The Destructive Cross-Examination of Socrates

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Socrates spent most of his life in Athens. During his life he witnessed the rise and glory of Athens and the rapid decline of Athens during the Peloponnesian war. Socrates met and talked with a variety of people such as politicians, statesmen, sophists, poets, architects, and ordinary citizens. He taught philosophy to the youth of Athens, devoted friends, and pupils like Crito. Plato was one of Socrates’ students, and he is considered to be most brilliant student of Socrates. In fact, Plato is the major source of knowledge about Socrates’ life. Socrates questioned and cross-examined Athenians about their moral, religious, and political beliefs. People found it difficult to understand him. His habits were strange, and his arguments were hard to understand. Socrates created a revolution in Greek philosophy. Plato portrayed this revolution in Defence of Socrates, Euthyphro, and Crito. Socratic Method is characterized by asking questions. When Socrates talks, he asks the questions all the time. He teaches and refutes with questions. He talks to people with questions. The central element that upset the Athenians was the destructive cross-examination of the principles and beliefs that Athenians lived by, which consequently led to Socrates’ death because his contemporaries did not want to admit their own ignorance.Socrates was searching for the meaning of things; he wanted proof of what was defined which would give logical reason for itself. The fact that really hurt Athenians was the attack of the most fundamental principles of Athenian life. Socrates did not recruit people to follow him; rather he went out and asked them their views. His lectures were not characterized by forcing his ideas onto other people. The individuals brought their point of views on particular subject in dialogues set up by Socrates. Socrates’ way of testing or challenging a belief is by seeing what believer is committed to. A man, who makes a statement, especially in debate with Socrates, must be careful what he claims to know. One of the examples is a dialogue between Euthyphro and Socrates. They both have pending lawsuits. Socrates is accused of impiety, and Euthyphro is going to prosecute his own father. Euthyphro’s father is charged with killing a day-laborer. According to Euthyphro his actions to prosecute his father is a model for piety. It doesn’t matter if the guilty one is a relative or a stranger, murder is murder. Euthyphro justified his actions by saying that he knows what holy or unholy is. Socrates wants to know what is holy or unholy since he was accused of impiety, and it seems that Euthyphro has exact knowledge of religion. The discussion between Socrates and Euthyphro illustrate an alternative approach to answer. Euthyphro’s answer to what is holy is in a form that lists individual actions. Socrates presents the questions that are mutually exclusive. For example,”…is the holy loved by the gods because it is holy? Or is it holy because it is loved?” He asks plenty of questions like that. Euthyphro (the respondent) has to make a choice between the alternatives presented. Socrates accepts what is a false answer to his question. The dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro demonstrated the untruth. The definition of holy was not discovered. This cross examination made Euthyphro very uncomfortable. As Socrates demonstrated, Euthyphro did not have exact knowledge of religion and what holy or unholy is.If Euthyphro, who is professionally devoted to religion, cannot produce an adequate answer or some valid criterion of holy, it is hardly to be expected that Athenian citizens will provide intelligent answers to such questions. Socrates was charged with irreligion, impiety, and corruption of youth. The Defence of Socrates is divided into three speeches. The opening is the criticism of the peroration in the court, and Socrates is carried away by the speeches of his accusers. His defense is based on the word “truth.” At the beginning of...
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