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Socrates arrogant

September 13, 2010

Socrates is a very stubborn man. I understand that he felt obligated to stand by his beliefs, but as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Having life, in my opinion, is much more valuable than dying in vein. Socrates knew he wasn’t going to get a verdict of not guilty without begging for mercy, so he should have just given the crowd what they wanted to see. It’s not a “disgrace,” or any other words Socrates used to describe what it would have been if he pleaded for mercy, if the matter is life and death, which it obviously was. He should have just lived to see another day. He did all he could to help teach the people of Athens, and if they chose to ignore his wisdom, so be it. As long as he tried his hardest there is no shame. Instead of dying and not being able to practice philosophy at all, it would have been wiser for Socrates to succumb to his prosecutors so he could spend his last few years of life learning for himself. I don’t see how it could possibly be a better idea to never study philosophy again when the chance to study, even if it’s only by yourself, is possible. Maybe because of his old age Socrates thought a few extra years of studying in seclusion wasn’t worth giving up his beliefs. As I see it however, it seems sort of arrogant to rather go out with a bang than to give up on a chance to do what you preach (examine your life in Socrates’ case). I still respect everything Socrates did and I appreciate that he stood up for what he believed in, but I think he made too big of a deal out of the options of either preaching his philosophy or dying. A great majority would have to agree that life in this case would clearly outweigh the ability to preach one’s wisdom.

5 Comments
  1. pacherry permalink
    September 13, 2010 11:01 PM

    “You are wrong sir, if you think that a man who is any good at all should take into account the risk of life or death; he 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.” –Socrates

    Socrates does not dictate for us what is good or bad. That journey is for each person to go on for themselves. However, once a person is able to define what is right and wrong, good or bad, truth or lie for themselves then it is their duty, in order to live the good life, to pursue what they have found to be right with everything in their being. It is my opinion that if a person was able to ask Martin Luther King Jr. at 6:02 April 4, 1968 if he would have changed anything he did in order to live to see another day he would have said no. It is conviction like that Socrates speaks of in the Apology and Crito. Some of today’s politicians live with wishy washy agendas and campaign promises that rarely have the chance to be fulfilled and are swayed one way or another based on the latest gallop poll so that they may extend their beloved political career just one more term. What has happened to the convictions displayed by Jefferson and Adams who debated with such intensity over the political foundation of our country? And with all their fighting contempt was not bred, but rather the respect that is formed in the presence of a worthy opponent. Revolutionary soldiers fought so that we would have the right to stand up and shout at the top of our voices that which we want for our nation. We do them ill service by not voicing that which we believe to be true with the fullness of our heart despite the pain or punishment we may suffer. Have we become a nation so afraid of offending others that we are willing to muffle our arguments so that we may not insult another’s opinion? Shame on that person who folds at the first sign of confrontation for not having enough conviction to say “Damn his words, I know what I believe!” It is now time to stand up and be bold for what we believe to be truth and live or die on our own swords rather than cave to what the mindless sheep around us spew. This, and only this, is what Socrates would accept.

  2. Molly Niedbala permalink
    September 13, 2010 11:41 PM

    Socrates was trying to make a point by dying for his cause. It isn’t a matter of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” because he hadn’t yet finished trying to make his point; he hadn’t finished trying to “beat ’em,” if that’s what he was attempting to do at all – but that’s a different matter. His entire argument revolves around the idea that life is not worth living unless one lives according to his or her values. Socrates’ values lie in his ability to question and to keep seeking answers; if, in life, he were no longer allowed to go on in that way, it would not have been worth living to him. That’s why he “decided” to allow his argument to result in his death. He wanted both 1) to continue being a living (or in this case, dying) example to the Athenians of what it means to live honorably (and according to personal values) and 2) to leave behind a life that, to him, would no longer be an honorable (and thus worthwhile) one.

  3. glterryn permalink
    September 14, 2010 2:14 AM

    This is a very interesting point and, for the most part, i agree with you. But when you say Socrates died in vein, i can’t help but disagree.

    Look at our current situation. A class of 200 students at a mainstream public university are reading and studying a transcription of Socrates’ speech. We are doing so some 2000+ years after its deliverance. Yet, the weight of his words still hold firmly as we read and debate his beliefs long after his death. I sincerely believe that if Socrates did not die because of what he believed, we would not care nearly as much as we do now.

    By dying, Socrates brings attention to his argument. He basically states, “my beliefs are worth dying for.” If he were to switch his plea or give into a sense of “Ancient Greek Peer Pressure”, he would send the message that his argument isn’t worth his life.

    If a belief isn’t even worth the life of its creator, it certainly isn’t worth changing the way an entire society views justice, wisdom, and “the good life”.

  4. Neil Rabinowicz permalink
    September 14, 2010 10:56 PM

    While I agree with you that it sounds as if Socrates’ was arrogant, I think this is actually far from the truth. To me it seems as if Socrates’ has reached such as level of understanding of the world that he is accepts death as his punishment. He says that he doesn’t talk about, fear, or praises anything that he is not familiar with, thus making him indifferent towards death, something he obviously hasn’t experienced yet.

    On another note, if Socrates wanted to be arrogant, he would have probably done everything in his power to get out of the sentence, especially utilizing his notorious oratory skills. However, he did the contrary: he spoke like he did in the market, didn’t bring his children to court, nor did he cry or beg to be forgiven.

    The way Socrates died and the way he accepted his punishment set an example for many. If he would have done everything possible to be acquitted, it would have demonstrated how fragile the law was. In order to show that he respects the law, he accepts the fate he is given and even decides not to escape when given the opportunity, which in my opinion could also serve as an attempt for him to show that he did not in fact corrupt the young and set a good example for them.

    • afadl10 permalink
      September 16, 2010 1:11 AM

      I completely agree with you Neil. By reading the apology and the Crito, I came across the same conclusion. I honestly believe that Socrates has reached the point where he no longer cares for anyone’s opinion or judgement, he just wants to die. He believes he has lived ” the good life”, and he is willing to die now. By accepting this fact, he proves to the majority that the punishment they have elicited on him doesn’t affect him in any way because he considers it to be a “blessing”.

      I also agree that he is respecting the law by accepting his fate. If Socrates really wanted he could have escaped, but he chose to follow the law, and die a man that has been just his whole life. Though there were certain individuals who disliked him and believed he corrupted the young, in socrates mind he has not done unjust and with this mindset he can die happily.

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