Effectiveness of the Apology of Socrates

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It happened to Jesus Christ, Galileo, and many other powerful philosophers. These men were put to death because of their radical beliefs that were contrary to the philosophy of the society in which they preached. Abinidi was burned because of his calling the people of Zeniff to repentance. Jesus Christ was crucified by the Jews because of his so-called “blasphemy.” Although not exactly put to death, Galileo was imprisoned for life because of his research and theories on physical science that contradicted the views of the Catholic Church. These men were each victims of corrupt society which could not accept these new views being offered, wrongly accused of high crimes such as treason. One other famous martyr was Socrates, accused of various charges by the people of Athens. In Plato’s reenactment of Socrates’ self defense, modern audiences learn what charges Socrates was accused of, and his method of defense against these charges.

From the writings of Socrates’ student Plato we know many characteristics of Socrates himself. We know that he although his own philosophy could be considered similar to that of the Sophists, Socrates condemned them for undermining existing values without introducing new values to the people. The Sophists tended to make “the worse seem the better” (728). Socrates focused on problems relating to man instead of those of “man vs god.” In one aspect was Socrates’ philosophy similar to that of the Sophists, and that was that he had a strong desire to have men make their own decisions in all circumstances, not to rely only on the gods. He also was of the passionate belief that “virtue is knowledge”, and that any man who does wrong does it out of ignorance of a better way. Socrates believed that anyone who really knew the truth absolutely would not do evil deeds. All of these values contradicted those of Athenian society. However, Athens was famous for its diversity, its freedom of thought, its allowing the people to have...
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