Socrates: Was He Guilty or Innocent of the Crimes
He Was Charged With?
Most of the information that we learn about Socrates comes from the work and writings of one of his students, Plato. It has been alleged that the great Philosopher wrote nothing down for others to read, and as such, the knowledge and the teachings from Socrates that is relied upon to convey his philosophy and the epic story of his life comes not from himself, but his students who attempt to provide and accurate picture of the methods and philosophical beliefs held by their mentor and teacher.
The Apology is one of the many written dialogues written by Plato that discuss how Socrates was arrested and charged with corrupting the youth of Athens; teaching them and talking tot hem about his beliefs (including and probably most damaging that he did not belief in God, per se, and considered himself an Atheist). As one of the greatest philosophers to shape the study of Philosophy today, Socrates questioned everything and believed nothing until he could prove that there was no other logical answer. Personally, I do not believe that it is possible for one man to corrupt the youth of an entire population, however, this is what he was charged with, and ultimately convicted of in an Athenian court of law.
Clearly, it is not heard to imagine that Socrates' Atheist views were considered a crime at this time, as religion was highly regarded as a common law that we might thing of today. Although there was a court of law, as we read about in many of the Philosophy and History teachings, for someone to overtly stated that there was no God, was a punishable offense.
Socrates, a traveling teacher as he liked to call himself, questioned and challenged everyone he met and everything he heard. Also, a Sophist, he did not believe that nature or reason could be depended on to tell people why the world was the way it was. Sophists contend that people stay in their own worlds and each have their own personal belief system and that in order to discover why the world was they way it was one must question the answer and argue the question until there is no other logical rationale. Given this way of thinking, Socrates, as told by Plato, is unable to justify this logic of his charges because he does not believe that one person can ultimately control the minds, and beliefs of a population.
Today, to actually believe that someone could be sentenced to death, simply because of the way he viewed the world is completely insane. Everyone has their own beliefs, their own ideas, their own value system; and we are taught from a very young age that these are all very good qualities that should be attained by everyone. Looking back at the historical time that this took place its clear to me why, put into context, that this happened. However, I equate it today's world to cutting the tongue out of a man who expresses his views, or the hand from a writer wanting to share his thoughts and ideas in print.
Socrates believed in the strength of the actual argument over writing the information down for others to read, therefore spent the majority of his adult life in public arena's talking, arguing and questioning in order to learn and asses his own ideas and beliefs. His questions were objective in nature and based on understanding the concepts such as love, justice, and other basic principles that his arguments questioned about ones life and beliefs.
He believed that all the so called bad beliefs and actions were the result of ignorance on the part of each individual and not their intent to harm another purposefully. Socrates also contested that having knowledge was what ones virtuousness was based on and people who are taught right and know right will act right; likewise, people who are taught bad, and know bad will act bad.
In The Apology Plato explains Socrates mission as a philosopher, which is to make people understand that "No one is wise than you." (Apology...
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