6 - Socrates and the Apology I. The Political Scene in...

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Socrates and the Apology I. The Political Scene in Greece in the 5th Century B.C. A. The City-State Among a common people there are differences. In the 5th century BC (500-400 BC), the Greeks were spread out in a multitude of highly developed village communities called city-states. Geography, tribal division, and diversity of economic and political interest contributed to the development of separate, self-governed Greek communities. This was for the Greek the best compromise between the conflicting values of order and freedom. A community which is too small is insecure and vulnerable; a community too large risks tyranny. For the Greek, the polis was both a Greek's city and his state. Ideally, Greece was to be a collection of sovereign city- states co-operating with each other. Instead, the history became one of strife and family feuds even to the point of war. B. The Leading City-States and their Strengths 1. Athens: the cultural center of the Peloponnesians (see Thucidides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars ). 2. Thebes: the religous center (see Sophicles, Oedipus the King , Antigone , Oedipus at Colonos ) 3. Sparta: the military center (see Lycurgus, Plutarch's Parallel Lives ) 4. Corinth: the commercial center (city of luxery, wealth, prostitutes). C. Some Important Dates for Athens BC 431: Outbreak of Peloponnesian war: Athenians marked by disunity 415: Athenians losing power after failed attempt to take over Sicily 411-410: Revolution of the 400 (led by sophist Antiphon) 404: Athens is surrounded by Thebes, Spartans, and Corinthians. After starvation and disease set in, Athens surrenders. Spartans rule after this, followed by the rule of the Thebes. D. Two Types of Democracy 1. Aristocratic Democracy: Prior to 404 BC., aristocratic democracy was the form of government. In it the best or privileged ruled. E.g., the ruling class of four hundred in 412 and the Thirty in 404 BC. The Thirty were overthrown, leading to a period of restoration. 2. Egalitarian Democracy: The restoration period followed the collapse of the Aristocratic democracy in 404 BC. In egalitarian democracy, all individuals are equal; there are no class distinctions. Egalitarian democracy persecuted Socrates. II. The Philosophical Scene in Athens in the 5th century BC A. Naturalism Between the age of the Poet Homer (mid-8th century) and the age of Socrates, the Greeks began a rational study of the natural and moral order. Moving away from tradition and authority (e.g., the poetry of Homer), the naturalists sought to provide non mythical explanations which appealed to causes in the physical realm to account for all natural phenomena. The result of the naturalist movement was the development of an alternative conception of the world, as well as a different method for investigating the world, both of which differed from the Homeric tradition.
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By the 5th century, strains within naturalism had led to a denial of common sense, to skepticism, and to a denial of morality. Rational inquiry faced the following dilemma: either show that
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This note was uploaded on 11/04/2011 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Delevati during the Fall '08 term at S.F. State.

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6 - Socrates and the Apology I. The Political Scene in...

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