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Stone" title="The Trial of Socrates by I.F.
One of the major charges against Socrates in his trial was that of "impiety." This allegation specifically referred to Socrates' neglect of the accepted public gods of the city and introducing new gods.
It is true that we cannot be 100% sure of what Socrates said himself as Plato wrote The Apology. However, as this is an account of a well known event, we can be sure that it is accurate (many other of Socrates' friends were present and Plato is less likely to have written something different when there were other people who witnessed the speech). Anyway, the Socratic Problem usually only arises in the dialogues that Plato wrote, not accounts. Plato did use Socrates as a "character" for delivering his own philosophical treatises as well as some of Socrates'. Many historians believe "The Apology" to be Socrates own.
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In the midst of Shakespeare’s greatest run of genius, he would suddenly recoil from his own Negative Capability – and recoil from the world and the people in it, including himself – and write cynical, nihilistic, and rancid works such as Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure. These works are examples of a sickness: an existential nausea at his own abilities coming from someone who has been given the power to create human personalities from thin air and to bring the dead back to life. After Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare avoids all of the unique and powerful inwardness with which he endowed Hamlet, Falstaff, Macbeth, Cleopatra and so many others, and his later works – save, I believe, for The Tempest -- were formalized and cool, removed, offering a Negative even of Negative Capability: a new mathematics of form in some of the “late Comedies” (none of which are comedic) to which the 21st Century has not yet found the key.
Moreover, the feeling of nothingness is that of a dead and death-producing thing. But if this feeling is alive, as in the case I mean, its liveliness dominates the reader’s mind the nothingness of the thing it makes him feel and the soul receives life (if only briefly) from the very power by which it feels the perpetual death of things and of itself. Not the smallest or least painful effect of the knowledge of great nothingness is the indifference and numbness which it almost always inspires about that very nothingness. This indifference and insensibility is removed by reading or contemplating such a work: it renders us sensible to nothingness.
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On his way to his trial Socrates met a man named Euthyphro, a professional priest who is respected by the "authorities" (those who want get rid of Socrates)....
Throughout the Apology, Socrates puts forward his views of wisdom, virtue, and nobility he believes to be moral truths, not to clear his name, but to reveal the ignorance of his prosecutors, judges, and fellow citizens. Against the charges of corrupting the youth, atheism, and introducing new deities, Socrates states that has been doing Athens a service by improving its beliefs of wisdom and virtue. "He [Socrates] regarded the charges as wholly unjustified; he claimed to reform and improve both his own moral outlook and other people's. He devoted his life to cross-examining other people about virtue; he urged them to pay attention to their souls... not to wealth, power and other external advantages." Socrates states that this was his true purpose, for "The unexamined life is not worth living." Later on in the trial Socrates remains steadfast on his views and refuses to give up his philosophical pursuit, even if it costs him his life. He tells the jury, "Therefore if you let me go now... and say to me: Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus [a prosecutor], and will let you off, but upon one condition, that you are not to inquire and speculate in this way any more, and that if you are caught doing this again you shall die; - if this was the condition on which you let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy..."
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FREE Essay on The Trial of Socrates in The Apology
Around 400 B.C., Socrates was brought to trial on charges of corrupting the youth of Athens and “impiety.” Presumably, however, people believed then as we do now, that Socrates’ real crime was being too clever and, not insignificantly, a royal pain to those in power or, as Plato put it, a gadfly. Just as a gadfly is an insect that could sting a horse and prod it into action, so too could Socrates sting the state. He challenged the moral values of his contemporaries and refused to go along with unjust demands of tyrants, often obstructing their plans when he could. Socrates thought his service to Athens should have earned him free dinners for life. He was given a cup of hemlock instead.
An essay or paper on The Trial of Socrates in The Apology
Secondly, this new kind of parrhesiastic game – where the problem is to confront the truth about yourself – requires what the Greeks called "askesis". Although our word "asceticism" derives from the Greek word "askesis" (since the meaning of the word changes as it becomes associated with various Christian practices), for the Greeks the word does not mean "ascetic", but has a very broad sense denoting any kind of practical training or exercise. For example, it was a commonplace to say that any kind of art or technique had to be learned by mathesis and askesis – by theoretical knowledge and practical training. And, for instance, when Musonius Rufus says that the art of living, techne tou biou, is like the other arts, i.e., an art which one could not learn only through theoretical teachings, he is repeating a traditional doctrine. This techne tou biou, this art of living, demands practice and training: askesis. But the Greek conception of askesis differs from Christian ascetic practices in at least two ways: (1) Christian asceticism has its ultimate aim or target the renunciation of the self, whereas the moral askesis of the Greco-Roman philosophies has as its goal the establishment of a specific relationship to oneself – a relationship of self possession and self-sovereignty; (2) Christian asceticism takes as its principle theme detachment from the world, whereas the ascetic practices of the Greco-Roman philosophies are generally concerned with endowing the individual with the preparation and the moral equipment that will permit him to fully confront the world in an ethical and rational manner.
The civic drama of Socrates trial | Aeon Essays
At the trial for his life in 399 BC, Socrates defense is recounted in Plato's Apology. Here Socrates appeared, despite his lengthy defense, not to acquit himself from all accusations, but rather to deliberately ensure that he would be found guilty and thus condemned to death. If Socrates believed his moral purpose was to achieve philosophical virtue, justice and truth by examining life to its fullest, why then would he willingly give his life on the charges of crimes that he did not commit? The answer lies in Socrates realization that taking the right course of action is more important than one that will save him. For he states: "Someone will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong - acting the part of a good man or of a bad" This is Socrates most cherished principle, that in dying for his beliefs he would be choosing the most noble action and not the most obvious.
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