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Unformatted text preview: I.A. Plato, “The Trial of Socrates” PHIL 123 PHIL 123 Background Background Socrates – Plato – Aristotle By the time of his trial, Socrates has embarrassed many of the wise and influential men of Athens People who thought they knew a lot and who had big reputations Through a series of questions, Socrates would usually show how their theories were contradictory So finally, all his enemies have him charged with atheism—leading the youth of Athens away from the Greek gods Note: when Socrates mentions God, he’s not talking about the JudeoChristian God He’s talking about the god who speaks through the oracle at Delphi: Apollo Theism – monotheism – polytheism – atheism Cont’d… Meletus’s charge Meletus’s charge against Socrates “that I teach them not to acknowledge the gods which the state acknowledges” Meletus: “for he says that the sun is stone, and the moon earth” Why is that atheism? Socrates’ reply Socrates’ reply Socrates: “Friend Meletus, you think that you are accusing Anaxagoras. . . .” 
everything is made of the same material atoms Anaxagoras was one of the first atomists: The difference between a copper coin and a tree is just the arrangement of atoms The sun and moon, he taught, were likewise made up of atoms The sun was just a giant, very hot stone Contrary to the charges, Socrates claims not Contrary to the charges, Socrates claims to have any great knowledge Including theological matters Contrast, the Politician doesn’t know that he doesn’t know anything
have the right answer He doesn’t realize how ignorant he is Socrates knows that neither he nor the politician Same story for the poets and the artisans They had some knowledge, but still tended to think they knew more than they did Later, Socrates argues that if indeed he has Truth Truth been misleading the youth through false teaching, he should be instructed in the truth rather than being put on trial In another dialogue, Socrates argues a related point: people only do evil out of ignorance
injustice, they would always do the right thing I.e., if people know right from wrong and justice from Q: Do you think that’s right? If people are all better educated, will we all be better people? How this plays out in our society: education as the How solution to all societal ills solution Politics Politics Socrates claims he was “too honest a man to be a politician and live” Q: What did he mean? Life Life After having been found guilty, Socrates discusses why exile would be worse than death If his own people despise and harass him, what will others do? Cont “Someone Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living” is cont He can’t not ask questions because “… the life which is unexamined is not worth living”
philosophy What’s One of the most famous phrases in the history of it mean? In In my Intro. to Philosophy class, they put it this way: “what’s the meaning of life?” this
A better way to put it is “what kinds of things better are worth spending your life on?” are
Socrates Socrates thinks that’s the most important question you can ask yourself you In fact, if you don’t ask that question, Socrates In says life isn’t worth living says ...
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- Winter '08