The Apology of Socrates: Guilty or Innocent?
In any case of law, when considering truth and justice, one must first look at the validity of the court and the system itself. In Socrates' case, the situation is no different. One may be said to be guilty or innocent of any crime, but guilt or innocence is only as valid as the court it is subjected to. Therefore, in considering whether Socrates is guilty or not, it must be kept in mind the norms and standards of Athens at that time, and the validity of his accusers and the crimes he allegedly committed. Is Socrates guilty or innocent of his accusations?
What exactly is Socrates being accused of? "Socrates is guilty of engaging in inquiries into things beneath the earth and in the heavens, of making the weaker argument appear the stronger, and of teaching others these same things" (29). Socrates is charged with impiety, a person who does not believe in the gods of Athens. Socrates defends this charge, claiming that he was propositioned by the gods through the Oracle of Delphi, to question people's wisdom. He states, "...but when god stationed me, as I supposed and assumed, ordering me to live philosophizing and examining myself and others...that my whole care is to commit no unjust or impious deed." By claiming that defense, Socrates manages to sway Meletus toward his point. This point being that Socrates cannot both be atheistic and to believe in demons, for this would contradict his not believing in gods at all, since demons are considered to be demi-gods.
Socrates is accused of not respecting those of authority and those with reputations of being wise, and protraying his role in life as to question these fiqures in their wisdom, and to disprove that they are knowledgeable and wise. Socrates says,
"...and this is what will cause my condemnation if I am condemned; not Meletus of Antyus either, but that prejudice and resentment of the multitude which have been the destruction of many good men before me, and I think will be so again. There is no prospect that I shall be the last victim" (34).
Socrates implies that the true nature of this charge was, in fact, vengeance carried out on the part of the power-holders of the Athenian society; the politicians, the poets, the manual artisans. Socrates, unwillingly made fools out of these people by exposing their speeches as mere rhetoric than actual wisdom and knowledge. These men who were seen as the wisest and the most enlightened, but in fact, by believing that they are most knowledgeble is what keeps them from real wisdom. Socrates is also being charged with attacking the Athenian society by corrupting its citizens, mainly the youth. He defends himself by claiming that either Meletus...