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Socrates

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Socrates


Socrates



Socrate's First Accusers and Athenian Law Of all confrontations in political philosophy, the biggest is the conflict between philosophy and politics. The problem remains making philosophy friendly to politics. The questioning of authoritative opinions is not easily accomplished nor is that realm of philosophy - the pursuit of wisdom. Socrates was the instigator of the conflict. While the political element takes place within opinions about political life, Socrates asks the question "What is the best regime and how should I live?" Ancient thought is riddled with unknowns and can make no such statement as "how should I live." The Socratic philosophy offers an alternative and prepares the way for the alternative of absolutes. This alternative is not without its faults. Socratic philosophy is plagued by a destructive element. It reduces the authoritative opinions about political life but replaces it with nothing. This is the vital stem from which the "Apology of Socrates" is written. Because of the stinging attack on Athenian life, and the opinions which they revere so highly, Socrates is placed on trial for his life. The question now becomes why and in what manner did Socrates refute the gods and is he quilty? Socrates, himself, speaks out the accusers charges by saying "Socrates does injustice and is meddlesome, by investigating the things under the earth and the heavenly things, and by making the weaker the stronger and by teaching others these things" (Plato, 19b;c). This is the charge of the "old" accusers. It is seen from an example in "The Clouds". Strepsiades goes to Socrates in order to learn how to pursuade his son by "making the weaker speech the stronger" (Aristophanes, 112). Why does Socrates remind the assembly about the old accusers? It appears improper for a man on trial to bring about his other 'crimes'. Aristophanes, in particular, is implicated by Socrates as an old accuser. "For you yourselves used to see these things in the comedy of Aristophanes" (Plato, 19c). The poets helped to shape Greek culture. Poetry was passed on and perpetuated the city where thought constantly changed. Philosphy begins in debunking what the city thinks they know in order to refute the god. It is evident that Socrates is not guided by the gods of the city. Socrates says "it is not part of the same man to believe in daimonian and divine things" (Plato, 27e). Socrates is subtly admitting his guilt. Perhaps Socrates believs in gods, but if so, they are not the gods of the city. Socrates simply denies that he has had any part in celestial or subterranean inquiry - he simply speaks "elsewhere". Socrates goes on to say that those who do are reported to be atheists. However, Socrates says that "Zeus does not eveeen exist" (Aristophanes, 367). Socrates replaces Zeus with nature, the permanent and necessary things accessable to reason. This is an outrage to any Athenian. To deny the gods is to deny faith and ultimately the authoritarian opinions on which their politics is based. Why does Socrates think that he is being unjustly punished? Chaerophon had told Socrates that the Pythian Oracle had said that Socrates was the wisest man. Socrates admits that "I am conscious that I am not wise, either much or little" (...

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