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Socrates Defense in the Apology

Socrates, in Plato's Apology, summarizes the charges against himself. It is charged that Socrates is an "evil-doer who . . . makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others" (65). It is also charged against Socrates that he "corrupts the youth; and who does not believe in the gods of the state, but has other new divinities of his own" (74).

Socrates responds by arguing that the charges are false, that they were brought against him by people with ulterior motives having nothing to do with the search for truth or the good of Athens or its people, and that instead of being punished for impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens, he should be treated as a hero.

Socrates "apology" for philosophy, actually a powerful and humble defence of philosophy, offers a self-portrait based not on impiety or pride or false gods or corruption or teaching lies for pay, but rather on a vigilant attention to and exposure of shoddy thinking and false wisdom and knowledge.

Socrates asks how he can be accused of putting himself and his knowledge above others, of putting his version of reality above that of the city's, when in fact the basis of his philosophy is that he knows nothing and knows that he knows nothing. All he has done his whole life is attempt to rationally, simply, and usually civilly expose those who claim to know something---or everything---when in fact they know nothing as well.

Socrates himself, ironically, refers to the Delphic Oracle concerning his own wisdom. A friend of Socrates' went to Delphi and asked the Pythian prophetess if there were any person wiser than Socrates. The prophetess declares that there "was no man wiser" (69).

Socrates brings the Oracle up in order not to flaunt his wisdom but to refute the charges against him, to show, in fact that a correct interpretation of the Oracle will reveal that Socrates is special not for what he knows but because he seems to ...

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Socrates Defense in the Apology. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:13, December 07, 2021, from