The_Apology_Handout - The Apology We were introduced to...

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The Apology We were introduced to Socrates and the circumstances surrounding his trial in the Euthyphro . In the Apology , we learn more about the nature of the charges against him, the people who have put him on trial, and his response to his accusers. Socrates begins by responding to what he calls “the older charges.” These accusations have been around much longer and have done more damage in prejudicing many Athenians (members of the jury) against Socrates. According to Socrates, these older accusers claim: “Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.” There are two accusations here: Heresy: they think he doesn’t believe in the gods, but instead teaches natural philosophy : this is basically naturalism where physical explanations are given for natural phenomena Sophistry: they think that he teaches others how to make a weaker argument overcome a stronger argument by means of rhetoric (appeal to emotion, ad hominem attacks, circular reasoning). In response, Socrates asserts he doesn’t consider himself a teacher. He asks the gallery whether there are any witnesses against him willing to testify that he has taught anything he is accused of and there is no reply. He also defends himself against accusations that he takes payment for teaching: “As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take money; that is no more true than the other.” Of course it is only natural to wonder, if Socrates hasn’t been teaching or professing his wisdom, why have charges been brought up against him in the first place? He must have causing some sort of trouble for people to have taken notice of him. Well apparently, the stories about his alleged wisdom originated from an incident his friend had with the Oracle of Delphi. When asked whether there was anyone wiser than Socrates, the priestess relied that there was no man wiser. Socrates goes on to tell of how he reacted to this news. He knew he didn’t possess wisdom so he figured out a way of testing the answer given by the oracle. He decided that if he could find someone wiser than himself, he would be able to go back to the god with proof that the prophecy was wrong. He decides to interrogate those who profess to have wisdom in order to figure out if they wise or not. He winds up questioning three groups e Socrates' speech isn’t an “apology” in the way we commonly understand it though. “Apology” comes from the Greek word "apologia," which translates a speech made in defense. So he is defending himself and his actions instead of apologizing for them.
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