Guilty or Not Guilty?
By: Michael Warren
In the retelling of his trial by his associate, entitled The Apology, Socrates claims in his defence that he only wishes to do good for Athens. Socrates is eventually found guilty for his actions and put on trial, which results in him being given the death sentence. For years now people have debated whether or not Socrates was guilty or not guilty, or if he is even trying to win the trial at all. Socrates was innocent of the accusations that Meletus against him, by showing he does in fact believe in gods of some sort, distancing himself from sophists, and proving he is not corrupting the youth. From the above points, Socrates is able to prove that he is not guilty, but in The Apology, the jury decided otherwise.
Socrates first addressed himself to the accusation that he “inquires into things below the earth and in the sky” (Apology 19b). He tries to provide physical explanations for matters that are normally considered to be the workings of god. From there, he addresses the accusation that he does not believe in gods endorsed by the state, but that he is introducing strange gods to the youth, not the gods of Athens. Under Socrates’ questioning, Meletus assets that Socrates believes in no gods at all, and from that point, Socrates replies that Meletus is confusing him with Anaxagoras, a well-known Pre-Socratic, whose theories Meletus is ascribing to Socrates. To prove Meletus wrong, Socrates undertakes the task of showing that he must believe in gods of some sort. He suggests that it would be impossible to believe in human matters without believed in human beings, or in musical matters without believing in musicians, and so it much be impossible to believe in supernatural matters without believing in supernatural things. But the testimony Meletus drew up against Socrates, and teaches others to believe in supernatural matters. Socrates goes on how it was the gods who gave him the task of philosophy in order to wake...
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