Trial and Death of Socrates Essay

Pages: 3 (1101 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy

Trial and Death of Socrates

Why did Socrates think that it was illogical for a virtuous person to be afraid of death?

It should be established first of all that Socrates is virtuous and he deals in logic. His Socratic dialogues (recorded by Plato) delve into the logic of almost everything believed and stated. In Socrates' response to the Athenian jury (that condemned him to death) he mentions that while he has "never" done any "wrong" to any one "intentionally," he didn't really have time to defend himself. That said, he cleverly states that since he's done no wrong to anyone, why would he then do wrong to himself "…by asserting that I deserve some evil and to make some such assessment against myself?" (like death) (37-b). "I should have to be inordinately fond of life, gentlemen of the jury," he continued, to assume that other men would put up with my conversation (37-d).

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What reason does Socrates give for preferring death to living? For one thing, he says "You see by my age, that I am already advanced in years and close to death," and he added that if the jury had waited a little longer to put him on trial he could have saved them the trouble because he would have met his mortality "…of its own accord" (38-c). He goes on to say that he could have used "…lamentations and tears" and could have begged for his life but that would have been "unworthy of me"; begging and saying things that are untrue in his own defence are the things the jury was "…accustomed to hear from others" (38-e). And here is a very good passage that illustrates his preference to being condemned to death rather than be allowed to live:

Essay on Trial and Death of Socrates Assignment

"I would rather die after this kind of defence than live after making the other kind" because neither he, Socrates nor "…neither any other man should, on trial or in war, contrive to avoid death at any cost" (38-e / 39-a). In other words Socrates wanted his integrity to remain intact even after he was gone; he wanted his legacy to be that of a man who sought honesty in all he did. And he made the point that just because young people gathered around him and emulated his questioning style that was no reason to be condemned to death; but if it is the desire of the jury to convict him, as a virtuous person, he does not fear death. Being condemned to death "perhaps had to happen, and I think it is as it should be" (39-b). He believes in his logic that there is "great hope" that "death is a blessing"; if death is truly like "a dreamless sleep" (again, his logic) "for all eternity" than "…what greater blessing could there be, gentlemen of the jury?" (40-d / 40-e).

Once again, because he is virtuous, he turns to logic when he alludes to Minos and Radamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus, all "demi-gods who have been upright in their own life" (41-a). Minos and Radamanthus are sons of Zeus and Europa who have become judges of the dead; those "true judges" in the afterlife will be a joy for Socrates to be "judged by" because it means Socrates will have "…escaped from those who… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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