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Plato’s “Apology”: Analysis and Evaluation


Representing a peculiar interpretation of the trial that Socrates faced after being accused of multiple wrongdoings, including the corruption of young minds, Plato’s “Apology” can be considered one of the most accurate accounts of the described events. In his work, particularly, in the passages that address the accusation of corrupting the youth, Plato states on behalf of Socrates that there are three reasons to consider him innocent. Although the argument that Meletus puts forward appears to be coherent at first, the

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In Plato’s work, Socrates claims that, to corrupt the young minds, he should know how the process of corruption is performed, in the first place. However, since the judge claims that Socrates is the only source of corruption, there is no way that Socrates could know how to corrupt young minds, to begin with (Plato). Therefore, Socrates positions Meletus’ claims as unsubstantiated, refuting the rest of the statements in a similar manner. The described analytical approach toward constructing the argument appears to be quite logical at first glance since Meletus’ argument negates the possibility of any reference for Socrates when he creates his supposed strategy for corrupting the youth, hence the lack of reasoning behind Meletus’ claim.


The presence of a coherent and logical approach to the argument is one of the main strengths of the statement that Socrates puts forward. Specifically, Socrates insists that, if fully intended, deliberate corruption would have affected not only his followers but also him, which would have been unreasonable for him to undertake. Specifically, Plato provides the following reiteration of Socrates’ argument: “[…] if a man with whom I have to live is corrupted by me, I am very likely to be harmed by him” (Plato). The specified passage indicates that Socrates nullifies the argument set by Meletus by specifying its lack of logical reasoning.


However, there are certain weaknesses to Socrates’ statement made in front of the court as well. For example, very few of his defense strategies feature the idea of human agency and free will as the foundational reasons why he could not have corrupted young people’s minds. Specifically, the fact that the specified audience should have developed the reasoning skills, the agency, and independence for making their own, independent ethical choices could have been introduced into the discussion (Plato). Instead, in Plato’s work, Socrates focuses entirely on defending his actions without questioning those of his ostensible students. Herein lies the principal weakness of Socrates’ argument as interpreted by Plato.


Based on Plato’s “Apology,” the main problem with Socrates’ arguments regarding his innocence as far as the corruption of youth was concerned, the lack of focus on the agency of the students represented the main missed opportunity, which must have led to the following accusation. Given that it is one of the key representations of the famous trial during which Socrates defended himself against a range of claims, including one of corrupting the youth, Plato’s “Apology” should be seen as the most detailed account of the events that transpired at the time. Therefore, it would be reasonable to suggest that Socrates’ argument could have been improved by introducing another perspective and, therefore, another dimension to his claim, allowing his students to share the blame along with him and, therefore, making his supposed crimeless reprehensible.


Plato. Apology. Translated by Benjamin Jowett, e-book, Project Gutenberg, 1999. Web.

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