Socrates is an Athenian and one of the founders of western philosophy. He is is mainly known through the works of conventional writers, especially the writings of his students, Plato and Xenophon (Ramose 69). Most of his achievements and thoughts appear in the writings of his students, for example, Aristotle, Xenophon, and Plato, because Socrates did not write anything on his own. Accounts about Socrates can be derived from three existing sources, i.e. conversation of Plato and Xenophon, the drama of Aristophanes, as well as scholars’ description.
Some facts about his life that are available are the following. His wife was called Xanthippe and she was younger than he was (Ramose 70). According to Ramose (74), he was a stone-cutter; the profession was inherited from his father. He exceptionally carved the sculpture of the Three Graces, which stood near the Acropolis till the 2nd century A.D. (Ramose 77). However, ancient sources state that, after having retired, he did not continue his career as a stone-cutter, but devoted himself to philosophy. It is also evident that the philosopher served in the Athenian army, where he saved lives of many people, such as Alcibiades (Ralkowski 394). Socrates is famous for developing the various philosophies that are still applied in modern society and philosophy. They include the Socratic method of solving problems, philosophical beliefs, knowledge, virtues, politics, covertness, and satirical dramatists.
Socrates’ Trial and Death
He lived during the time of Athenians’ transition from domination to democracy. He was an opponent of democracy, and some scholars describe his trial as the one that was politically instigated. He was always in conflict with political leaders because of criticism of their position and holding his own position on morality (Ralkowski 397). He was constantly against the credence that the privileged had been always on the right and referred to that belief as immorality. His social and moral censor made his situation worse, and his endeavor to promote fairness and justice was a core cause of his execution. His life was endangered after his friend had asked whether there had been somebody wiser than Socrates. His friend’s answer to him was absurd because he knew he was not intelligent (Ralkowski 398). Therefore, he questioned many to find out whether it was true that he was wiser than they were. He later realized that he was wiser than the other were because he was aware of his own unawareness. Ralkowski (399) argues that those Athenians who were questioned appeared to look foolish, and this made them turn against him and accuse him of unlawful activities, such as Heresy and corrupting the young. However, he defended himself as a meddler until the closing stages. During his trial, the logician was asked to define his penalty, and he suggested that he should have been paid remuneration by the administration and free food for the rest of his life for the good work he had done to the Athenians (Critchley 82).
It is critical to note that despite the fact that he played a key role in promoting justice and fairness, he was found guilty of debasing the minds of the young Athenians and rejecting the gods (Critchley 86). Consequently, he was sentenced to death by taking a blend of poison hemlock. It is important to note that Socrates gave an insolent justification because he believed that he was better dead than alive, and the right time had come for him to die. Although he had an opportunity to escape, he believed that having done so, he would be chased by the fear of death and would not be able to reflect himself as a true philosopher (Critchley 89). According to him, there was no place for him to escape as his teaching would not be approved in any other country, and it would also signify a break of his “social contract”. He also feared that his friends would have been held responsible for his escape if he had ran away. Critchley (91) states that Socrates’ perseverance and courage to face death made him equal to a martyr.
Critchley, Simon. The book of dead philosophers. New York, NY: Random House LLC, 2009. Print.
Ralkowski, Mark. “Why Socrates Died.” Ancient Philosophy 31.2 (2011): 392-404. Print.
Ramose, Mogobe. “Dying a hundred deaths: Socrates on truth and justice.” Phronimon 15.1 (2014): 67-80. Print.