Thursday, 7 March 2013

Musing about Socrates: The Trial

It has been a while, and I think Jack Palance has haunted the blog long enough...I wrote this bit a while ago when thinking about Socrates. Not profound, but interesting; written just for fun.

          Socrates, a man versed and devoted to Philosophy, studied moral science by openly discussing and searching for the truth in concepts with his friends. In one of the Socratic dialogues (The Apology), he was accused by a young man, Meletus, for not believing and following the Greek gods and therefore corrupting the youth of Athens. When brought to trial, he told them he was not defending himself, but rather the people, so they would not miss his blessing, knowledge.  He cared for the peoples’ souls, spoke the truth, and even repeatedly apologized to the jury, telling them that if he did pervert any of the youth, it was strictly unintentional, and though he was sentenced to death, he kept to his convictions. Do you have a clear claim here yet, or is that coming later?

          After Socrates gave his defense, the jury gave their verdict. Agreeing that he was guilty, Meletus, the prosecutor, asked for the penalty of death. Socrates then told Meletus, the jury, and others standing by that if they were thinking about setting him free on condition of not practicing philosophy, he would say no because he would be disobeying the “will of the god” who sent him to Athens for the good of the people. The jury voted again and sentenced Socrates to death.

          These votes were unjust, as Socrates was searching for the truth. The jury sentenced a man to death simply because he was inquiring, discussing, and speaking to others with the purpose of finding truth. Socrates spoke the truth to the jury when on trial, telling them he was “… the same man in private as in public life.” They probably were annoyed with him (which he states as a possibility of the people accusing him), but is that a just reason to punish, or even put a man to death? He was searching for truth by analyzing concepts critically, and when has examining concepts ever been considered as annoying?  His whole case should have been examined more thoroughly, but because the people were lazy, they did not wish to take his case into greater consideration.  His point was to encourage others to examine elements critically, and because they missed that point, Socrates was sentenced to death because of a lazy jury.

         Socrates cared for the people, and more importantly,their souls. He told the people to care for, nourish and sustain them. In his search for the best state of the soul, Socrates arrived at a conclusion that there was one, and only one ultimate deity, whom he claimed to have sent him to Athens for the benefit and blessing of the people. Instead of just being concerned with his trial and wanting to defend himself, Socrates passionately expressed his concern for the people, stating his want for their souls to be cared for.

         In order to soothe any harsh expressions that had happened during the trial, Socrates apologized to the court, jury, and bystanders. He wanted them to deeply understand that he never would corrupt the youth. Even if he had, he told the people that it would have been unintentional. He would never have purposely perverted the morals of any one.  The fact that Socrates did not believe in the gods made him susceptible to the criticism of the tight cultural rules, and thus suspected of teaching contrary to what the majority believed, therefore “debasing” the minds of the youth.

          Despite his efforts in the search for truth, Socrates was sentenced to death by poison.  Concerning the youth, however, why would he corrupt the same people that he wanted the best for? Were they not already corrupt from sin? And how can truth corrupt youth? Socrates was concerned about them, but they were lazy and annoyed. He hurt their pride but also convicted them with the same conviction he had; that he was sent there, to bless them.  Though sentenced to death, Socrates never strayed from his convictions.  He was on a mission to enlighten others, others who were growing up to be lazy politicians and leaders interested in pleasure.  He never corrupted the youth; if he did, it was unintentional.  The jury thought Socrates a lonely, annoying man wasting and passing time by talking, which the jury thought was deserved death when all he aimed for was the exposition of truth.

Thanks for reading!


  1. You should read the "Phaedo" Plato on the death of Socrates. I am enjoying it a lot more than the "Apology".

  2. I did read it a while ago; Socrates was philosophic until the moment he died...