Plato's Philosophy in Apology

Topics: Plato, Socrates, Philosophy Pages: 4 (1367 words) Published: June 4, 2013

Plato's Philosophy in Apology
Plato was known to be one of Socrates' students, and knew him for over 40 years. Although Plato's version of Apology is popularly believed to be (the most accurate) historical recount of what happened in 399 B.C on the day of Socrates' trial, historians cannot be sure the validity of everything he wrote. It can be argued that it is actually a philosophical work, remarking on the teachings of Socrates and his beliefs, which he stood by even until his death. Plato does attempt to develop a new mission for philosophy through this text. By writing Apology, Plato hopes to inspire "deeper thinking" amongst everyone. There are three main themes in Apology that seemed to show Plato and Socrates' philosophies. These themes attribute to what they hope to instill in others, and are akin to their other teachings. Some of these are 'moral codes', while others are contrasts to other philosophies.

Truth vs. Language

Apology was written by Plato, and set in the courtroom of Socrates' trial. Socrates acts as the speaker addressing the jury, though there is one scene where he goes into a dialogue with Meletus. The defense begins with a line that sets the mood for the rest of his speech: "I don't know, men of Athens, how you were affected by my accusers. I was almost carried away by them, they spoke so persuasively. And yet almost nothing they said is true." (17a) The beginning compares Socrates to the Sophists, arguing there is a difference between what is "truth" and what is "persuasion". He makes a strong point that persuading someone does not constitute it is true. Rather, he will address the rest of his defense in his own manner, rather than in "elegant language" (17c) in order to bring out the "truth".

Plato already makes us wonder what he may mean by this. As the defense goes on, Socrates doesn't beg or plead for his mercy. Instead he mocks his accusers, and tries to make Meletus look foolish. He's presumed to be speaking...

Cited: Reeve, C., Miller, P. "Apology". Introductory Reading in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. pg. 57-73.
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