Day Five and Six: Trial of Socrates
A. What is the current state? (Stability: What the majority believe)
Athens has long prided itself and itself as a hub for stimulating intellectual conversations, spurring philosophy, mathematics, and the arts. The reason that new and exciting ideas come from Athens, the democrats argue, is that merchants and sailors are permitted to travel to far off countries and expose themselves to new ideas, and bring them home; foreigners are likewise permitted to enter the city and have conversations with the Athenians as equals. Having these different ideas challenging one another spurred ever more ideas, and old ideas became better developed. The democratic environment, it seems, is the catalyst for new and exciting innovations, and innovation is what keeps Athens strong and adaptable.
Meanwhile, an old, poor, and famously ugly man walks about the city, engaging anyone he can in conversation about justice, knowledge, truth, the fate of the soul, the nature of the gods, and how a person can become good. Many people found him highly annoying and exhausting: but surely, to be annoying could not be considered a crime…could it?
B. What is the problem? (Instability: Why we need to rethink what the majority believes.)
In order for democracy to work, people must believe that democracy works. If everyone believes in the process of democracy, then the people will gather in the assembly and use their diverse ideas to debate, challenge one another, and create innovative solutions to real problems. This is the strength of Athens. But beliefs are fickle and interesting things. What happens when the belief in democracy itself is eroded? What happens when the diverse citizens of Athens believe that only the elite few have worthwhile ideas? Then the majority goes silent, and follows. The diverse ideas of the Athenian people will be silenced, and soon innovation will cease. The one great weapon of Athens, the one...
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