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reminds us that Meletus accused him of believing in spiritual things other than the traditional gods. But, asks Socrates, can one believe in spiritual things without believing in spirits? Or: “does any man believe in spiritual activities who does not believe in spirits?” (27c)x.To help us understand this point, Socrates points out parallels to this relationship between adjectives and nouns. That is to say: “spiritual” depends on “spirit” theway that “human” depends on “human being.”You can’t believe that something is “spiritual” or “human”-like unless you also believe that there are things like spirits and human persons—at least as far as Socrates is concerned. xi.If even Meletus would agree that Socrates believes in spiritual things, then he’d also have to agree that Socrates believes in spirits (daimones). That means he believes in the divine, which in turns means he believes in gods. Meletus’ refined claim—viz. that Socrates is an atheist who doesn’t believe in any gods at all—is thus false. And it’s false even on the grounds of Meletus’ original accusation against Socrates. Thus Meletus has contradicted himself and—we repeat—is not serious in his arguments against Socrates.
Sean Hannan The Examined Life Fall 2015 24 xii.Socrates’line of argument here seems to accomplish at least two feats: 1.It allows him to build up his reputation as religious, against the slanders of Meletus. Even if he’s stopped short of proving his utter fidelity to the traditional gods of the city, he has shown that his religious beliefs are less radical than his enemies would have you believe. And he’s certainly no atheist! 2.More subtly, it allows him to continue undermining Meletus’ character.The point isn’t just to make a substantive claim about religion, but also to show that Meletus’ arguments lack internal consistency.Followed through to their conclusions, Meletus’ own claims contradict each other and so fall apart under their own weight. His case against Socrates should then fail, not only because the content of its accusations is false, but also because the form of those accusations is self-defeating. e.The Fear of Death i.Having defended his “occupation”—of divinely ordained wisdom-tester—Socrates now faces an added layer of disdain. People might ask him if he’s “ashamed” that he’s lived his life in such a way that his own city is thinking about putting him to death. To Socrates, however, death is far from the most shameful fate to fear. ii.Far from worrying about whether or not his actions will bring about his own death, Socrates thinks a man “should look to this only in his actions, whether what he does is right or wrong, whether he is acting like a good or a bad man.” (28b)iii.With this sentiment, Socrates suggests he is following in the footsteps of Achilles, the great hero from Homer’s Iliad. He even refers explicitly to Achilles’ proclamation that he’d rather die for justice than live on as a laughingstock. (28c-d) Like Achilles,