Plato Apology Term Paper

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Plato's Apology


The vocation of the philosopher, as represented by Socrates' in his apology to the jury, is to seek and speak the trust. One danger of that vocation is that, in seeking the truth, the philosopher reveals that many people do not know the truth, which leads the philosopher to the conclusion that he is wiser than many people. Once a philosopher comes to the conclusion that he is wiser than another, the philosopher attempts to share his wisdom. The philosopher's attempts to share wisdom place him in a situation of danger, because, by sharing his wisdom, the philosopher reveals that he believes himself to be wiser than other men.

Throughout his Apology, as recorded by Plato, Socrates expounds upon his role, as a philosopher, in society. Before explaining what a philosopher's role is, Socrates is adamant in his explanation of what a philosopher is not. Socrates explains that the vocation of a philosopher is not a natural philosopher, a teacher, an atheist, or a politician, but to go about in private, giving advice and busying himself with the concerns of others.

Initially, Socrates addresses the accusations that he is a natural philosopher. Socrates indicates that his accusers have labeled him a person who "searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others." Socrates disclaims any interest in natural philosophy.

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Then, Socrates addresses the accusations that he is a teacher, and that he takes money for teaching. Socrates makes it clear that he believes that able teachers are entitled to compensation for their services, but that he has not been taking students or accepting payment for accepting students. Instead, Socrates makes it clear that he lacks the requisite knowledge to be a teacher and that he has not been taking students.

Term Paper on Plato Apology Assignment

Furthermore, Socrates addresses the accusations that his behavior has been out of the ordinary. He says that his reputation has come from possessing a certain sort of wisdom. Furthermore, Socrates make sit clear that the wisdom he possesses is such wisdom as is attainable by man. While discussing his reputation as a wise man, Socrates also begins to dismiss the idea that he is an atheist. He tells the story of his friend Chaerephon's visit to the Oracle at Delphi, when the Oracle stated that there was no man wiser than Socrates. The story serves a dual purpose: it illustrates Socrates wisdom and shows that he believes in the gods and their messengers.

Finally, Socrates explains that, when he heard the oracle's answer, he was puzzled. Socrates knew himself to possess no wisdom, and yet the oracle, a god, named Socrates as the wisest man alive. Therefore, Socrates determined to set out and find a man wiser than he was, which would have enabled him to go to the oracle and refute the oracle's claims that there was no man wiser than Socrates. That was the beginning of Socrates' search for truth and knowledge.

No sooner had Socrates begun his search for knowledge than he realized that such a vocation was dangerous. Socrates first approached a politician and explained to the politician that, although the politician believed himself to be wise, he was really not wise. Naturally, the statements by Socrates provoked the politician's wrath. However, Socrates was satisfied with the exchange. In fact, the politician's response to Socrates' words affirmed what the oracle had said. for, though Socrates did not believe himself to possess any more knowledge than the politician, Socrates believed that he was in a better position than the politician because Socrates was willing to admit that he knew nothing.

After his experience with the politician, Socrates went to more and more people, seeking to find a man wiser than himself. However, according to Socrates, he found that "the men most in repute were wiser and better." Socrates worked his way through the politicians, the poets, and the artisans. However, despite investigating these groups, Socrates came to the conclusion that he was better off, and therefore wiser, than any of the men that he investigated.

Socrates acknowledged that the natural result of his investigation was that he made many enemies. In fact, Socrates realized after investigating the first politician that to approach men who were widely reputed to be wise and respected by many, and to find and pronounce them inferior to himself, if only by trying to impart his wisdom to them, would make him the subject of enmity. However, the second part of the philosopher's vocation, after seeking truth, was to reveal truth.

However, Socrates made it clear that he did not believe himself to be wise, even though he found that he possessed a wisdom that was wanting in other men. Again proving that he was not an atheist, Socrates declared that only God was wise. In fact, Socrates explains that the oracle's proclamation that Socrates was wisest among men was an illustration to show that the man "is wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing." Having heard this message from the oracle, Socrates knows that it is his mission to "make inquisition into the wisdom of anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the him that he is not wise."

Furthermore, although he previously made it clear that he did not consider himself a teacher, Socrates explains why the youth come to him for knowledge. Socrates explains that the youth like to hear the pretenders examined. After watching Socrates examine the pretenders, the youth would then strike out on their own and examine others. Those who found themselves examined by one of Socrates' youths, rather than being angry at themselves for pretending to be wise while lacking real wisdom, instead became angry Socrates.

Socrates attempts to explain why the pretenders are angry with Socrates. He points to the fact that, although Socrates has been accused of misleading the youth, none of his accusers can point to any teachings by Socrates. Instead, the accusers repeat the same charges that have been made against all philosophers: that they are godless. In reality, according to Socrates, these accusers are not upset that they have been questioned by Socrates or his students, but that their pretenses pretense at knowledge have been detected.

In fact, Socrates addresses the fact that some of his accusers are seeking that he be put to death, if convicted. Socrates says that, through the oracle, God ordered him to fulfill the philosopher's mission of searching into himself and other men. If Socrates had failed to do so, because of a fear of death or of any other fear, that would be a just reason for him to be arraigned as an atheist. Socrates explains to the jury that the fear of death is the pretense of wisdom, but not real wisdom, because the fear of death indicates that a person is capable of knowing the unknown.

In fact, Socrates goes on to explain that, as a philosopher, he cannot avoid a possible good, such as death, rather than a certain evil. Instead, Socrates claims that "injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonorable." In fact, knowing that he is facing a possible death sentence upon conviction, Socrates explains to the jury that, as a philosopher, he could not agree to a compromise whereby he would be acquitted, but not permitted to continue his investigations into wisdom. Socrates believes it is his duty to God to continue practicing and teaching philosophy. In fact, Socrates states that it is his duty as a philosopher to interrogate, examine, and cross-examine people as to their virtue. Furthermore, because he believes that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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