The Life Of Socrates Essay Research Paper — страница 2

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argument and the quest for general definitions, as evidenced in the writings of his younger contemporary and pupil, Plato, and of Plato’s pupil, Aristotle.. Another thinker befriended and influenced by Socrates was Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynic school of philosophy. Socrates was also the teacher of Aristippus, who founded the Cyrenaic philosophy of experience and pleasure, from which developed the more lofty philosophy of Epicures. To such Stoics as the Greek philosopher Epictetus, the Roman philosopher Seneca the Elder, and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, Socrates appeared as the very embodiment and guide of the higher life. IV. The TrialAlthough a patriot and a man of deep religious conviction, Socrates was nonetheless regarded with suspicion by many of his

contemporaries, who disliked his attitude toward the Athenian state and the established religion. He was charged in 399BC with neglecting the gods of the state and introducing new divinities, a reference to the daemonion, or mystical inner voice, to which Socrates often referred. He was also charged with corrupting the morals of the young,, leading them away from the principles of democracy; and he was wrongly identified with the Sophists,. This was possibly because he had been ridiculed by the comic poet Aristophanes in his play The Clouds as the master of a “thinking-shop” where young men were taught to make the worse reason appear the better reason. Plato’s Apology gives the substance of the defense made by Socrates at his trial; it was a bold vindication of his whole

life. He was condemned to die even though only a small majority carried the vote. When, according to Athenian legal practice, Socrates made an ironic counter-proposition to the court’s death sentence, proposing only to pay a small fine because of his value to the state as a man with a philosophic mission, the jury was so angered by this offer that it voted by an increased majority for the death penalty. Socrates? friends planned his escape from prison, but he preferred to comply with the law and die for his cause. His last day was spent with his friends and admirers, and in the evening he calmly fulfilled his sentence by drinking a cup of hemlock according to a customary procedure of execution. Plato described the trial and death of Socrates in the Apology, the Crito, and the

Phaedo. V. Apology: The Examined LifeBecause of his political associations with an earlier regime, the Athenian democracy put Socrates on trial, charging him with undermining state religion and corrupting young people. The speech he offered in his own defense, as reported in Plato’s (Apology), provides us with many reminders of the central features of Socrates? approach to philosophy and its relation to practical life. Ironic Modesty: Explaining his mission as a philosopher, Socrates reports an oracular message telling him “No one is wiser than you.” (Apology 21a) He then proceeds through a series of ironic descriptions of his efforts to disprove the oracle by conversing with notable Athenians who must surely be wiser. In each case, In each case, however, Socrates concludes

that he has a kind of wisdom that each of them lacks, namely, an open awareness of his own ignorance. Questioning Habit: The goal of Socratic interrogation, then, is to help individuals to achieve genuine self-knowledge, even if it often turns out to be negative in character. As his cross-examination of Meletus shows, Socrates means to turn the methods of the Sophists inside out, using logical nit picking to expose (rather than to create) illusions about reality. If the method rarely succeeds with interlocutors, it can nevertheless be effectively internalized as a dialectical mode of reasoning in an effort to understand everything. Devotion to Truth: Even after the jury has convicted him, Socrates declines to abandon his pursuit of the truth in all matters. Refusing to accept

exile from Athens or a commitment to silence as his penalty, he maintains that public discussion of the great issues of life and virtue is a necessary part of any valuable human life. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Apology 38a) Socrates would rather die than give up philosophy, and the jury seems happy to grant him that wish. Dispassionate Reason: Even when the jury has sentenced him to death, Socrates calmly delivers his final public words, a speculation about what the future holds. Disclaiming any certainty about the fate of a human being after death, he nevertheless expresses a continued confidence in the power of reason, which he has exhibited (while the jury has not). Who really wins will remain unclear. Plato’s dramatic picture of a man willing to face