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Socrates' Fight For Justice Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

In Plato’s works Apology and Crito there is an attempt by Socrates to defend himself in court and defend his choice to receive the death penalty when found guilty. Although he makes very valid and strong arguments throughout one can only wonder why such a wise person would choose death over life. The following essay will analyze three quotes from Apology and Crito, find the correlation between them, and reveal any flaws that may exsist inside these arguments made by Socrates.
In Plato’s Apology Socrates explains to the jury the reasons he should be found not guilty against his accused crimes. Although none of the accusations have any true merit Socrates is forced into the courtroom. During his defense Socrates states, “A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life if he is to survive even a short time (Cahn pg. 36 Apology 32a1).” Socrates is arguing that anybody that wants to truly fight for justice must stay out of the public eye, and out of politics due to its corrupt nature. To back this claim Socrates follows with two examples of his past, one being, “I served as a member of our tribe, and our council was trying the ten generals who failed to pick up the survivors of a naval battle. This was illegal, as you all recognized later. I was the only member to oppose and I voted against it. The orators were ready to prosecute me and take me away (Cahn pg. 37 Apology 32b1-9).” Socrates gave the readers explicit examples of members of a political committee acting unjustly and attempting to punch those who do not follow along with their agenda. Anybody that has ever been a part of a social group that makes decisions, whether it is political or not, has most likely ran into this issue. As acknowledged by Dougal Blyth, “the Apology shows that, despite his intentions, Socrates ultimately could not avoid public political activity (Blyth).” People of power tend to follow their own agendas and are willing to punish anyone that gets in their way. Socrates would rather be punished or die before he breaks the laws that were set forth by his state, and this he says later in the same passage, “I should run any risk on the side of law and justice rather than join you. (Cahn pg. 38 Apology b10-c2).”
Socrates is eventually found guilty and is to fight no longer for his innocence, but against a penalty of death. As Socrates speaks to the jury he begins to speak more of the meanings of life opposed to the need for life. He claims, “it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living for men.. (Cahn pg. Apology39 38a1-4).” Although Socrates never explicitly states why he feels this way, but upon reading this statement and analyzing its context one can grasp a sense of this argument. Socrates is arguing that life is unlived if it is not questioned and our thoughts are not examined. He understands...

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