Socrates: Greek Philosopher

Taking Care of One’s Soul According to Socrates

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Do you agree with Socrates that taking care of one’s soul is more important than acquiring wealth or taking care of our bodies? Why or why not?

While awaiting the Athenian court’s sentence to either life or death, Socrates toys with the notion of avoiding death if he promises to stop practicing philosophy. Of course, he claims to choose death over that life. This argument is one that I agree with, because I believe that the quality of one’s soul surpasses importance of wealth or one’s body.

Socrates claims, “It is not weath…that produces goodness; rather, it is from goodness that wealth, and all other benefits for human beings, accrue to them in their private and public life.” I think that if one is spiritually and mentally sound, earthy possessions and the quality of physical life will not be of importance. Some of the most content humans are those with the fewest material possessions, living in squalor. Conversely, greed, deceit, and scandal runs rampant among the wealthiest people. One that places value on money or success above all is never satisfied because their goal is not quantifiable, and can continue on forever. This is not to say that money is the root of corruption and evil, though this is a common belief. Rather, that contentment is a mental state, not a physical body to be gained through acquisition of an outside influence. I believe that one must achieve personal contentment through intrinsic peace.

The practice of meditation follows the belief that humans have attachments that provide them with pleasure and pain, such as money, friends, and family. We continue to pursue the pleasures that come with the pain in search of final contentment that will never come alone. However, meditation teaches one to not react to the ups and downs and avoid these attachments. The only true way to avoid the pain is to also sacrifice the pleasure. Although an extreme example, this belief aligns with Socrates’ mentality that the only important condition in life is that of the soul. I believe in the benefits of meditation, and thus I support the idea that taking care of the soul is most important task of a human.

There are two options in the afterlife, either nothing exists, or there is some sort of host for our soul. Either way, the body and soul separate. If we do cease to exist with no afterlife, no worldly matters are of importance. One might as well focus on the soul, because of the two outcomes after death, the soul is the only thing that has the possibility of living on. Either way, one day the sun will explode and all life as we know it will be destroyed. While a pessimist viewpoint, this idea begs the question: with no body to host it, can thought still exist? In this hypothetical world, there is either nothing-ness, or an alternate reality where only our souls exist. I believe that Socrates’ idea that only the well being of the soul matters is a philosophy that focuses on the longest term of reality, as we know it.

Turning to a more tangible, smaller-scale focus, the quest for wealth and physical health is an elusive goal with no true endpoint. Of course there are levels within these goals that one can strive for, but these are external journeys that one can chase forever. On the other hand, the quality of the soul is an intrinsic focus that one can attain by purely their own means. It does not require an outside source or “thing” to be gained. Thus, one could forever chase happiness through wealth and bodily health without ever feeling content.

The search for alignment of one’s soul over the acquisition of wealth is a phenomenon pursued by many today. Of course, this is a rarity, as I would claim a majority of people do not think this way, or think this and do not act accordingly. Nonetheless, it is a common idea that people do attempt to incorporate in their lives. The idea that the alignment of one’s soul is more important than bettering one’s body is one that is less common. Many see the two as intertwined, and improving the body does better the mind as well. However, according to dualism, these two are distinct, and should be treated as such. Many do not realize the separation, and focus only on the body in order to improve the mind, rather than focusing equally on both. For example, someone recovering from an eating disorder would be much more likely to recover through physical change, like eating balanced meals, combined with therapy for their mental state.

The famous photo of the self-burning of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk coveys just how powerful the mind, and perception is. According to Descartes, it is the only reality that we can fully trust. I believe that Socrates was correct in claiming that taking care of one’s soul presides over acquiring wealth or taking care of our bodies.

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Main Ideas in the Republic of Plato

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Socrates was put on trial for the corrupting the youth and impiety. He stands before the large jury of Athens and delivers his apology, challenging these charges. Socrates comes up with clever answers for the questions he is asked and suggests that he be the model of justice for the city. Plato makes certain arguments and actions in The Republic of Plato which sparks a response in his arguments and actions in the Apology of Socrates. These argument and actions made from the two texts clarify the evidence for these charges, however, they do also provide evidence against these charges.

In The Republic of Plato, Socrates shows interest in discussing justice with Glaucon, who is the next heir to the throne and wants to rule justly. He states, “no one willingly chooses to rule and get mixed up in straightening out other people’s troubles; but he asks for wages, because the man who is to do anything fine by art but never does what is best for himself, but rather what is best for the man who is ruled.” (Bloom 24). Socrates explains to Glaucon that this ruler will rule to protect the citizens of his kingdom, but will do so if he gets compensated at the end. Socrates tells them that the just ruler will not rule in order to gain money or honor. This is one way how Socrates isn’t creating a corruption, as he is attempting to revive the real definition of being a good person. “They say that doing injustice is naturally good, and suffering injustice bad, but that the bad in suffering injustice far exceeds the good in doing it; it seems profitable,” says Glaucon. (Bloom 36-37). Glaucon argues that while it is bad to suffer injustice, those doing so benefit from it because of the harm it causes to others. Socrates listening to this seems intrigued that he’s rigorously identifying two men, based on his claims. When Glaucon makes his arguments, he seems slightly fascinated by what Glaucon and thus, this drives him to advocate the importance of thinking to Glaucon. Adeimantus is more political than Glaucon and always speaks for the people, addressing his arguments as ‘we believe’ or ‘the people believe so’. Socrates observes that Adeimantus has a different mindset on justice. When Adeimantus finishes his argument, Socrates’s first reaction is, “I listened, and although I had always been full of wonder at the nature of Glaucon and Adeimantus, at this time I was particularly delighted and said, ‘That wasn’t a bad beginning.’” (Bloom 44). Observing how much more political Adeimantus is than his brother, Glaucon, he begins to direct his arguments toward the jobs of the different citizens of the city. Adeimantus can be compared to Meletus during Socrates’s trial; when Socrates asks him what makes the men of Athens better people and Meletus doesn’t respond, Socrates says, “Do you see, Meletus, that you are silent and have nothing to say? And yet does it not seem to be shameful to you, and a sufficient proof of just what I say, that you have never cared?”(West 74). Although Socrates does not talk as harshly to Adeimantus as he did with Meletus, Socrates still has to point out the little facts that Adeimantus keeps leaving behind. “Now Adeimantus, reflect on whether our guardians ought to be imitators or not.” (Bloom 74). Socrates is arguing here that these poets practice the art of imitation, which can lead to misconceptions present in their works; these misconceptions corrupt the youth, according to Socrates. The more points Socrates makes for his view on justice, the more often we see Adeimantus resorting to saying, “That’s my opinion too,” “Very true,” “That’s exactly the way it is,” and the like.

During his apology, Socrates mentions the people that accuse him for corrupting their young. “Thereupon, those examined by them are angry at me, not at themselves…And whenever someone asks them, ‘By doing what and teaching what?’ they have nothing to say, but are ignorant.” (West 72). These people that accuse him are the parents of the youth that used to believe Socrates was educating their children. Socrates claims that he is not corrupting the youth, because of the knowledge that they have gained. In The Republic of Plato, he calls out Homeric/traditional Greek poetry for providing these false statements about justice. Using this, he is essentially saying that the ones teaching the youth these false statements about justice are the ones corrupting the youth; this claim easily throws away the corruption charge. Also, Socrates points out how Achilles should not be the model for the Athenians. He brings up the fact that Achilles had to choose between going to war and avenging someone’s death or staying at home, and turns it into his own example. “I stayed and ran the risk of dying like anyone else, but when the god stationed me, as I supposed and assumed, ordering me to live philosophizing and examining myself and others, I had then left my station because I feared death or any other matter whatever.” (West 80). He is saying that at that moment, he would have disobeyed the gods, just like Achilles had done many times before committing to fighting in battle. Socrates is saying that even their role model would’ve avoided the god’s advice, proving how little impact the gods have on the humans. This is another point that the Athenians have against Socrates when it comes to accusing him of impiety.

Socrates also discusses the importance of philosophy in his apology and in his conversations with Adeimantus and Glaucon. He defines the philosopher as, “the one who is willing to taste every kind of learning with gusto, and who approaches learning with delight, and is insatiable.” (Bloom 155). This person would be an open-minded individual who would not mind learning about anything and everything. Socrates’s strong belief for philosophy is another piece of evidence that one may say supports his impiety charge. When Meletus accuses him that Socrates doesn’t believe in the Gods, he refutes him. Meletus confirms that daimons are gods, and Socrates responds with, “Therefore if I do believe in daimons, as you say, and if, on the one hand, daimons are gods of some sort, then this would be what I say you are riddling and jesting about, when you say that I do not believe in gods, and again that I believe in gods, since in fact I do believe in daimons.” (West 77-78). Technically, Socrates does believe in gods, which would throw the impiety charge away. The problem with completely disregarding this charge is the fact that Socrates does not ever state that he believes in the Athenian Gods. Back with his conversation with Glaucon, Glaucon wants to know which philosophers are the ‘true philosophers.’ Socrates explains that there is a difference between the one with knowledge and the one who lets his opinions take over. “Since knowledge depended on what is and ignorance necessarily on what is not, mustn’t we also seek something between ignorance and knowledge that depends on that which is in between, if there is in fact any such thing?” (Bloom 157). Philosophers do not merely let their opinions control their thoughts; they are open to new ideas and are willing to learn more about what they do not already know. Socrates mentions in his apology that had he gone into politics, he would not have gone very far with it. This contradicts with what he tells Adeimantus in The Republic of Plato, “Philosophers must be established as the most precise guardians.” (Bloom 183). Socrates wants philosophers to take over as the guardians, but has stated in his apology and also in The Republic that philosophers would be useless and unhelpful in politics. Perhaps this is a ironic move on his part, letting the citizens know how corrupt politics is and how important it is that everyone learns to think for themselves. Still, the evidence shown here is not sufficient enough to completely let go of the impiety charge, as Socrates does still believe in gods but they are not exactly the Athenian gods.

With Glaucon, Socrates uses the Cave analogy to explain the bigger picture of philosophy. “You must go down, each in his turn, into the common dwelling of the others and get habituated along with them to seeing the dark things…you will see ten thousand times better than the men there…you have seen the truth about fair, just, and good things.” (Bloom 199). The ones who have been hit with the truth should go back down to the cave and advise each person about it. He discusses how the guardian should be a lover for fighting and for wisdom as well. He uses geometry as an example, showing how useful it is in reality. Glaucon agrees that this wisdom is necessary and seems to still be speaking as the one who wishes to lead, according to Socrates. “You are amusing. You are like a man who is afraid of the many in your not wanting to seem to command useless studies.” (Bloom 207). Socrates still sees that Glaucon has a slight dread in wanting to take command of these so-called small tasks. Glaucon is so convinced with Socrates’s argument for philosophy, he begins to believe less and less in the gods. “‘Yes, by the gods and how ridiculous they are.” (Bloom 210). Socrates supports this by further detailing, “Surely we have from childhood convictions about what’s just and fair by which we are brought up as by parents, obeying them as rulers and honoring them…They do not persuade men who are at all sensible; these men rather honor the ancestral things and obey them as rulers.

The arguments and actions made from The Republic of Plato do spark some responses in the arguments and actions in the Apology of Socrates. According to the evidence weighed from Socrates’s trial and from what Socrates has told to Glaucon and Adeimantus, these arguments and actions do not completely lighten him of the charges. They do, however, aim towards being in favor of Socrates, as his arguments and examples prove stronger than the impiety and corruption charges brought against him.

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The Real Face of Socrates

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

To get started with answering question one, yes I do believe Socrates is an admirable character, however I do not think he is worthy of being an influencer due to many factors that I will talk about are inspiration and pleasure vs happiness which I will go in depth later on. To answer question two, I will bring up the topic of perspective and why Socrates did not change my stance on what he talks about within Plato’s discussions.

Socrates as he is depicted by Plato seems to be very honest, naïve, and admirable. My reasoning for this is due to his argumentative skills and wisdom. He was shown to be very honest when he conversed among the people of Athens, showing off his argumentative skills to reason with peoples’ opinions with philosophy. Given his age, Socrates had a lot of knowledge of the everyday workings of society, nevertheless he accepted that he knew only so much compared to the next Athenian, whether they were a politician or poet. “This man among you, mortals, is wisest who like Socrates, understands his wisdom is worthless.”, “he makes the worse into a stronger argument,” Following this, to say he is admirable and inspirational is a different idea entirely. According to the Oxford dictionary the word Admirable means “Arousing or deserving respect and approval”, following this definition of the word admirable, I believe that Socrates is most definitely an admirable character, however to say he can be an inspiration is much different scenario.

Today, there are people who inspire and motivate others due to their character traits and success, but to call them or Socrates inspirational is not true, and I am going to explain why. First off, is the different between inspiration and motivation, something that inspires someone wont necessarily mean that they will be motivated, this idea can also be related to pleasure and happiness, where pleasure is like inspiration creating short-term satisfaction, whereas happiness is like motivation as it creates long-term satisfaction which would contribute to success. To be clear inspiration is only an idea, whereas motivation is a goal. Being philosophical requires interpersonal skills which Socrates has, other traits such as wisdom and integrity which are also needed to a philosopher given his age and experience, but to say someone is inspirational when they are poor, and unsuccessful can result in mental health issues such as doing everything for god. To this I say not only do we not know the “real” Socrates, only Plato’s depiction of him, but it could very well be that he does not fear death because he is in some state of a mental health issue; and given the fact that everyone believed in god in Athens and more generally Ancient Greece, he could use that easily saying he believes in gods and his journey is to please them in order to bring his soul to a much better place after dying.

Everyone’s beliefs are different, to ask if someone is inspirational to everyone, or could be an inspiration to everyone is most certainly a philosophical question, due to its generality. I do know that someone will argue the opposite and that Socrates is inspirational and influential, but this all comes down to personality, beliefs, and experience which all affect someone’s perspective. An example of this is reading, people may be pleasured from reading Plato’s Apology, but it wont lead to the success of themselves, not without hard work and dedication. Even the time gap between 300BC and today, reading books will not bring you success, success will result from the hard work you put in which will create happiness.

To be honest, a lot of the arguments Socrates made didn’t really change the way I thought about a particular subject. My reasoning for this is the topics he talks about such as going to court, pious or impious, philosophy in general, religion, gods, or even politics I either don’t believe in or don’t care much about to have an opinion I care about. Its because of this that Socrates as great as he might be didn’t have much of an effect on me.To conclude my critical assessment of Socrates, I do not think Socrates is an inspirational character because of the definition of inspiration and what it means to be inspired as it goes against Socrates and how he wants peace and happiness for the soul, following this is Socrates’ perspective, experience and the beliefs he encompassed within himself before dying for god.

Bibliography:

  1. Plato. (2000). The Trial and Death of Socrates (Vol. 1). Stephanus: 26-b, 23-c: HACKETT publishing company.
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The Irony in the Philosophical Ideologies of Socrates

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Socrates’ comparison of himself to the heroic Achilles is at first unusual and seemingly inappropriate. After all, he was an old man of seventy who was just about to be condemned to death, whereas Achilles was a glorious, strong youth whose courage and skill in battle was unparalleled. Achilles is often referred to as superior in being and served as the model warrior in the army. Thus, unlike Achilles, Socrates’ heroic attributes are not focused around his physical characteristics, but rather his philosophical ideologies – centered on his revolutionary ideas about religion, human nature, and the afterlife. His heroism was not awarded because of his physical achievements, but rather his introduction of novel ideas and freethinking questions, along with his esteemed loyalty to the community.

Through his trial, apology and death, Socrates displays that his heroism and his commitment to his society are genuine and paramount priorities for him. Achilles’ actions similarly revolve around his pursuit for glory and for his notion of loyalty to the society in which he participates in. He is forewarned by his mother that if he kills Hector his “fate will stand ready” and his immediate death will be inevitable. When he realizes this, he made little out of death and danger, and instead harbored a much greater fear that he would live the remainder of his life as a coward. Like Achilles, Socrates also strives for honor and the respect of his community. But as his duty as a philosopher, he brought forth many foreign thoughts that were hard to accept by the majority of citizens. Despite this, even when he was sentenced to death, Socrates did not abandon Athens.

He refuses to flee his home for many years and continued to show his unrelenting commitment by remaining in the city that had condemned him to death.Both Socrates and Achilles are grounded in their desires to do what they believe is correct and their readiness to die over this honor. Achilles is more devoted to a personal honor between him and the gods than in the morals that mortal men believe in. Socrates similarly declares, “Gentlemen, I am your very grateful and devoted servant, but I owe a greater obedience to God than to you;” he reasserts why needs to practice his philosophy even though he knows it may lead to his death.

Achilles and Socrates value their own idea of honor and duty to the gods over the Athenians’ ideals. It is this passionate view of individual morality that leads to both of their eventual deaths. However, despite these apparent similarities, there are underlying ulterior messages in Socrates’ comparison. Right after mentioning Achilles, Socrates notes his distinguished military service; Socrates knows that he is no Achilles, but he emphasizes his distinction in one significant way – he never deserts his post. The battles in which Socrates fought are in no way comparable to the Trojan War – they were either defeats or inconclusive – and yet, Socrates’ most notable asset as a soldier was showcased more in his performance during retreats than for his offensive aptitude against the enemy. He epitomizes the non-Achillean, essential quality of obedience – not just in the literal Greek army as a soldier, but also in a democratic army as a citizen.

The initial ludicrousness of the comparison Socrates raises begins to take on an opposite tone, away from the similarity that Socrates is assumed to draw but towards the subtler distinction between them. Achilles’ brash and cruel method of warfare is a stark comparison to Socrates’ pensive dignity. Socrates embarks on the delicate process of reevaluating the conventional reverence of Achilles. The question that Socrates poses about Achilles – “Surely you do not suppose that he thought about death and danger?” – is revealed to be ironic in light of the entire portrait of Achilles, particularly given his additional curse against death as portrayed in the Odyssey. Like Achilles, Socrates acknowledges his fate willingly even though it means death.

The interpretative conundrum arises when Socrates allusively compares himself with Achilles, to Achille’s disadvantage. Socrates begins a rebuke to the warlike virtue that has been amalgamated around Achilles. When Socrates implicitly reintroduces the analogy between himself and Achilles in the Apology, he invokes the Achilles of the Odyssey, when Achilles declares that “I would rather be tied to the soil as a serf…than be king of all these dead and destroyed.” Achilles abandons his heroic stance and has decided that living by that heroic code is not enough if death is the consequence. Then, through this comparison, Socrates highlights that it is he who drops the Achillean stance and divulges that the answer to the rhetorical question “Surely you do not suppose that he thought about death and danger?” is “yes,” in actuality.

Refusing to endorse Achille’s lamentation in Hades, Socrates vehemently professes an incontrovertible preference for death over slavery to the demands of the polis; Achilles as an example of how to live the philosophic life is rejected.Achilles has many achievements and downfalls, and is very inconsistent in his heroism. He is animalistic and brutal when he mutilates Hector’s body, but is compassionate when he returns the body to Priam. Juxtaposed to Achilles’ irregularities, Socrates portrays an unceasing representation of heroic ideals. He does not change the ideals for which he stands for, and always remains faithful and supportive to Athens, even until the end.

Although the principles that Socrates upheld were in great opposition to the ideals of society, he consistently preached his philosophical views to satisfy his obligation to Athens, and to the gods. In these comparisons, a form of Socratic irony is revealed. Socrates knows that the jury would find it perverse that he, a meddlesome and maddening questioner, would reflect the legendary hero of Achilles. The irony then becomes apparent in the fact that, in many ways, Socrates is arguing that he is even more beneficial to society than Achilles himself.

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Oedipus’ and Socrates’ Road to Truth

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

The pursuit of truth is like a maze, embedded in a maze and then embedded in another. Only once one solves the primary outer layer is one able to move onto the secondary one and so on towards the center. Each man on the search has a path unique to himself, making wrong turns and retracing steps.

Oedipus and Socrates are two characters on the journey, going their own way to try and find the truth they seek. Oedipus begins his searches for the murderer of Laius on a path of determination, unwavering in his pursuit, commanding the people to “tell everything” or be driven from Thebes. His resolve is the willpower of a king, as a protector of his people, there is no personal connection to the truth other than that it will save his city. When Tiresias claims to tell the truth while Oedipus was ignorant of it, the pursuit become more intensive and personally motivated. In this stage, Oedipus’ arrogance is driving his search, for lack of knowledge of the truth is a flaw to Oedipus, a sign of “cowardice and stupidity”. When he finally comprehends his own role in his hunt, the dynamics change once again and his determination to find truth is guided by necessity to disprove it. Oedipus’s relationship with truth and his desire to find it alters as its pertinence varies. When he is personally unconnected to the quest for truth, Oedipus is firm in his will to uncover it. However, when the relationship changes nature, so does Oedipus’ reactions, abruptly changing from determination to reveal the truth to determination to refute it.

Oedipus’ road to truth is in constant evolution, from external determination as a king, to internal determination as man with fear. Socrates is the reverse, in a constant path of calmness in contrast to Oedipus’ franticness. For Socrates, the search for truth is always about necessity because it is crucial to who he is as a philosopher. Socrates’ whole life is based on his search for wisdom and the beauty of the search for increased wisdom. The process is the beautiful part of truth, the exciting and engaging aspect. While arrogance drives Oedipus, gratification of exploration pushes Socrates. He craves truth and feels that it is needed, is driven by the unknown, and loves what he lacks in knowledge. Socrates believes he knows nothing and therefore has nothing to lose in his hunt and pursuit of the truth.

On the contrary, Oedipus is frustrated by what he lacks and angered when he feels as if he is not the most knowledgeable. He believes that he should know everything and therefore suffers when he does not. Socrates sees truth as essential to his character while for Oedipus it is a threat. Because Oedipus has trouble confronting his ignorance, he tends to search for different kinds of truths in a diverse number of ways. When he believes the truth does not concern himself, Oedipus is calm, collected and in control, following methodical procedures to find truth. In the beginning of his mission to solve the plague, Oedipus does the rational thing and sends Creon to the Delphi oracles to discover the causes of this curse. Then, in an equally logical manner, summons Tiresias, the prophet who will supply him with the truth. However once the search becomes personal and Oedipus realizes he is at its center, he shuns logic and instead obtains a new twist of logic to avoid the truth. First he denies Tiresias’ answer that he himself is the curse by claiming that Creon paid off Tiresias to tell him such “calumnies”. Then he shuns the incriminating evidence that he killed Laius at the crossroads because the oral story is that a group of bandits killed Laius, not a lone man. Oedipus does not comprehend the possibility that the story could be mistaken and it was indeed a single man, himself. He rejects the truth once more as the man he thought was his father dies, and Oedipus, who “never laid a hand on spear against him” is temporarily absolved.

Even in the past, Oedipus has had tendencies to use logic as a way of self-preservation from harmful truths; for when he goes to the oracle at Delphi, even though he knows he was unhonored in what he went to learn, he didn’t persist because it saved him the more painful truth of knowing that his parents were not his biological parents. In the present, he searches for other theories to what is being presented, like the theory that Creon has bribed Tiresias to tell him he is Thebes’ curse. Oedipus then recognizes his flaws and abandons it for one he believes to be stronger, that a group of robbers killed Laius. Oedipus reveals a personal procedure where he calls for the truth, even against the warning of others wiser than him like Jocasta, only to then rebut it by crafting other possible solutions. Oedipus receives the truth almost immediately from Tiresias, but then moves further and further away from it through his perverse logic. These other solutions act as detours in Oedipus’ path to truth, slowing down his journey.

Socrates is the opposite, using a wide range of solutions to push him closer to the truth. Through his use of questioning, Socrates is able to eliminate hypotheses surrounding the subject matter until he finally gets directed to the correct path. His method is similar to the earlier style adopted by Oedipus: logical, rational, and controlled. Socrates is not hasty in his journey to discover the truth, instead taking time and being patient to analyze all concepts and then tear them down through contradictions. Socrates journey for truth has a set method of eliminating other possibilities as a way to set him on the correct true path. Oedipus’ path becomes similar to that of Socrates when he finally overcomes his aversion to notions that do not please him and he finally accepts the worst of possibilities. For Oedipus, the proof is the fact that there are no more other possibilities; he has eliminated the other potentials and now he must finally face what he has been avoiding. For Oedipus it is only accepted once proven undeniable. For a moment, Oedipus takes upon himself the role of a god, a role the Chorus has been both reluctant and eager to allow him to do. Oedipus is so competent in the affairs of men that he comes close to dismissing the gods, although he does not actually blaspheme. At this early moment, we see Oedipus’s dangerous pride, (which explains his willful blindness and, to a certain extent, justifies his downfall). Oedipus sizes up a situation, makes a judgment, and acts, all in an instant. While this confident expedience was laudable in the first section, it is exaggerated to a point of near absurdity in the second. His story shows the inability of humans to escape their fate no matter how hard they try, which ultimately shows the audience that the truth is inevitable. Oedipus learned that he was not above the oracles and that he was susceptible to death, failure and weakness. The duration of the play is focused on Oedipus ignoring the truth based on physical aspects like the death of his non-biological father and the physical bribery of Tiresias. When he finally does receive the power of the truth, he decides to blind himself, removing the tangible distractions that beleaguered him and therefore allowing him to rely on the higher truth as opposed to earthy ones. The ending of the play reverses the dynamic of proof. Senses are concrete to Oedipus prior to his self-blinding. He believes that once man is able to surpass the limitations of physical needs is he able to reach the levels where he acquires true wisdom.

While physical diversions plague Oedipus initially, for Socrates they have never been a barrier, rather a stepping-stone towards the truth. His dialectic method ensures that once he can no longer eradicate a theory, the result is the end and therefore correct. The verification is one of analytical nature, for if it makes sense and cannot be further refuted, then it must be the final stage and truthful in context. This totally contrasts Oedipus, who needs the physical confirmation or disconfirmation in order to accept a truth and once accepted, it is unchangeable. Primarily Oedipus and Socrates seem to differ entirely in their pursuit and reaction to truth. Nonetheless, it seems while Socrates is set in this methods and connection to truth, Oedipus the King is a story about a man’s changing this relationship with truth. Initially his path is the same as that of any humans: fanatical and emotion filled. But as he progresses his path becomes more stable and God like, concerning higher truths and avoiding physical distractions. Oedipus starts as the opposite of Socrates but at the end, Oedipus seems more similar to Socrates, both strategically and mentally. He alters, blinding himself while freeing himself conceptually and recognizing that his previous methods where flawed. Socrates is the goal and Oedipus is on his way to reaching it.

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Analysis of Socrates’ Definition of Justice

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Justice is the proper human life. One of the reoccurring topics discussed between philosophers throughout history was the topic of justice. Many philosophers have had their fair share of debates and definitions for the justice, and today I will be explaining Socrates’ definition of justice.

Socrates believed that a just life is a happy life, with many pleasures, because it is good for one’s soul and offers the best human life. Happiness does not come from materialistic/external needs, such as money or power, but from living a life that is good for your soul and human life.

In Book IX of Plato’s Republic Socrates proves that man ought to practice justice by showing us how an unjust, tyrannical, life has a negative effect on our soul and life, how to understand what pleasure and happiness is by being someone who pursues wisdom, and how just actions (with moderation) make the human soul happier and better. Socrates starts by breaking down the five character/city types and their level of happiness: the philosopher-king being the happiest, while the tyrant is the unhappiest. The philosopher-king is the rational part of a man as he is able to make the decisions that are best for oneself, while the tyrannical part only seeks to satisfy its own desires, at the cost of anything, making him unjust. Although these are polar opposites of one another, both of these character types can still be found in the same man. “Those that are awakened in sleep, when the rest of the soul – the rational, gentle, and ruling part – slumbers”, this speaks of the desire for pleasure that powers the tyrant within us. Because the rational part is sleeping, the tyrannical part has the chance to roam free, creating a nightmare, but one only becomes a tyrannical man when these desires emerge during the hours of being awake.

A tyrant’s desire is only materialistic/external and does nothing good for the soul. It serves no purpose, other than to satisfy the “erotic desire” and cause the tyrant to result to “deceitful means” and “force” in order to satisfy his needs because they are the most important thing in his eyes, even more important than family and friends. He sacrifices what is good in order to achieve his twisted version of happiness and pleasure. Even if the tyrant were to have friends, they would simply be a means to an end, making them expendable. These unjust actions are what make the Tyrant the most “wretched”. But no matter what he does to satisfy his desires, they are insatiable and only end up enslaving his soul. He becomes a slave to himself and is never free. He is trapped in a world full of “fear and erotic loves of all kinds” and has nothing but his twisted desire for pleasure to keep him company. In order to understand and know what pleasure really is, one must focus more on the learning-loving part of the soul, also known as the philosophical part of the soul.

Compared to the other parts, the honor-loving part and profit-loving part, the learning-loving part has the most experience when it comes to knowing what true pleasure is. What makes the philosopher more experienced than the others is that he has “has tasted the other pleasures since childhood…”, while the other parts of the soul have only experienced their own respective sense of pleasure, giving him the position of being the wisest and making the most rational decision that would benefit the soul.

The philosopher uses “experience, reason, and argument” as his means. Because he is able to use experience, reason, and argument, he can pursue any pleasure in life because he will use his rationality to make sure that everything is under control and that he is not straying off into a path that could lead to unhappiness; thus, giving him the ability to have the most pleasant life and soul.

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Trial and Execution of Socrates. Contemporary Sources

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

“The Athens of Socrates’ time has gone down in history as the very place where democracy and freedom of speech were born. Yet that city put Socrates, its most famous philosopher, to death”. As Socrates was sentenced to his death, he was unaware of the vigorous debate his trial and execution would generate within the ivory towers of historians, two thousand years later. His execution has been interpreted in several ways, with books, journals and plays written about the cause célèbre, by both historians and academics. Many have agreed that his hubris and arrogance was a fatal character flaw, whereas others believe that his elitist and confrontational attacks on Athenian democracy lead the Athenian aristocracy to feel threatened. Socrates’ view on religion differed from the traditional view of the Greek pantheon, which led him to be labelled an ‘atheist’. However, many historians and academics have challenged this idea. Through radicalising the Athenian youth, coupled with the convictions of his beliefs, and his harsh interrogation of Athenian democracy, did Socrates inadvertently seal his own fate?

Socrates, the man who created how philosophy was to be perceived over two thousand years later, is undoubtedly still an enigma, having not written any of his own work. Through the guidance of his inner daimonion , Socrates had condemned the powers and authority of the gods – which, in the polytheistic world of ancient Greece, was a grave offence. The trial and execution of Socrates occurred in 399 BCE in Athens, Greece. He was charged on two accounts, with ‘corrupting the youth’ and impiety. Such impious acts were, ‘introducing new deities’ and ‘failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges’. The Athenian legal system gave the defendant the jurisdiction to propose his own penalty. Instead of graciously accepting the offer, Socrates jokingly suggested that he be rewarded for his actions, rather than punished, “far from punishing me, they should be so grateful for the way I have helped them cleanse their souls, they should give me free meals for the rest of my life” . The jurors sentenced him to death by hemlock. When given the opportunity to escape, Socrates claimed “he owed it to the city under whose laws he had been raised to honour” , and refused to leave. Being a man of principle, Socrates refused mercy, and died “a martyr to philosophy” .

There are only two known contemporary sources of Socrates’ trial – the first by Plato, and the second by Xenophon – both of whom were students of Socrates. Plato, known as one of the greatest and most prolific ancient Greek philosophers, had acted as Socrates’ literary mouthpiece. He had written many Socratic dialogues, such as, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo. Plato’s accounts of Socrates’ trial and execution have been given extra attention by historians and scholars, as he had attended the one-day trial in Athens. Plato’s ‘Apology’ is the record of Socrates’ defence speech at his trial in 399 BCE. Within it, Plato depicts Socrates as being innocent, claiming that the reasoning for his ‘impiety’ is because the Oracle and Delphi prophesied him as being the wisest of all men. Plato states that he has no experience before the court, so he will speak in the manner that is most familiar to him, and later goes on to say that it is his duty to question the ‘wise’ men of the state, and to expose their ignorance. Xenophon, the ancient Greek historian, had also written an ‘Apology’, sometime after 399 BCE however, it has been said that his account differs from that of Plato. Although Xenophon did not attend the trial himself, his account was derived from the philosopher, Hermogenes, who had attended the trial. Xenophon and Plato’s Apologies show several stylistic differences in the way they portray Socrates and his defence. Unlike Plato, Xenophon outlines Socrates’ megalēgoria , and how he appeared boastful before the jury, but claims it was a tactic of legal defence against the claims of his impiety. In addition, where Plato claims that Socrates’ willingness to face the death penalty was due to his “unwavering commitment to his divinely appointed mission to keep philosophizing at all costs” , Xenophon notes that he believed “that it is better for him to die now than to face the pains and limitations of advanced old age.”

Moreover, the only surviving contemporary accounts of the trial and execution that led to Socrates’ eventual demise, although showing rhetorical differences, both portray Socrates’ as an innocent man, who was made the subject of political infighting. However, the extent of which Socrates is “hidden behind his best disciples” is undecided.

Plato and Xenophon were not the only ones to support Socrates’ innocence. Sophist, Libanius (c. 354 A.D) wrote about the integrity of Socrates in his texts ‘On the Silence of Socrates’ and ‘The Defence of Socrates’. He too strongly disagreed with the allegations made against Socrates, “… Socrates has been falsely accused and has been pressed with charges which are untrue and most unworthy of his philosophy” . Libanius was a deeply pious man, who remained unconverted during the rise of Christian hegemony in Athens, and his denial of Socrates’ impiety is a significant endorsement of his innocence.

Rex Warner, an English classicist, also attempted to vindicate Socrates in his 1972 book, ‘Men of Athens’. He claimed that the parrhesia that the Ancient Athenians prided themselves on so greatly, could only be exercised within limits, using Socrates as his case study. He begins by stating that Socrates had indeed claimed to hold the belief that no one willingly acts unlawfully, yet it was always better to endure injustice, rather than to act unjustly. However, such beliefs “were found very irritating by all who were not Socrates’ intimate friends”. Warner believes that, per Plato, Socrates knew that the dangers he faced were not the charges held against his honour, but merely a prejudice “based on a lack of knowledge, leading to a total misunderstanding of his real aims” . He says that in hindsight, if the prosecutors could have seen Socrates in his true form, they would have known him as “a man who believed more firmly and devoutly in the gods than any of his citizens… a man whose whole life had been devoted not to the corruption, but to the purification and ennobling of the youth” . Thus, these traditionalist historians have attempted to inculcate Socrates’ innocence within their writings, fostering the idea that Socrates was not accountable for his death.

Despite the evidence given for Socrates’ trial and execution pointing to his innocence, there have been numerous revisionist historians who have justified his prosecutor’s actions. Professor Paul Cartledge, a British ancient historian, challenges the views of the traditionalist historians, as he questions whether Socrates was truly a martyr to philosophy, in his book ‘Ancient Greek Political Thought in Practice’ (2009). Despite the claims of politicians and historians, such as Plato himself, Cartledge believes that the trial and execution of Socrates was not an example of democracy descending into mob rule, “everyone knows the Athenians invented democracy, but it was not democracy as we know it, and we have misread history as a result” . He states that although the allegations made against the ancient philosopher may seem absurd to the contemporary reader, the ancient Athenians genuinely believed they were made to serve the communal good, the polis. According to Cartledge, the charges of impiety were entirely acceptable within a polytheistic democracy, who held deep reverence for their gods, through the questioning of his ‘daimonion’, a word that was supposed to refer to his intuition, but instead was interpreted as his worshipping of a dark force. Cartledge believes that Socrates had purposely outraged the Athenian court, and invited his own death; “There is no denying his bravery and he could even be seen as an intellectual hero. But the idea that Socrates himself was not guilty, but executed by mob rule, is wrong. By removing him, society had in, Athenian’s eyes, been cleansed and reaffirmed”.

British philosopher and academic, Professor Angie Hobbs, shared similar views, in her book ‘Plato and the Hero’ (2000). She affirms that until recently, many have considered the trial and execution as a facade for the democrats’ revenge on Socrates, for his association with the rival oligarchic party, the Thirty Tyrants, as the leader of the group was one of his disciples, Critias. However, whether the accusations were objective, Socrates had provoked many important and influential people; “Athenians were probably right to be a little disturbed by what he was up to, getting the young to think for themselves” .

Furthermore, radical American journalist, I.F. Stone, stated in an 1979 interview with the NY Times that he believed Socrates was in fact guilty, and that Plato purposely left out the evidence against Socrates, as “A lawyer might surmise that he blocked out as much as he could of the specific charges because they were too damaging and too hard to disprove”. Stone surmises that Plato’s ‘Apology’ was “a masterpiece of evasion”, in that it didn’t address any of the evidence against Socrates, yet “represents Socrates as a man above the battle of politics”. The sources presented by Plato and Xenophon are “scanty and one sided”, and try to place Socrates as far away from being guilty as possible, therefore not giving us a true transcript of the trial that took place in 399 BCE. He believes that the charges made against the ancient philosopher were politically motivated and based on a considerable amount of evidence, that both Plato and Xenophon have done well to have hidden. Thus, these revisionist historians believe that Socrates’ disobeying of Athenian law was a pivotal reason for his execution, and that Plato and Xenophon’s adulation for their master overshadowed their ability to present all the evidence against him.

Furthermore, many historians have shed light on the fact that although Socrates was a philosophical mastermind, he had given his prosecutors just reason to put him on trial. German historian, Victor Ehrenberg (1967), wrote about the reason for the differing portrayals of Socrates, “…those who did write about him were not historically minded, and all except one wrote after an interval of seven years. It was their hostility or loyalty to Socrates which prevented them from describing the real man, quite apart from the fact that they wanted to express views of their own…” . He also believes that despite the claims, Socrates wasn’t an atheist, but being a strong polytheistic society, his accusers acted out of genuine fear. The divinity they refer to as his creation, was the inner voice that he calls his ‘daimonion’. John Bury (1978), an Irish empiricist historian , said “There have been no better men than Socrates, and yet his accusers were perfectly right” . Bury believed that as Socrates was the mentor to Critias, the leader of the Thirty Tyrants oligarchs who had slaughtered 5% of Athens’ population during their rule, Socrates was a danger to their democracy and so they removed him. In addition, Arnold Jones, a British classic historian (1957) had noted that Xenophon’s account showed that “the real gravamen of the charge against Socrates was that… Critias had been the ruthless ringleader of the Thirty who had massacred thousands of Athenians a few years before” . Therefore, the benefit of hindsight, and access to a broader range of sources, has allowed these historians to consider the actions of Socrates from the perspective of the Athenians, to see that despite the absurdity of their claims, their fear was justified, which then led to his execution.

The trial and execution of Socrates has also been featured within art and theatre. French painter, Jacques Louis David, depicted the execution in his oil on canvas painting, ‘The Death of Socrates’ (1787) – see Appendix 1. The painting was derived from Plato’s ‘Phaedo’, picturing Socrates surrounded by his subjects during his final moments. The painting contains many historical inaccuracies, in that he removed many of the people that were recorded as being there. He also included Apollodorus, who Socrates had sent away for exhibiting too much grief. Furthermore, David distorted the age of those who were there, in that he depicts Plato as being an old man, when in fact he would have been a young boy at the time. Italian artist, Giambettino Cignaroli, presented Socrates as already deceased in his ‘Death of Socrates’ – see Appendix 2, surrounded by his mourning loved ones, the date of which is unknown. In 2007, Andrew David Irvine, created an adaptation of the trial and execution named ‘Socrates on Trial’. The play tells the story of Socrates’ impiety, and corruption of the youth. It also contains adaptations of Aristophanes’ ‘The Clouds’, and Plato’s ‘Apology’. According to critics, Irvine’s play gives the modern audience an insight into why Socrates was executed, through his portrayal of Socrates as a pompous man, full of hubris, whilst showing him as a dedicated mentor .

The social gadfly, Socrates of Athens, has been portrayed in numerous lights throughout the course of history. However, whether he was accountable for the charges laid against him or not, it cannot be disputed that he was given the chance to escape his execution, but instead chose to die a martyr to philosophy. As Professor Cartledge had said, the charges of impiety were admissible as the foundation of Athenian democracy was based upon the worship of the gods . Although he may have invited his own demise by antagonising and threatening the Athenian way of life, Socrates stood true to his beliefs. He posed a threat to the elite as he encouraged the youth to think for themselves, and his association with Critias, leader of the Thirty Tyrants, had frightened the Athenians. Those who were close to him saw him as a man of bravery, and wrote about him with pure adulation. Socrates will remain an enigma, and his trial and execution will undoubtedly continue to puzzle historians.

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Unexamined Life not Worth Living

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Philosophy in Seven Sentences by Douglas Groothuis is an amazing book that introduced philosophy in just seven sentences. The author has done an incredible work by explaining such an important topic in philosophy just in this small book. From a single sentence and a brief history of the philosopher’s life, he showed us how those philosophers teaching and ideas affected our world and societies today. He took those deep sentences from great philosophers and made them easy to understand by an ordinary person like me, who have not taken any philosophy class before.

At first, when I saw this book, I panic, because I have never taken any philosophy class before as I mentioned above. I always hear my fellow students talking about how tough this subject is. However, as I was reading through it, I have found it a little bit easy. It might be because the author did a good job and try to make as simple as possible, or it required attention to the sentences, and deep focusing on their meaning.

This book might seem easy to me our any ordinary person, but one chapter could be another study for a philosopher. The author took those seven philosophical saying and introduced them to us in a simpler way. From Socrates idea of the unexamined life is not worth living to Kierkegaard warn, “The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world as if it were nothing at all.” Since I have entirely read this book, I cannot leave some of those incredible sentences out of my reflection paper. I will include them here in my introduction and briefly, explain them. Those sentences are important in the philosophical world, they are very deep and one could write a book out of only one sentence. But it not the case here. I’m taking this course as an introductory level, so I will not go deep into it. These philosophical sentences are very important, they make us think deeply about the problem that we struggle with inside of us. We struggle to find meaning to problems that we faced every day in our life. Therefore, those famous statement open doors for us to look at those problems and find solutions for them.

First, I would like to start with Protagoras with his saying, “Man is the measure of all things.” This statement by the ancient Greek philosopher made a lot of controversy among philosophers during his time. It means that the individual human being, rather than a god or an unchanging moral law, is the ultimate source of value. People during his time did not appreciate his theory they began to question him. The second one is Socrates claim which caught my attention, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates said this statement during his trial. He basically urging that living a life where you live under the rules of others without examining what you actually want out of it is not worth living. Socrates statement is very interesting, it made think a lot about myself after reading. I decided to continue writing my reflection paper about it. The third is Aristotle who said that “all men by nature desire to know.” He means that all men were born knowing right and wrong which means that they have a habit by birth called Curiosity, to know what around them. The Forth is by Augustine, “You have made us for yourself, and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in you.” After Augustine wrote his confession he reflected on his life as he became a Christian. He argued that human feel a real guilt, stemming from an awareness of objective morality, and since the only remedy for this guilt is in God’s provision, rest can only be found in him. The fifth saying is by the French philosopher, mathematician, and the scientist Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes was looking for something, which is the mind and the body problem. He came to realized that thinking required a thinker if you think that means you exist. The heart has its reason for which reason knows nothing.” By Pascal, he was pointing to basic beliefs, end first principles on which all other beliefs depend. The last one is by Kierkegaard,” the greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all.” He seems to point out the inner struggle we have in our own self. Those sentences are really deep and they telling us a lot of things that we deal with in our daily life and the one phrase that stood out and agreed with is the statement by Socrates” The unexamined life is not worth living.” I think it is a great statement that one could learn a lot from it.

I have read this chapter twice, and each time I read it I discover new things. This famous statement extremely showing that we should first exanimate our self before exanimate other people, then by doing that we will be able to live a meaningful life and then will be happy. And this reminds me with the statement that Jesus said in Luke 6:42 how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye when you yourself fail to see the plank in your eyes? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother ’eyes.” I strongly agree with Socrates statement. To live a worthy life, one must examine himself first. One should know himself really well before examining others because we do not live for our self only but for others as well.

We have people around us we deal with on daily basis. In order to live in harmony with them, we have to know our self really well so we can live a life that worthy of living. I think this statement is really true. After reading the chapter about it, I started to think about myself. I begin to question my life that I’m living. Is it worthy of living? However, for years people have been struggling to find an answer for the purpose of their life and this phrase opens a lot of people mind about whether their life worthy of living or not. I really love this Socrates method. To live a happy life I should know myself first.

I know that I am living in a world that keeps changing every day. It is very important for me to know myself and the purpose of my life here on earth. I believe if I did not know myself, my life will be worthless. I will be live like an animal following my instinct, my thinking will be limited about myself. This encourages me to know myself and set clear goals to find meaning in my life and be happy and make the people around happy as well. Moreover, sometime when I do things right

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Ignorance is a Bliss: Socrates Opinion on Ignorance in Knowledge

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Wisdom is the knowledge gained by a person through experiences or education. In other words, wisdom is the capability to learn from experiences or asking questions. This essay will present the explanation Socrates gives for the oracle of Delphi’s claimed that he never lies about his knowledge of something he did not know and show why he was the wisest man in Athens.

There are several explanations Socrates gives to this statement. For example, when he heard about this news, he set out to find who the wise man was by interviewing the people of Athens who were most respected for their wisdom such as politicians, teachers, and artists (Plato, p. 2). Nevertheless, Socrates concluded that they all had a fatal weakness, and they all believed that they knew a great deal, but were ignorant of what they did not know (Plato, p. 2). Also, Socrates said that he was as ignorant as any other person, with a minor advantage that he at least knew he was ignorant for example, Socrates has no exception as he too accepted that he did not know anything beautiful and good and in that manner, he was the wisest and smartest of the full population of ignorant people (Plato, p. 2). Further, Socrates concludes that “what I do not know I do not think I know” (Plato, p. 2). Therefore, from the outcomes it was confirmed that Socrates never lies about his knowledge of something he did not know or had no knowledge about.

Another viewpoint, Socrates was the wisest man in Athens because he asks questions after questions, to show what someone literally knew. For example, he engaged in conversation with poet by asking about his poetry passage but poet failed to explain the meaning of the poem (Plato, p. 2), which leads to the result that Socrates was better than poet in terms of explaining the content to others. Furthermore, Socrates wraps up that it is correct and justified to have virtuous ignorance than dishonest ignorance because virtuous ignorance allows the happiness and help us to search the truth without any assurance that we will find the answer (Plato, p. 2). Thus, Socrates had nothing proper knowledge exclude the matter that nobody occupies a proper wisdom, but his wisdom made people of Athens wonder and also, his wisdom has no visible limit which leads to that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens.

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Oedipus and Socrates on the Quest for Self-knowledge

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Both Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Plato’s Apology explore the limits of human wisdom. Socrates spends times trying to understand the nature of wisdom and whether the people who claim to possess it actually do. This investigation stems from the oracle, who proclaimed that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens. Through this quest, Socrates develops a negative reputation, and this is what leads to his eventual death sentence. Oedipus, on the other hand, is revered by the Thebans. In an attempt to save Thebes from the pollution they are facing, he seeks the truth about the darkness that plagues the city. Yet in his pursuit, Oedipus reveals his identity as the killer of the late King Laius and his involvement in the incestuous relationship with his mother. Through questioning and eventual downfall, both Socrates and Oedipus ultimately adhere to their fate, both coming to the conclusion that human knowledge is futile. Socrates accepts this notion, going gracefully to his death, as he is content in the fact that his soul has been well taken care of. Oedipus, however, ends in ruin, as the knowledge he acquires proves detrimental to his existence.

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates speaks in court about his experience with the Oracle of Delphi. Chaerephon, Socrates’ friend, ventures to the oracle to ask if any man was wiser than Socrates, to which the oracle replied that “no one was wiser”. With this in mind, Socrates begins his journey to find someone to hopefully challenge the oracle’s initial declaration. He goes about this using a technique called elenchus, which is an intense questioning. After interrogating the “public man”. Socrates determines that neither he [the public man] nor Socrates himself were wise, since “he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know”. Socrates goes into this encounter believing that those were deemed wise through the lens of society, such as politicians, craftsmen, or poets, will surely be able to prove the oracle wrong. By refuting the notion that these men are enlightened, Socrates displays his understanding of the limitations of human wisdom and seems to be countering the oracle. However, in another sense, Socrates is proving the oracle to be correct. While everyone around him is falsely assuming their own knowledge as being something of higher power, Socrates seems to be the only one who was mindful of the ignorance that all humans possess. Despite the fact that he concludes that he knows nothing, he is not denying the possession of the wisdom, instead he is denying value. “Finally I went to the craftsmen, for I was conscious of knowing practically nothing, and I knew that I would find that they had knowledge of many fine things. In this I was not mistaken” Socrates admits here that humans do hold surface level wisdom, such as craftsmanship or poetry, but he goes on to say that they believe this wisdom translates to “other important pursuits”. This comes as the error in their judgement, as real human wisdom, according to Socrates, includes the fact that they hold ignorance in more divine matters.

Hybris, being an exaggerated sense of self-pride, is evident among those who Socrates questions, the most prominent being Meletus, Socrates’ prosecutor in court. While cross-examining Meletus, Socrates says to the jury, “The man appears to me, men of Athens, highly insolent and uncontrolled. He seems to have made this deposition out of insolence, violence, and youthful zeal”. Hybris often acts as a catalyst for a character’s downfall. Socrates is catching Meletus in a contradiction, as he claims, quite confidently, that Socrates actively does not believe in the gods. Meletus exhibits hybris as he “deals frivolously with serious matters”. Socrates appears incredulous at the remarks of Meletus, as he is providing statements for which he cannot prove. Being a young and unexperienced prosecutor, it is obvious that Meletus is attempting to gain a reputation through this trial and will do so by whatever means necessary. Socrates, a seventy-year-old man, is just in believing that he possesses more wisdom than Meletus, just purely through life experience. He uses this as fuel in the elenchus, as he points out to Meletus that not even he could believe his own accusations against Socrates.

The Greek definition of hybris details a man going against the words of the gods out of pride. Oedipus particularly embodies this trait as, throughout the play, he continuously defies the words of the gods. After being cast away by his birth parents, Oedipus is rescued and raised by the king and queen of Corinth. During this time, he receives the prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother, causing him to leave his “home” in hopes to avoid this fate. The fact that Oedipus, a mortal, believes that he can avoid a fate predestined to him by the gods goes to show that he possesses an arrogance that exemplifies hybris. He believes that he has escaped this path and marries the queen of Thebes after his defeat of the Sphinx. A pollution overtakes Thebes, caused by a murder that “blew the plague breath on our city”. Oedipus takes it upon himself to find the murderer of the prior king, Laius, as that is what is causing the city of Thebes to suffer. It is now revealed by the prophet Teiresias that Oedipus is the murderer of the late king. “You are the killer. You bring the pollution upon Thebes”. Oedipus exhibits hybris again after being given this information, as he is vehemently denying the accusation. He is quick to accuse someone else of putting Teiresias up to this, saying ‘you didn’t find this accusation through your art”. Teiresias, as a prophet, is someone who speaks on the behalf of the gods. This instant rebuttal to Teiresias’ claim is an indirect denial of the word of the gods on the part of Oedipus. This can be attributed to Oedipus’ initial dislike of Teiresias, as he is not acting as a subject typically acts towards their king. “You are the king. But I have the right to speak my mind freely. In this too I am king”. Teiresias is subverting the power of Oedipus as a king, which provides a basis for Oedipus’ dislike. He challenges Oedipus’ status, claiming that he is blind to the truth and has no other choice but to listen to him. It is at this point where Oedipus once again exhibits hybris. He is too proud as king to listen to a subject, even though the words spoken are words from the gods.

In the Apology the consequences incurred upon Socrates not cause him suffering, as he believes that his soul has been taken care of. “A good man cannot be harmed in either life or death”. Human wisdom defines death as a permanent cessation of the mind and body. Socrates, however, does not adhere to human knowledge, as he knows that is does not mean much. He speaks only for himself and for the gods, and because of this he does not fear death in the way of humans. “To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know”. Socrates explains that to fear death implies that a human knows what is to happen once they die. This sort of wisdom is one that comes only from the gods, so a human possessing the fear of death is claiming they possess divine wisdom. Since Socrates is aware that he doesn’t know what happens after death, he simply cannot fear it. He is conscious of this break in his knowledge, and that is why he is able to go forth in his death with no qualms towards the results of his trial. This pursuit of knowledge that Socrates set forth on has not affected his well being in the long run, as he has approached knowledge in a virtuous way, acknowledging that the wisdom that he does possess means little.

Oedipus, on the other hand, is harmed greatly by the knowledge he seeks out, both physically and spiritually. His approach to wisdom is arrogant, and this ultimately results in his downfall. In his role as king, Oedipus falsely assumes a divine position. “I hear your prayer. Listen to me and I will teach you how to heal”. He is responding to the chorus who is expressing their worry about the pollution that is plaguing Thebes. They pray to the gods that they will find a way out of the darkness, and Oedipus claims that he is the one who can help them. This begins his quest for the true source of the horrors in his city, and his arrogance leads him to encounter the information that destroys his honor and reputation.

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