Socrates was a philosopher from Athens. His moral and intellectual integrity is reflected in all aspects of his life. This is evident even in the face of betrayal and execution by his fellow Athenians. Socrates way of thinking and of life is presented in four well-known works. These include the Platonic Dialogue Euthyphro, Apology of Soctrates, the Crito, and Aristophanes’ Clouds. His influence on Plato’s dialogues greatly affected the development of Western philosophy (West and West 9).
Charges made against Socrates
According to Westand West(10), Socrates was charged with impiety and corrupting the young. He challenged the Athenians who attributed every claim they made to wisdom. Consequently, he was hated by most of the Athenians. In addition, the youths followed and imitated him. This made the elders look foolish by showing their ignorance in the beliefs they held.
Therefore, they charged him with promoting corruption among the young people. His examination of moral and political opinions of his fellow Athenians brought him into conflict with the city’s gods and its laws. This challenge was viewed by the fathers of his young followers as an attack on their paternal and political authority.
Socrates used reason as one of his philosophies in life. He did not just accept answers on issues. On the contrary, he first tested them in conversation and debate. He insisted that life both in public and private should be guided by the knowledge of what is right. He further stated that knowledge is different from opinion. Though he was guided by the truth about right and wrong, he did not think that truth was easy to come by and sometimes he wondered if it could be discovered at all (Westand West 10-11).
To the charge of corrupting the young, Socrates arguments proved futile. For instance, he does not show in any way that he is more of an expert on education than the law and hence his arguments do not help in proving his innocence. In addition, he argues that he could not harm the young intentionally since he knew that harming someone would lead to harm in retaliation. In response to the charge of impiety, it is less convincing.
This is because it proves as a contradiction of Meletus charge against him. The arguments are not sound. For example, he is guilty of impiety because he does not believe in the Gods of the city since he knows no truth about them. He is also guilty of corrupting the young because he teaches them to disbelieve in the authority of the gods and the laws (Westand West 19).
Socrates should have been imprisoned instead of being exiled or executed. This is because what he propagated was not really meant to corrupt the young or defy the laws as it was claimed. If viewed positively, Socrates insights brought about political liberalization and respect of one another’s each rights. The charges made against Socrates were the main reasons that he was brought to trial. However, he could not prove his innocence in a convincing manner (Westand West 17).
Persecuting people who try to criticize the powerful has been a common occurrence in many places globally. An example is in Rwanda, where the Tutsi minorities persisted in their military offensive and demands for political power and refused to come to an agreement with the Hutu government. This led to retaliation from the Hutu regime by killing more than three-quarters of Rwanda’s domestic Tutsi.
West, Grace & West, Thomas. 4 texts on Socrates. New York: Cornell University Press, 1998. Print.