Reflection on Socrates
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“I trust what I say is right,” is only one of the wise remarks that Socrates makes. He is a very confident man, but he expresses his confidence in an ironic way by his intricate sentences and clever remarks. His trial is interesting because he hits key points: why he is being accused, why he should be acquitted and finally why he feels it is acceptable that he is convicted. He contradicts himself frequently because at one point he flaunts his wisdom and great intellectual qualities and then he changes and mentions how humble and helpful of a citizen he is to society. He says many times that he is wise but not the wisest, which makes him appear to be modest. He always aims to speak the truth and makes those who think they know it all appear to be fools. At one point, Meletus does not know what to say because he is dumfounded by Socrates’ arguments. Socrates says, “I cannot help thinking that Meletus is reckless and impudent and that he has written this indictment in a spirit of mere wantonness and youthful bravado.” (p.44) Socrates criticizes one of his accusers and tells them and the jury that there is no substantial proof of his allegations.
Socrates is on trial for supposedly corrupting the youth and speaking against the gods. He is accused by Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon. He is being criticized for thinking differently and individually, and the men he is surrounded by at this trial are citizens who abide or at least pretend to abide by the law. Socrates also mentions his deep relationship with the oracle and how the oracle is a witness of the truth he speaks. He says the oracle believes he is the wisest of men and the oracle, of course, does not lie. I find it interesting that he goes as far as finding someone who is wiser than him. However, he comes down to this conclusion, “…I am better off than he is for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know.” (p.38)
Socrates breaks down his own case and mentions his bad qualities and reputation among the Athenians. He also mentions that he has been a private citizen, and that in the courtroom he has to face “well educated” people. This is where he brings out his irony because his arguments always surpass the arguments of his opponents. He discusses very interesting topics like, “Can a man believe in spiritual and divine agencies, and not in spirits or demigods? or …and no one knows whether death, which men in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil may not be the greatest good.” (p.45 and p.47)
In Plato’s Apology, Socrates shows little mind for death. The thought of death is more comforting to him then the thought of doing an unjust deed. He is very persistent in his ways, which makes him more appealing to me. He is willing to die before changing his ways of public speaking, teaching, and beliefs, and strongly believes that no man, including himself, should attempt to escape death. His determination is also visible throughout the entire trial because he puts up a good fight. He supports his opinion with wit and facts until the last minute.
I admire Socrates because he is ambitious and open-minded. He says, “O judges, to be able to examine the leader…what infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions!” (p.60) There is also a part towards the end of the dialogue where Socrates begins to sound like Jesus because he says that he is not angry with his condemners and that they have done him no harm.
From this apology, I am indecisive as to whether Socrates is an honest, intelligent man who simply speaks his mind and seeks for the deeper meaning of life or is he a wise talker who knows how to phrase certain ideas and make people believe what he believes. Is it part of a huge conspiracy to change society and the way it works? These questions are left unanswered and this is probably so that the reader assumes a suitable conclusion according to his or her taste.