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Socrates’ trial Plato, The Apology. Socrates and Plato 469-399 BCE427-327 BCE.

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Presentation on theme: "Socrates’ trial Plato, The Apology. Socrates and Plato 469-399 BCE427-327 BCE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Socrates’ trial Plato, The Apology

2 Socrates and Plato BCE BCE

3 Socrates trial 501 dikasts

4 The Apology: Background Athenian Democracy Peloponnesian Wars ( BCE) Rule of Thirty Tyrants (8 months in BCE) and Socrates’ friendship with Critias, one of the leaders of the Thirty Friendship with Alcibiades (Defeat at Syracuse, Sicily) The Sophists – Aristophanes’ The Clouds Socrates’ anti democratic views Delphic oracle and the creation of powerful enemies within Athens Religious oddity: His own personal daemon

5 The Apology: Philosophers vs. Sophists Sophists Elegant rhetoric Persuasive Clever Disdain for Truth Philosophy Aimed at Truth Question and Answer Plain Earnest

6 Informal Charges “There’s a man called Socrates, a ‘wise’ man, a thinker about things in the heavens, an investigator of all things below the earth, and someone who makes the weaker argument the stronger. (18 b-c). Longevity No defense No named accusers – except perhaps for Aristophanes

7 Defense of Informal Charges Personal Daemon (conscience or intuition who must be obeyed above all else) Different interest than the Pre-Socratics No interest in the make-up of the external world: the inward turn Not a sophist: is not paid for his ‘teaching’ Chaerephon and the Delphic Oracle The conceit of wisdom (Hubris) Recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge

8 Formal Charges Meletus (poets), Anytus (artisans and politicians), and Lycon (orators). Anytus was a democratic leader who helped restore democracy to Athens after the Thirty were expelled. Probably the real leader of the three. “Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young, and of not acknowledging the gods the city acknowledges, but new daimonic activities instead” (24 b).

9 Corruption of the young: discussion with Meletus Who improves the young and who harms them? All Athenians improve them except Socrates who harms them Analogy to horse training: The few improve, the many harm We would choose to live among good people better than bad (because good people benefit others while bad people harm them). So, if I am harming them, I must be doing so unintentionally. But if so, then the remedy is “private instruction and admonishment” not a public trial (26a).

10 Impiety charge Atheist: “You don’t acknowledge any gods at all” (26c). Not Anaxagoras Can you believe in godly activities without believing also in gods (analogy: can you believe in human activities without believing in humans) He clearly believes in godly activities: daimons

11 Fear and doing the right thing Fighting in Peloponnesian War Giving up Philosophy? Athens: pursuing honour and wisdom rather than wealth Admonishes youth to pursue virtue over wealth Putting Socrates to death (and banning him or getting him to stop philosophizing) more harm to Athens than to Socrates. Socrates as gadfly. Private vs public life (32) Events where Socrates stood up despite possible retribution (32)

12 Guilty verdict Not surprised (mere 30 votes difference) Politics: “if Anytus hadn’t come forward with Lycon to accuse me, Meletus would have been fined a thousand drachmas, since he wouldn’t have received a fifth of the votes” (36a). I should get what I deserve. I have devoted myself to the city and its people so I deserve “something good” (36d). Free meals in the Prytaneum, i.e., the house of the king or prytanis. Death may be a good or a bad thing. Imprisonment? Fine? Exile? Keeping quiet and minding your own business? 30 minas fine to be put up by his friends (a significant amount of money = ten year’s salary for someone engaged in public works.

13 Death penalty and Final Words Words to those who voted for his death Denigrated Athens’ reputation for a little time (before Socrates, as an old man, would have died anyway) No regrets (and no bad behaviour on his part) There are worse things than death, like loosing your honour. Curse: Vengeance on them via younger men like Socrates.

14 Death penalty and Final Words Words to those who voted for him Conscience is clear – daimonic voice Death is either a sleeping state or a good thing – where Socrates can talk with great men who have died “Nothing bad can happen to a good man, whether in life or death” (41d). Take care of my sons the way I have taken care of you – by questioning them and getting them to pursue what’s important.


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