Argument Against Socrates
Since Socrates is the person to whom many people listen, one of the main arguments against him is the encroachment on political morality. He constantly confuses citizens by discovering their ignorance in those issues in which they considered themselves competent. Young people, particularly the sons of wealthy citizens, following the example of Socrates, test adults and put them in an awkward position (Plato, 2013). Such behavior is unacceptable in the conditions of state morality and the order of Athens because the corruption of youth is fraught with riots and uprisings. Socrates does not cease to criticize some aspects of Athenian democracy, in particular, the practice of choosing officials by lot (Plato, 2013). His judgments may be regarded as undermining the political system and deliberate attempts to destroy the ordered system of power.
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Belief in the same gods and oaths uniting citizens generates a sense of equality and strengthens their trust in one another. However, Socrates who can be blamed for atheism deliberately introduces contention to society. The manifestations of disrespect for the gods and the non-observance of traditional religious rites expose him as a dangerous and ill-thinking person who brings danger to not only himself but also Athens. Socrates teaches how to pretend to be a lie, pursuing a naturalistic philosophy and involving as many respectable citizens as possible in his false doctrine. People following him, in particular, youth, are blinded by his rhetoric and do not realize how disastrous the ideas are that Socrates promotes for Athens and the entire state system of the city. Therefore, the apparent contradiction of political morality is the factor proving the guilt of Socrates and his illegal propaganda.
Defense of Socrates
There is nothing precarious in dealing with natural philosophical problems. Raising people is a useful thing, but if sophists are considered to be educators, in particular, those who charge tuition, educational principles lose their essence and become sources of profit (Plato, 2017). It is absurd to regard Socrates as a corruption of youth and, at the same time, recognize that all other citizens, including judges or prosecutors themselves, do not corrupt anyone. In his decisions, he is guided not by motives of civil obedience but by the considerations of moral order and is a constructive force that enlightens but not destroys (Plato, 2017). Therefore, his personality is a gift to the city and cannot be regarded as a threat.
Calls for revising the state foundations may be seen as constructive criticism prompting citizens to increase self-awareness. One of the main principles of Socrates is not to repay evil for evil or act unjustly contrary to personal beliefs (Plato, 2017). The rejection of canonical worship of the gods cannot be considered an accusatory argument because the principles of Greek democracy based on religious dogma allow individual faith or disbelief in higher powers. Thus, Socrates does not commit any actions that threaten the current political system, but rather insists on strengthening the role of the human in one’s destiny and the fate of the state.
Socrates has exchanged all his material values for a patriotic duty to society, although from the standpoint of the existing legal norms, his actions are unpatriotic and hostile. The desire to help people and enlighten them through an objective assessment of the political system characterizes him as a strong-minded person who is not ready to betray his ideals. Therefore, Socrates is a true patriot and has the right to count on the protection of his interests.
Plato. (2013). Apology. (B. Jowett, Trans.). Jersey City, NJ: Start Publishing.
Plato. (2017). Crito. (B. Jowett, Trans.). Scott Valley, CA: CreateSpace.
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