“Born in either 469 or 470 B.C. […] Socrates was son to Sophroniscus and Phainarete of Alopeke village under the jurisdiction of Athens (Brian, p.4).” He was probably a trained mason like his father but his life was more prosperous as an army hoplite supplying personal war-gears and armour.
Socrates was however poor with a low standard occupation. Arguably, his lifestyle was out of choice and one would easily locate him at marketplace or city-square, which would otherwise become the municipal of Athens. According to Brian (p.4), Socrates was a brave fighter and campaigner at various encounters from 422 to 432 B.C. His military experience made him adequately famous as a philosopher or sophists. Sophists required payment for their educational or informative services.
The accusations against Socrates was based on misleading of young minds into perceiving the wrong as right or finding better reasons from what was against the Jurisdiction.
Socrates was a man of unfathomable religious convictions and a patriot, but most of his contemporary allies regarded him with suspicion and dislike due to his attitude towards the state of Athens and the various religious convictions. In 399 B.C., Socrates faced charges of abandoning authority orders and in support of introducing new divinities, which was a reference of his own demonian. He also faced accusations of corrupting morals of the youth by swindling them against democratic principles.
The main basis for Socrates’ defence is the apology he made at the trial. He clearly vindicates the true lifestyle of his entire lifestyle by ironically placing a counter position against the ruling of Athenians legal panel of judges. He proposed that the panel must consider a small fine for the reason that he had a philosophical value and role in the society.
These alterations angered the jury and a majority votes for his death penalty, despite voting by just a small number. This situation leads to his condemnation. This paper presents an argument for the acquittal of Socrates from the death penalty. It takes the situation back to 399 B.C during Socrates trait at Athens. This advocacy is therefore in present tense but based in the past.
Socrates maintains calm and collected status and unlike the other Sophists, the self-claimed philosopher does not accept payment for teaching his students (Poppas, p.17). The vindication that he had a lot awaiting his future is evidently a conscious state of expression out of utmost good faith.
The jury must accept that he does not impose personal claims out of arrogance and pride. His lifestyle in a clear indication that his refusal for payment by the students is for the fact that, he appreciate moral uprightness and is ready to assist others garner genuine knowledge about social morality, in the true spirit of promoting literacy.
Socrates indicates that it is possible to acquire genuine wisdom from personal believes and those of others. I also wish to strongly point out that Socrates has a genuine reason to stand by his philosophical point of view. His task is not to provoke people’s way of thinking; he genuinely teaches and emphasizes full existence of knowledge for each person, through decisive ability to gather or discover existence of knowledge within the soul.
He only works to encourage people to become consciously aware of the inner reflection. Socrates has a strong personality of teaching and guiding through knowledge acquisition or discovery. A good example of his endeavours is his guidance of an untrained person to formulate the Pythagorean Theorem (Poppas, p.17).
This is a clear indication that Socrates’ is truly committed to provoking people’s inner knowledge and abilities that lie within. He is in support of a moral logic that knowledge in mainly innate within the soul, and people mainly learn from inner thinking rather than experience.
He has a unique but logical way of life where the emphasis is on the need to provoke ways of thinking, rather than teaching people systematically what they ought to learn. Socrates contribution to education is through triggering of active thoughts as a way of living as opposed to a methodical doctrine. He definitely have a clear understanding of the need for acquiring basic concepts or fundamental knowledge, and thus the reasons he emphasizes on the need for analytical examination styles for rational or critical ethical problems.
Various philosophers such as Plato are able to stand in line with Socrates’ style of administering knowledge, and thus share similar insights regarding ethics as the best and strongest choice for acquisition of information (Saillant, p.1). I wish to acknowledge that Socrates stresses the intellectual basis of identifying ethical virtues and confines them within the basic human wisdom.
In investigating his moral point of view, the exploration touches a wide range of common human problems concerning politics, natural science, governance theories, metaphysics, religious conflicts in theology, and various hypotheses of acquiring knowledge (Saillant, p.1).
In line with Socrates’ apology, he has the chance of accept the ruling that the jury acquits him from the charges on condition that he stops philosophizing. He however decides to follow the order of his god and wrong the city due to what the law terms to be civil disobedience. Socrates understands the consequences of such defiance. In the apology he states that “I do know [. . .] that it is wicked and shameful to do wrong, to disobey one’s superior, be he god or man” (Saillant, p.1).
This statement can be ambiguous depending on the interpretation. One of the interpretations of the understanding the jury ought to consider would be that the accused is trying to consider the superiority levels and decide the side one should follow given the situation at hand. The other interpretation the jury should critically analyze is defying serving civic authority for the divine rule that seem uncommon among faithful.
Logically even when the law fails to weigh and clearly stipulate the levels of authority and the difference between divine and civil authority, the divine authority give the impression of rational superiority for most believers. From any civil interpretation, assuming that the law is clear and rule do not conflict; the higher or superior authority overrules the lesser authority.
Socrates considers that the divine authority is superior to the civil authority thus the reason he certainly consider the divine orders. If one faces two superior orders, it is only possible to obey one order at the expense of the other. Arguably, the way the accused presents his choice is interpretable to the second sense where he may appear committed to being a disgrace to his choice of the lower authority.
If the jury consider either of the interpretations, the course of action must prevail alongside the divine order. Socrates supports this action. Considering the level of superiority will nullify the rules by civil authority and the accused will not have committed civil disobedience. The jury should not consider any form of harm to the lesser authority.
There are various reasons to support Socrates point of view. Socrates’ decision postulates the existence of higher authority thus invalidating the orders of the lesser authority. I urge the jury to consider pre-empting the principle of weighing amount of disgrace over the level of authority, as the basis for deciding superiority complex.
I object to those who consider determining the level of authority as a disgrace. Socrates’ case brings less shame and disgrace to the jury, when he interprets his point of reasoning over achieving educational goals. “The amount of shame or disgrace one may endure for the achievement of a goal, […], ought not to be a deciding factor is the resulting shame or disgrace” (Pappas, p.13). In determining the orders to follow, the level of authority is the determining factor of shame.
The authority has right of command and Socrates acknowledges the policy. Since the law fails to outline clearly the cause of action for conflicting cases, the right of command must vanish in cases where two or more orders conflict. The law must therefore present all forms of authorities and weigh superiority. Socrates’ claim is only normative one indicating the existence of superiority for god or man. His apology supports the claim of divine power.
From his disagreement standpoint, “disrespecting a judgment or escaping the city or evade the death penalty is wrong because he would cheat a just agreement with the city and its laws and, thereby, harm them” (Pappas, p.13). The accused responds to divine orders to analyze his inner soul and those of others thoroughly to remove any inconsistencies. I support his point of view that the soul is divine since it reveals personality and fights ignorance.
Brian, MacArthur. The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1996.Print.
Pappas, Nickolas. Review of Socrates’ Divine Sign: Religion, Practice and Value in Socratic Philosophy. Michigan, MI: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2005. Print
Saillant, Said. The Role of Inconsistency in the Death of Socrates. Prometheus.
Johns Hopkins Philosophy Journal. Vol 2, Issues 2. May 10 2009. Web. November 8 2010.