significant differences are Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Their thoughts and beliefs are similar yet different, and are still accepted in modern society all over. From this course I have learned that you couldn’t really study or learn the world of philosophy without bringing up those three philosophers.
According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, Socrates was a Greek philosopher and is considered the father of western philosophy. Plato was his most famous student and would teach Aristotle who would then tutor Alexander the Great.(Mark, Joshua). Socrates lived from four hundred sixty nine BCE to three hundred ninety nine BCE. In my opinion, he is one of the most powerful and persuasive Greek philosophers. He created the method of elenchus, which is also known as the socratic method. This method is an open space where someone or a group of people can sit and ask open ended questions about a topic to unfold a better, more deeper understanding. It is a system of thinking where for example, a person asks a question in a study group. After the question is presented, the rest of the circle goes around, one at a time answering the same question. It simply works by breaking down big problems, into smaller, less complicated problems.
Biology.com states that, Socrates’s life is chronicled through only a few sources”the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon and the plays of Aristophanes. The writings were not really written to report his life, and none showed a true image of what actually happened. Even-so, they give of a different and clear picture what of Socrates’ personality and philosophy was like. According to Plato, a just person can be related to a just society; both of them function similarly as a whole. Social justice occurs when each member of society plays the role for which his nature best suits him. Individual or moral justice occurs when the individual is harmonizing and keep all factors of his being in balance. Plato’s view of a just society and a just individual is the aspiration for the gain of the whole over the individual. All of these ideas ties together Plato’s ideal republic. Plato claims that justice occurs when all three parts of the whole performs their legitimate functions.
Plato carried on Socrates’ unique approach to philosophy and extended it one step farther. He expanded largely on Socrates works on immortality of the soul, truth, the existence of man on two planes, and why, only after death, one could see truth more clearly in one of his most acclaimed works, the Doctrine of Pure Form and Ideas. The doctrine of pure form and ideas illustrated how man was deceived by his senses and that they masked the real truth. In fact, Plato argued that a man would see a horse for example, in a whole new light after death, because only then could he see the pure form after the mask of his mortal senses was lifted. Furthermore, he believed that a pure form, in other words an essence that can see all for its genuine truth created the world, which many consider the true beginning of monotheism.
On the other end of the spectrum are his political contributions, whereby he took Socrates’ criticism of democracy to a new level. Plato
Originally, the term philosophy related to any structure of knowledge or recognition.
- Mark, Joshua J. Socrates. Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 6 Dec. 2018, www.ancient.eu/socrates/.
- Timmons, Greg. Socrates. Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 28 Apr. 2017, www.biography.com/people/socrates-9488126.
- University, Florida. Department of Philosophy. What Is Philosophy?, 2018, philosophy.fsu.edu/undergraduate-study/why-philosophy/What-is-Philosophy.
Socrates and Crito
As Socrates is willingly awaiting his execution he is visited by an old friend of his Crito. Crito is very concerned about whether Socrates has thought through the situation he is in because he believes Socrates should not be punished and he strongly believes that he should not be executed either for supposedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Crito delivers compelling arguments as to why Socrates should escape and live in exile.
He goes into detail that he should escape for the sake of his friends, the assumption that he will live a good life in another town, and how this will affect his children. Socrates also explains why it must be done and why he believes that its important to him because Crito shouldn’t listen to other people’s opinions, it is morally wrong the way they want to get him out of prison, how obeying the laws of Athens can be beneficial and how this will take a toll on anyone if they do not obey the rules.
Crito argues that if Socrates chooses not to escape it will seem bad on Critos part because then it will seem that he and others who have been friends with Socrates would have just stood by and did nothing to prevent his execution from happening. He worries that his reputation of being a loyal friend to Socrates would be damaged. Crito claims that Socrates would be harming him in two ways because no one but Crito will know that is was Socrates choice to accept his punishment and the people would believe that Crito was a terrible friend because he was not willing to pay money to have him set free. When, in fact Crito says many others are willing to spend their money. With this argument it tends to be weak because then Socrates responses with that he should not have to worry about what other people’s opinions are, Crito’s argument only focuses on the consequences that Socrates supposedly brought forth on Crito’s half. Although, by harming his reputation this isn’t the only thing Crito is concerned about.
Another argument that he brings up is that Crito believes the reason Socrates doesn’t want to escape with the help of his friends and the money is that Socrates worries about their well being and what will be the consequences brought upon them if they do manage to get him to escape from prison. Crito states that he along with other of Socrates followers who believe he did nothing wrong are more than willing to take the risk of getting in greater trouble in order to save him from being execute and even emphasize that they will go as far as bribing the authorities in exchange to have Socrates alive. Crito is also convinced that if he lives in exile he will live a much better life. Socrates response with a strong statement that it is worth to die believing that you lived a moral and justifiable life rather than giving into what people are depriving you of. Which is a sense of good values and knowing your soul isn’t ruined because you disobeyed the laws and he says when you disobey that Laws of Athens you are causing more harm than good. Socrates is well aware that there is evil in the world and that not everything is justified but says when doing harm to others it damages your soul and creates and unjust for those who have been harmed. Thus, he comes to terms with his death saying that he does not want to ruin his soul and would rather die.
The last argument Crito presents is that if Socrates dies he will be abandoning his sons and leaving them fatherless. He claims that is it Socrates sole responsibility to get a clear view on how his children are being nurtured and how well educated they are being but how will he do so if Socrates chooses to die? Crito says that Socrates believes living a life that’s good is just doing that but also living a life full of goodness means doing whatever it takes to see how your children are being brought up, that a father would do whatever it takes to have their children being looked after. Socrates may find it easy to just stay in jail but to escape also means wanting to take the risk because it is his duty as a parent to do so in wanting to be with his children. Again, this argument is insufficient and Socrates response with that Crito should not have to focus on what others have to say but to listen to those who have experience and are wise enough because listening to those who criticize can do significant damage to yourself. Socrates also says that one should not act or give into evil because like in previous arguments it harms the soul of the one who does evil and the one who is being a victim of it.
Crito only focuses on how Socrates death will affect him but not in a way where he would feel like he betrayed a friend by not finding a way to save him but worried about his reputation and made it seem like he wanted no part in getting Socrates free. The only convincing argument he discusses about is that of Socrates having to take responsibility in looking after his children. Whereas Socrates still strongly stands and states that by escaping his punishment he will be doing wrong to the city, and the laws that hold the city together, and by doing wrong against the laws he is further damaging his soul. Therefore, Socrates has the strongest argument as to why he should be punished and take no help from his friends.
What is Socrates being accused of?
Imagine being accused of three things that you don’t agree with what they are saying. In the apology Socrates was accused of multiple things and was sent to court for the trial to find out if he was guilty or not. One of the things Socrates was accused of was him corrupting the young people that followed him because of their actions.
Another accusation was of him not believing in the gods of Athens. Socrates was also accused of making or inventing new gods. The court was examining evidence of all those things so that they could find whether he was guilty or not guilty. If he was found guilty a death sentence awaited him. Socrates is one of the founders of western philosophy. He was a very intelligent man who was very concerned about ethics being a good Athenian and behaving justly. Socrates has developed his reputation of being the wisest, thanks to his way of thinking and doing things. Socrates used the Socratic method to make his follower questions their beliefs and thought. Socrates simply shared his ideas and thoughts with the young student and they themselves chose their own path to follow and which kind of action to make.
Based on one of his students Plato in the apology don’t believe that Socrates was corrupting the minds of the youth but instead of opening them. I say this because Socrates did not in any way mislead or misguide any of his students in any way but rather showed them that there has their own mind where they can think for themselves. This method was called Socratic because he was the one who invented the term. socrates shows the students that just because a person held a higher position or was older did not mean that they were wiser or they were better them god or other people. Socrates question the youth of their daily lives on what they think is right and what they think is rough and that they should follow they own heart no matter what and to not let anyone say otherwise. Socrates does not explicitly answer whether or not he believed in the many gods of Athens but he definitely believed in at least one divinity: his inner voice. Just like how he told the student is that to follow what is in their heart and not what others tell you too.
But if Socrates did believe in any god that would be in a philosophical idea of good which he sometimes referred to as the god as well as the omnibenevolent demiurge or craftsman who created the world. It almost sounds like Socrates was a Muslim but his conception of the divine was philosophical, not religious. Although this may still be considered a form of reverence by an Athenian jury it is misguided to describe Socrates as an atheist. Even though he does not speak in favor of the gods either does he move to deny spirituality or divinity? It still not proven that Socrates invented any new gods. In conclusion, Socrates was a person with a strong will who believe in doing thing rightly by following one’s heart. It shows that even if one is strong hearted doesn’t mean he is a bad person.
Meaning of Happiness by Socrates
Everyone is constantly searching for the true concept of happiness in their lives. Many pursue fame, money and material goods in order to grain that satisfaction, but others believe that satisfaction from fame, money and material good is only temporary. Many philosophers, specifically Socrates believes that a good life is the true concept of happiness.
However, Socrates warns the Athenians and us that we may be looking for happiness in all the wrong places if we have our priorities and our desires in the wrong order. There were many people in Athens and there still are many people today who think that the acquisition of fame, power or wealth is the key to happiness, but they are confusing worldly success and material prosperity with genuine happiness. In this argumentative essay, I will explain Socrates’s view of happiness as I believe that virtue and wisdom are absolutely necessary for the true concept of happiness through including evidence from Plato’s Apology.
Socrates’s definition of happiness is living a life that is right and good and its relationship with virtue and wisdom. He knows that fame, power or wealth can make one think that they are happy, however, the real concept of happiness is much more than that. As Socrates said , “The Olympian victor makes you think yourself happy; I make you be happy” (Apology, 36e-37a). This is said because Socrates believes that he actually helped the people of Athens move towards happiness through self-examination and wisdom as showing others that the city is using them and giving false information. Socrates explains to the people that the true happiness is more than just wealth and power. As he says, “Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men” (Apology, 30b). In other words, money can’t make people be experts in things because only excellence means being good or expert at things. But being an expert or good at a profession makes wealth for you.
In order to achieve the true concept of happiness, Socrates believes that people first need to be virtuous which means to do and be good always because that will fill one’s heart and soul with good deeds and morality. Those are important in peoples’ lives because it can help, he/she decide between the good and the bad. It is also a way of building an individual’s character and spirituality. For example, being respectful, honest and caring to others and things. As Socrates says this is the most precious quality one can have, I went to each of you privately and conferred upon him what I say is the greatest benefit, by trying to persuade him not to care for any of his belongings before caring that he himself should be as good and as wise as possible (Apology, 36c). And by being good or virtuous, it allows people to go on the pathway of happiness and create good relationships with each other’s. The goodness and virtue are much more than the ones who think that the acquisition of fame, power or wealth is the key to happiness. Socrates says, “A good man cannot be harmed either in life or in death”( Apology, 41d). This means that no matter what, a good man can never be treated badly even afterlife. As he said, a better man cannot be harmed by a worse” (Apology, 30d). Having the virtue in life, gives people a true concept of happiness that is well beyond wealth, fame or and any goods.
Being virtuous and doing a virtuous act once, doesn’t mean that an individual has gained the accurate meaning of happiness. In order to get the perfect happiness it requires people to be virtuous and being virtuous requires wisdom which makes virtuous and wisdom important components of happiness. Wisdom is defined as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment (Dictionary). As Socrates says, the unexamined life is not worth living (Apology, 38a). This means that to understand what you are living for is more important than actually living. Sometimes people do things to impress others and not really express their true self as to not get judged by others. Some think that gaining the acceptance from others might give them the pleasure in happiness which they been constantly searching but in reality, they are wasting their lives because of no good judgement or self-knowledge. Life is not worth it when someone has no purpose to reach its goals in life. Therefore, Virtue can’t be developed without wisdom because they are both necessary for happiness and wisdom is needed to show people if they know whether what they are pursuing in their lives will really bring them the genuine of happiness. As Socrates says, discuss virtue every day (Apology, 38a).
Nowadays, getting fame, wealth or power has become much easier to gain than compared to few years ago. People can upload videos of them just doing basic things in life, such as eating, shopping or running errands and could become famous and rich. For example, Trisha Paytas is a famously known Youtuber who has a net worth of $4 million and all she does is uploading videos of her eating according to celebritynetworth.com. Some might think Trisha’s life is full of happiness since she has fame and wealth but in reality, she is not. Often, she has said that she is depressed and feels lonely and fame and money only gives Trisha a temporary joy (YouTube).
However, some believe that pursuing fame, money and material goods is the true satisfaction of happiness. Money doesn’t buy you happiness is often used a lot to explain how wealth doesn’t solve all the problems but in fact it does. Everybody in the world needs money for basic needs and also for others as well. Money is the main source of power and fame where people have the ability to live a good life. Without money, people won’t be able to have food, water or shelter, which are the basic components of happiness. Sure, having virtuous and wisdom can make an individual a better person but is that really going to help him/her get food, water or shelter? Although this may seem true, it is not because being happy is more important than being successful. Chasing after the fame and wealth is not the way to live life as Socrates say, Esteemed friend, citizen of Athens, the greatest city in the world, so outstanding in both intelligence and power, aren’t you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige–while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry? (Apology, 23a). He believed that pathway to happiness is much more than unnecessary things.
In conclusion, people pursue what they think will make them happy as some may pursue fame, money and material goods in order to grain that satisfaction, of happiness. However, others believe that those things will only give a temporary joy in life. According to Socrates, he believes that people may be looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Therefore, in this essay, I explained the aforementioned idea of Socrates’s view of happiness as I believed that virtue and wisdom are absolutely necessary for the true concept of happiness through including evidence from Plato’s Apology. The Socrates main purpose was to tell people that happiness is all about living life that is right and good and its relationship with virtue and wisdom. As it can be seen, the end goal in finding happiness is to know the purpose of our lives. As we pursue our goals, knowledge, experience and kindness, it will help us find true and absolute happiness. The development and betterment of life is what causes happiness to exist.
Is Justice Good in Itself? Socrates, Thrasymachus and Glaucon
The true definition of Justice in the eyes of a philosopher has been in question for many many years. The meaning of Justice has been interpreted in many different ways by these philosophers and the interpretation depends on the perspective or point of view by the person themselves. The true definition or literal definition of Justice is behaving based on what is morally right and morally fair, but many discussions upon what it truly means took place throughout history by many different philosophers.
In Ancient Greek philosophy, Socrates was asked the question of is Justice Good in Itself and not just good for the sake of other things, like ones’ reputation or avoiding punishment. How he demonstrated and explained his case for this question is something that is extremely important that he left behind in his legacy as one of the most profound Ancient Greek philosophers and one of the most famous and talked about philosophers by people today. There is in the Novel Republic of Plato by Allan Bloom many discussions between Socrates, Glaucon and Thrasymachus regarding the idea of Justice and if it is good in itself.
The argument of Justice is profound when reading Book I of the Republic of Plato in regards to what Thrasymachus who was a Sophist. What he had to say was important into looking into the arguments between himself and Socrates on the ideas of justice.. The literal definition of what a sophist is; a paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in ancient Greece, associated in popular thought with moral skepticism and specious reasoning who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments. Thrasymachus is one of the most relevant and most talked about Sophists because of this dialogue with Socrates and Sophists want or need to be persuasive over telling the exact and whole truth. This to some is what may have hindered him in his arguments with Socrates. Thrasymachus states in Book I of The Republic, Now listen. I say that the just is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger (Plato 15).
He then goes on to say that in every city the same thing is just, the advantage of the established ruling body. It surely is master; so the man who reasons rightly concludes that everywhere justice is the same thing, the advantage of the stronger (Plato 15). What Thrasymachus is arguing here is that justice is only the advantage and rule of the stronger over the weak. When he talks about how in every city the same thing is just, Thrasymachus is saying that the laws put into place by the ruling majority is what predetermines what is just, and that all of these cities almost no matter what type of ruler either democratic or Aristocratic, have many of the same rules or laws put into place. This puts into perspective of what Thrasymachus truly thought Justice or being just was. His belief or ideas were that one must follow the laws or the regulations of the legal precedent put into place by the political elite or in his eyes, the stronger always and no matter what. This brings into question to why someone would believe that the ideas that the political elite or rulers have the divine right in a sense to decide what is just or morally right for all others that live under them.
But what really relates or corresponds with what Thrasymachus stated, is the idea in philosophy that has been argued many times, should the strong rule over the weak? From what he stated in his argument with Socrates here, it is well defined that he does believe in this and makes him a relativist. Later in the Republic of Plato in dialogue 348b, Thrasymachus states that injustice is much more powerful than justice. He also declares that injustice is profitable while justice is not profitable. What he says in these few exchanges between Socrates and himself, show his ideology that he truly believes that injustice will provide someone with an advantage over the just or weak. This also goes along with his belief that an unjust person will be better off when compared to a just person because of the disadvantage of being just. What really resonates after reading these dialogues in Book I, is that Sophists like Thrasymachus believed these ideas of the political elite and rulers determining what is right or just, but truly what is just in his mind is acting in a way or in a manner that will benefit the people who are in power. Now when looking into the response that Socrates gives Thrasymachus in the dialogues of Book I, it is important to realize that Socrates believes justice has no true meaning or definition from a ruling force or political power. He believes that justice is what should be or is in the individuals’ interest to do so instead of the opposite, being unjust. Socrates begins his argument or rebuttal against Thrasymachus with the idea that rulers only rule because of wages and penalties. This goes against what Thrasymachus stated that rulers rule for the good of his people because they are weak and in need of a strong type of leadership.
Socrates states that the good aren’t willing to rule for the sake of money or honorwhen decent men do rulethey enter it as a necessity and because they have no one better than or like themselves to whom to turn it over (Plato 25). What Socrates is saying is that, decent or just men do not put themselves into ruling states because they do not seek the power to dictate what others who are being ruled can or cannot do in their lives or to determine what is just, in Thrasymachus’ mind. Socrates next few points refute the arguments that Thrasymachus had brought forward. Socrates states that a man who is just is more like a wise and good man compared to the unjust man. And that justice is far more powerful than injustice in the sense of things getting done. He then gives the example of how even pirates are sometimes granted the idea of justice. or pirates, or robbers, or any other tribe which has some common unjust enterprise would be able to accomplish anything, it its members acted unjustly towards one another? (Plato 30). In Socrates’ final point against Thrasymachus he believes that the just will live a better life because of justice itself. Justice will provide a better life because in the manner he lives not the outcome of how money he received or political power he had. Because of this point, Thrasymachus and Socrates were able to agree upon this statement at the end of Book I; And the man who lives well and is blessed and happy, and the man who does not is the opposite (Plato 33). Justice is the true power of the human soul and without it, a good life would not be possible for someone.
The argument of Justice continues into Book II of The Republic of Plato. This time it is between Glaucon, Adeimantus and Socrates. Glaucon who was the brother of Plato brought forth the idea of the Ring of Gyges. This is where a shepherd who is caught in a dangerous thunderstorm stumbles across a hollow bronze horse and the large body of someone that had a gold ring on its hand. This shepherd then went to a gathering where he decided to wear the ring and turned it when on his hand. Upon doing so he had realized that he had become invisible to the eyes of the others around him. Once finding out the power of the ring, the shepherd had realized the magnitude of the power he possessed and decided to use it how he had pleased. The shepherd then willingly went on to commit adultery with the king’s wife and then killed the king. After doing so he had taken over rule that the king he had murdered once had the power of. This story is an example of someone who has been just their entire life and is considered just, using the ability given to him by this ring to do unjust actions without consequences. What comes after this act is the question of was it really unjust if no one knew that he had done the unjust act of adultery and murder? In Glaucon’s eyes he believes that people who are given the opportunity to commit unjust acts will do so if there are no given consequences afterwards. He states no one, as it would seem would be so adamant as to stick by justice and bring himself to keep away from what belonged to others and not lay hold of it (Plato 38). This type of statement brings up the question, are all people truly this way? If given the opportunity with no consequences, would even the just think about or even commit an unjust act or crime? But this brings up the ideas of how this relates to other circumstances or situations. If a similar situation were to happen where someone who is a just human being and follows the laws which are provided to them in where they live, was provided an opportunity to break the law that he or she lives in, without the consequences of being seen or getting caught.
Would they then do the unjust crime? Or is this crime not even considered unjust because no one was there to see them or catch them doing the crime? This brings up Glaucon’s point of nobody wanting to be or willing to be just, they are this way because they have to be or are obligated to be that way, and the life of an unjust man is a better life than the just man. This is contradicting to the point that Socrates has made previously in Book II and another important point comes up. Tell me in your opinion a kind of good that we would choose to have not because we desire its consequences, but because we delight in it for its own sake-such as enjoyment and all the other pleasures which are harmless and leave no after effects other than the enjoyment in having them? (Plato 35). This is the point to where Socrates explains how justice is good in itself but not just a means to an end. A means to an end actually means that something is done in order to achieve what come after it, like a reward. Glaucon believes that the reason people do just things or acts is because they will receive benefits or money, he uses the example of doctors getting paid for preforming just acts of medicine or treatment in dialogue 357c in Book II of The Republic. What Socrates argues is that these acts or things are just but it is not the result that comes after doing the act is what makes them just. What makes them just is the good in itself.
The good in itself is the act being preformed for the purpose of the act being preformed not the benefiting result. The act of preforming medical treatment for the purpose of preforming the medical treatment from a doctor, not the benefit of getting paid. The act itself is just and while you may receive a benefit in this case payment after doing so, it does not make in unjust if you did the act for the sake of doing it. That is important because that is what truly differenciates the two arguments. Just because someone receives the benefit doesn’t make it unjust in Socrates eyes, if he truly did the act for doing the just act that is the idea of justice or a just act. While the argument ravaged on between Socrates and Adeimantus afterwards about the two cities and the necessity of lying to enemies, but what is most important is the dialogue between Socrates, Thrasymachus, and Glaucon. For those arguments or dialogues between those philosophers, show the differences in ideas of how Justice is or isn’t good in itself.
The moral standards of what is just or unjust may never be truly answered. One thing that is certain, Socrates, Thrasymachus and Glaucon did not agree upon the basis of justice being good in itself. From the ideas of political authority determining, to the benefiting result and finally doing the act for the sake of doing the just act, their ideas were different from one another. Ethics and justice go hand and hand because of the moral principles that relate to both. Perspective on who had the correct meaning or interpretation on this subject is up to the circumstances and understanding of an individual to decide which of these philosophers they agree with. That is the beauty of philosophy.
The Life and Ideas of Socrates
The unexamined life is not worth living for the human being. These words, spoken by one of the most influential men to ever live, have resounded throughout millennia as the basis for all philosophical thought. Socrates’ life played a major role in human history as it has influenced everyone from Plato, to Aristotle, and even Alexander the Great, showing its importance for us as humans living in an ever-changing world.
The life of Socrates fluctuated and evolved constantly, as his early years consisted mainly of education and early philosophical thought, but as he grew in wisdom and stature he found himself fighting in multiple battles during the Peloponnesian wars and saving the lives of powerful men. Sadly, his philosophical ideas were not widely accepted and his steadfastness to his own ideas eventually led to his execution. Socrates was born in Athens during the year 469 B.C. to Sophroniscus and Phaenarate, his father and mother respectively. The tribe his family associated with was Antiochis, while their Deme, or their district, was Alopece. Five days after his birth, Socrates’ father followed the sacred tradition of carrying him around the hearth and accepting him into the family, naming him on the tenth day. Following his naming, Socrates was presented to his phratry and socialized into Athenian institutions necessary for the common male (Nails 09). As Socrates grew, he became more and more eager for schooling and was eventually incorporated into the sophisticated schooling system of Athens.
During Socrates’ childhood, literacy became more widespread and education was becoming a necessity for a growing percentage of the Athenian population. Because of this, Sophroniscus ensured his son would receive an education on par with what was expected at the time, showing that Socrates’ upbringing was not deprived nor was it especially luscious. At a young age, Socrates was already purchasing the scrolls of Anaxagoras and educating himself in the ways of philosophical thought, planting the seeds of wisdom that would grow and influence generations to come. In his 18th year, Socrates’ father put him through the ceremony of dokimasia, where he would be examined and entered onto the citizens’ role. This made Socrates eligible for tasks of the Athenian government, meaning he needed to spend two years in compulsory military training. Unfortunately, soon after Socrates came of age, his father died, leaving Phaenarete (his mother) as his only legal guardian. Between this time and his 30th year, Socrates discussed philosophy with influential teachers of the time and trained himself in a trade in preparation for his coming eligibility for public office (Nails 09). Socrates’ early years played a large part in the molding of the rest of his life, as his father’s death played a profound effect on his moral development and his introduction to philosophy at such a young age allowed him to be deeply rooted and knowledgeable in it at just 19.
After Socrates completed his mandatory military training, he was sent to Potidaea in 432 with Alcibiades to put down a revolt as a foot soldier. Alcibiades, a commander during the Peloponnesian wars, was wounded and dying on the battlefield before being rescued by Socrates, who saved his life, armor, and honor. In the year 429, during a short stint in Athens between two battles, Socrates was accused by a comic playwright of aiding Euripides in writing his tragedies, a false accusation that harmed Socrates’ reputation and would be repeated twice more. After travelling around the Balkan Peninsula once more to fight against revolts, the Greeks’ luck began to dry up and they were defeated in 424 during the Battle of Delium. Although there were many casualties, Socrates was still honored for his heroism in battle and was praised once again by his commander Alcibiades. Unfortunately, the Athenians were defeated again at the Battle of Amphipolis in 422 and Socrates was of a small group that returned. This would be the last time Socrates would fight in any war (Nails 10).
After concluding his military career, Socrates began to teach the youths of Athens in the ways of philosophical thought and was held in high regards among them, yet he remained essentially anonymous from those who would be his peers. Unfortunately, any trace of this anonymity that was left in 423 was eliminated by the popularity he gained from being portrayed in Aristophanes’ Clouds. Being placed in the spotlight was not something Socrates was used to, so this event ultimately resulted in the unrest that led to his execution. After the war time that followed 423, Socrates continued his talks on erotic love with the youths of Athens (these inspired Plato’s Symposium) and eventually married Xanthippe, who soon after bore their first son Lamprocles. In the following years, they had another child named after Socrates’ father, Sophroniscus. Following his family’s development, a newly erected wrestling school became the setting for Socrates’ examinations of the nature of friendship with a group of adolescents who associated with Plato and his older brothers. This association would soon be damaged as Aristophanes took another stab at Socrates’ reputation, stating, It’s no longer fashionable to associate with Socrates, and His hairsplitting twaddle ignores the craft of the tragedians! (Nails 12). This unrest eventually led to accusations of irreverence and Socrates was eventually found guilty and executed. In his final hours, Socrates remained happy and energetic, drinking the Athenians’ poison and dying with his honor.
Although Socrates himself never wrote down a word of his ideas and philosophies, his students (most notable of whom was Plato) ensured that the vast majority of his works were immortalized to ensure the world would see his genius. Because of this, we can today observe Socrates’ ideas of the Socratic Method and the Socratic Paradox, two key aspects of the world of metaphysical thought. The Socratic Paradox, or the idea that the only thing man can know is that they know nothing, was uncovered by Socrates in a way one would only suspect from the iconic thinker. According to The Story of Philosophy by Bryan Magee, When the oracle at Delphi declared him to be the wisest of men, he thought this could mean only that he alone knew that he did not know anything, (Magee 20). Socrates uses this simple declaration from a fraudulent fortune teller to discover one of the most profound paradoxes of philosophy while in the process stemming from it the Socratic Method. The Socratic Method is the most popular of Socrates’ main philosophies as it plays a part in almost any philosopher’s ideological journey, and involves asking a series of questions to reach, what most would hope, an end (although this was rarely attained, as Socratic questioning commonly becomes circular).
Around ancient Athens, Socrates would question the legitimacy of fundamental concepts of livelihood and, according to the course text, challenge a person who thought they knew the answer, and then subject that answer to examination by asking the person a series of searching questions about it, (Magee 21). This questioning could delegitimize ideas thought to be the most concrete, as evidenced by the hatred produced from Socrates’ questioning of Greek gods and eventual charges of irreverence. This invalidation of ideas would force both observers and those questioned to, according to Magee, retract [their] answer, or at least qualify it although that interlocuter ““ had thought they knew what, let us say, courage was, actually they did not, (Magee 21). By exposing the great ignorance of the Athenians in this way, Socrates effectively opened the eyes of thousands of youths who would eventually carry on this way of thought, whether they be his students or simply avid listeners. These ideas formulated by Socrates have resounded throughout millennia and have an undoubtedly profound effect on today’s society.
Socrates’ influence has stretched from his lifetime to today, and his ideas are still applied in modern thought and philosophy. By asking the deep-seated questions of life, Socrates was able to make humans really contemplate the meaning of their existence like never before and encourage a new way of thinking on a subject scrutinized since the beginning of human existence. The implication these ideas hold for us today is that we must accept the reality that there is no answer to the question, What is the meaning of life? but there are rationalizations for our existence. By asking, What makes things good? What is virtue? What is love? we can discover, through the Socratic method, why we’re here. Interestingly enough, the answer for these questions changes from person to person, each with their own respective question that carries them on to the next, eventually resulting in the eventual realization that all truths are subjective except one, that it is impossible for us to know anything definitely.
Socrates’ inspiration throughout thousands of years has played a profound effect on human history and has molded cultures around the world for the better. In the constantly evolving world in which we live, having a grasp on the meaning of our existence grows in importance every day as daily trials become greater and more difficult to deal with. Although Socrates life ended before the modern calendar even began, his influence has remained and his ideologies have been immortalized by those who stood alongside him.
Socrates’s civil disobedience
It’s our responsibility’s as citizens to not only follow the laws in place but to challenge them when we deem them unjust. By doing this we are directly committing civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is a tool that when molested can hurt the system in place but, when used justly to alter the laws inhibiting certain rights in can enlighten the system.
One of the most famous proponents of Civil disobedience is Martin Luther King Jr, he saw injustice in our society and fought to correct it. In Letter from a Birmingham Jail King Draws a connection between himself and Socrates, who was a firm believer in the laws of Athens, yet he in turn practiced civil disobedience.
In Letter from a Birmingham Jail King surmises that although he may practice Civil disobedience, so did many other influential people in history, one being Socrates. King believed that Socrates openly practiced civil disobedience and Academic freedom is a reality because Socrates practiced civil disobedience (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, page 5). MLKs definition of civil disobedience is when an individual directly violating unjust laws or social norms set by the status quo nonviolently and with the intent of succumbing to the punishments. In king’s eyes Socrates practices civil disobedience similarly to the way he does, because Socrates directly disobeys the opinions of the majority of his fellow citizens. Socrates doesn’t just disobey the social norms, but he openly passes on his opinion of unwritten laws and encourages individuals [to] rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, page 3).
Although Socrates openly encourages others to go against certain Athenian social constructs, he is a firm believer in the laws of Athens. When Socrates was given the opportunity to save his own life by fleeing imprisonment he assures his dear friend Crito that he would rather die than break the laws of his beloved city. Even though Socrates was wrongly imprisoned and sentenced to death he would choose to die for his beliefs instead of live knowing he defied his moral code. To justify his opinion to Crito he then personifies the laws, saying that By this action you are attempting to destroy us, the laws and indeed the whole city (Crito, page 53) . Socrates believes by breaking the laws of the he is undermining everything the city and he stands.
One might wonder how this is could possibly be classified as civil disobedience. Socrates has the chance to live but, knows by escaping his punishment he is directly opposing Athens’s laws or committing civil disobedience. Rarely is there such a person that would lay down their lives just not to discredit the laws of their own government. Humanity at its roots is selfish, and most people placed in this situation wouldn’t think twice about committing injustice if it meant their life. But, Socrates as so much faith in the laws of Athens he would die than oppose them. So how exactly could king justify Socrates’s civil disobedience?
About Socrates Life
Through the ages there have been many great philosophers. Socrates, one of these, is known and respected throughout history. Socrates was born in Athens in 470 BCE, and he dedicated his life to teaching.
He never wrote a book, but his teachings were passed on through his student’s writings. He was sentenced to drink hemlock, a poison that killed him in 399 BCE, because his ideas were considered to corrupt the youth of his time (Haber). Although he did not have any writings, Socrates was an important philosopher in the ancient world and in the modern world today. Through His philosophy, his influence on other philosophers, and principles were and have been universal through the ages.
Socrates was important in the ancient world because of the nature of his philosophy.
Throughout his philosophy he wanted to develop a way, for people to understand how little they knew, therefore leave ignorance behind. This method he developed was called the Socratic method, it consisted on asking and answering questions to his students (Spielvogel, McTighe 5). The goal of this method was for whom ever used it to develop an understanding of how much ignorance there was about a topic. As a result, he believed that “The unexamined life is not worth living.”(ABC Clio) and how for Socrates, philosophy was more than just knowledge. Equally important Socrates had both positive and negative influences on other philosophers. Philosophers of his time did not like him, because he looked for those who considered themselves smart, and proved to them how little they actually knew by using his Socratic method. (Bleiberg) This was considered a scandalous behavior because people of Greece did not like to be told they were wrong, which eventually led to his execution. During his execution he was offered to flee which he denied because he believed that the justice of the law would be fair and stood for his believes. Socrates did not lead a bias opinion and although he worshiped the gods, he also criticized them. (Bleiberg) More over the importance of Socrates ideas can be seen on how his method is still effective today and how it was able to be passed down through many generations.
Socrates was also important in the ancient world because of his influence on other philosophers, either directly through his own students or indirectly through his students’ students. Through this influence Socrates was contributory in the development of other ways of thinking that were expansions of his own. These students went on to develop other philosophy’s that where not developed by Socrates. Plato and Aristotle are two examples of these types of philosophers. Plato was the student of Socrates, and perhaps the most important one. Not only he wrote almost all the information that is known about Socrates, but he later became an important philosopher on his own, that continued to pass Socrates’s ideas through his own teachings. Another example of the influence Socrates had was Aristotle, and although he was not a student of Socrates, he was one of Plato’s students and perhaps a well-known philosopher. Another important person that Socrates influenced was Alexander the great, Aristotle educated him. Through some of alexander’s behaviors it is able to see how some of Socrates ideas are showed in his actions, through his decision to expand Greeks philosophy’s rather than destroying him. From alexanders greatness Socrates ideas have been considered and not forgotten as well as the ones of his students. Socrates was considered to be the person that brought philosophy down from the heavens (Mitcham), which means not that he was the one to develop philosophy, but he was the one that taught it better.
Socrates vs Pericles
Socrates was a Greek philosopher of Athens that lived from 469 to 399 B.C. Socrates was known as one of the wisest people of all time where a lot of current knowledge of him and teachings come from some of his pupils like Plato through scripts and dialogues. Socrates was also known for spending his life conversing about integrity, justice and religious quality wherever his fellow citizens gathered.
On the other hand, Pericles was a Greek statesman and leader of Athens who lived from 460 to 429 B.C.. Pericles started his political career by establishing a vote in the popular assembly. The assembly was the occasionally opportunity for male Athens to speak their minds and exercise their votes regarding the government. This lead to the exile of Cimon, the Athenian leader who cared more about the relationship with Sparta than Athens. Pericles is known for transforming Athens from a limited democracy to a popular government. A limited democracy is a democracy where average citizens still had to defer to members of the aristocracy. Popular government is where the mass of people were fully sovereign. This event has been named the true beginning of Athenian democracy. However people like Socrates had a different view of democracy. Socrates would view democracy as a disaster for the people because the people who would be voting have so many factors in their voting decision that can poorly affect the city.
In 399 B.C., Socrates was placed on trial for allegedly corrupting the youth and not believing in the deities of the city of Athens. Plato, one of Socrates’ pupils, spoke Socrates’ apology which back then means defense, to defend himself and his conduct. Throughout the case and the trail, Socrates defended himself as at aknow-it-all which did not give him a good look to the jury. Socrates knew he was right with his beliefs and didn’t care if all jurymen in all of Athen voted in favour of sentencing him to death for corrupting the youth. Socrates was accused of teaching the youth to question authority and his whole goal was to expose the authoritative and orthodoxy views of his time that were all wrong. It was obvious that the jury was run based on their emotion. Socrates believes that the people who vote in the democratic body have emotions that influence their decisions resulting in an not necessarily reasonably vote. In the apology, Socrates uses a horse and trainer analogy for how many people it takes to influence a child. Socrates believes that Meletus had never thought or cared about the youth, but however, only cares now because the dislike against Socrates. Meletus was one of the youngest accusers in the trail. In the apology it states, How about horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good?…the trainer of horses, that is to say, does them good, and others who have to do with them rather injure them? (Socrates 22). Socrates argues that it is absurd for the jury to believe that he is guilty of corrupting so many youths in Athens. He thinks it impossible for him to do that as one single man. This analogy can be perceived as an explanation of Socrates view on democracy by rule by the many vs. by one or the few and how many results in a fallen nation.
In contrast, Pericles, via his funeral oration speech, believes that democracy is better ruled by many rather than few. In the first year of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles gave speech in Athens honoring the brave warriors who were killed protecting their city-state. In Pericles speech he lists qualities of Athenians citizens who are alive and should feel honored that their loved ones and the people they know were brave enough to die for Athens and their government. Pericles believed that Athenian government, democracy, is a system where its male citizens can further in their merit rather than wealth. Perit stated,
In the middle of Pericles’ speech, he lists some qualities of Athenian citizens. What traits does he describe? Pair these descriptions with passages in Socrates’ speech where he would seem to disagree.
The life of Socrates
After Socrates’ brief and rather cocky demand for capital punishment to be driven, the jury votes to kill Socrates. This time, the edge is more prominent – more than 66% – rather than the thin edge that discovered Socrates blameworthy. Socrates presently makes his last deliver to the jury before being opened to jail.
He cautions those that condemned him that they will from this point forward be reprimanded for executing an astute man. On the off chance that just they had a little tolerance, he proposes, he would have passed on without their assistance; all things considered, he as of now an elderly person of seventy. He mirrors that maybe he may have spared himself by saying whatever was important to anchor his quittance, of sobbing or engaging the jury’s leniency. Be that as it may, he has not done as such for absence of creativity, but rather for absence of impudence: he would disfavor himself and the court if he somehow happened to make such interests. The trouble, from his perspective, isn’t to surpass demise, yet to beat devilishness, or, in other words more stubborn follower. Socrates acknowledges that he has been beaten by death, however calls attention to that, in contrast to him, his informers have been surpassed by fiendishness. While he has been sentenced to death by a human jury, his informers have been indicted for degeneracy and shamefulness by no less a court than Truth herself. He is more joyful tolerating his sentence than theirs, and views this as a reasonable sentence.
He completes his deliver to the individuals who casted a ballot against him with a stern prediction. In spite of the fact that they may have figured out how to quiet him in the expectations that they can keep on living free of feedback, he will be supplanted by considerably more pundits who as of recently have kept quiet. Socrates cautions his informers that with the end goal to live free of feedback, one must carry on well as opposed to stop the mouths of one’s faultfinders.
Socrates at that point delivers the individuals who casted a ballot to absolve him, to accommodate themselves to his destiny. He comments that the celestial voice that frequently cautions him against destructive activities has stayed quiet all through the preliminary and all through his own discourse. From this he infers that maybe demise is a gift, since his sign would have restricted him except if his activities were to realize a decent outcome. All things considered, Socrates reasons, passing is either demolition – an entire and last rest – or demise is, where his spirit would live on elsewhere. In the event that demise is demolition, it is to be anticipated as we would anticipate a profound, peaceful rest. Then again, if demise is a transmigration to some kind of the hereafter, that the hereafter will be populated by all the extraordinary figures of the past, from Homer to Odysseus. Socrates comments how awesome it is go among these extraordinary figures, addressing them with respect to their astuteness.
The end Socrates achieves, at that point, is that the great man has nothing to fear either in this life or the following. He denies any resentment against his informers, despite the fact that they look for his life, and requests that his companions take care of his three children and to ensure that they generally put goodness above cash or other natural trappings.