Socrates Essay, Research Paper
By Albo Cruz
Do you know who Socrates is? Socrates is a philosopher who did not only have one perspective to ideas or gods, but had to cross examine them, according to the wishes of his God. He taught his philosophy for free but he sang for his supper. In his era people said he was the wisest man of all but he said he was not wise at all.
Socrates was born in Athens, Greece in 469 B.C.E and was sentenced to death there in 399 B.C.E., at the age of 70. His mother was a midwife, his father was a stonemason, and so was Socrates for a short period. He had a considerably younger wife, Xenthippe, who was believed to be ill tempered and he was believed to have another wife but there are no records of her. Xenthippe had three boys named, youngest Menexnus, Sophroniscus, and oldest Lamprocles. At the time men were responsible for making money, but instead of providing, he was debating at the marketplace.
LIFE BEFORE HIS PHILOSOPHY
His child life is not well known because he refused to chronicle his life or beliefs and he had no followers then. Socrates says that he has a daimion (conscience) that he said, ?It always forbids but never commands me to do anything that would have evil consequences.? He says that if the daimion would not have kept him out of politics he would have been killed sooner. As an Athenian, when a man became sixteen he had to join the army. Xenophon describes Socrates as a loyal soldier with a passion for discussing morality. In battles, Socrates could go without meals longer than anyone else. In the cold winters, other soldiers would be covered with heavy cloaks, while Socrates only had sandals and a robe. Xenophon records that one day Socrates stayed in thought for a day then walked away and perhaps discovered his own purpose.
SOCRATES AS A PHILOSOPHER
Socrates chose to write nothing. Most of what we know of him has come from his pupils Plato, Xenophon, and the playwright Aristophanes. Plato described him as a man with a mission and ethics. Socrates devoted his life to serving, ?the God.” Socrates was a great philosopher that used logical analysis to prove myths wrong, while catching the attention of people with his personality. He was described as especially ugly, with thick lips, a big gut, and a stocky build. Socrates would make jokes of himself, but his beliefs are your true self is not the body but the spirit. According to Socrates, virtue is inner goodness, and is within the inner soul. He believed that the ultimate concern for each human being should be of their own soul. He believed true knowledge was the power of the mind to understand the surviving situation after the facts disappear. He taught no matter what skin color, shape, or height we are all still human beings. A person’s mind can understand facts, but to capture the true essence of something is to understand the nature of it. He also taught people to know what makes the soul in order to behave morally. Socrates believes that people commit evil doings not for the cause of evil, but because of ignorance. Socrates warns those who do commit evil acts for benefits like money, power, or recognition because the guilt of your soul will out weigh your gains. Socrates was convinced that virtue was knowledge and the care of the soul is the highest human goal. One day a man asked an oracle if Socrates was the wisest man of all and the oracle replied, ?Yes.? When Socrates found out about this, he felt that it was his greatest duty to see if the oracle was right by asking questions. While doing this mission of his, he tried to persuade peoples concern to wisdom, truth, and the improvement of their souls. By doing this, he developed the Socratic method or dialectic. This was the practice of examining through guided questions. He would lure out their knowledge then forced others to redefine their sayings, to think of disagreements, and then think, search, guess, and answer every question.
The trial of Socrates has left one of the biggest impressions on history. Only the trial of Jesus was more controversial then this trial. Many Athenians considered Socrates a dangerous free-thinker who did not act conventionally. Sons of rich Athenian families learned his dialectic method and that made them mad. A man named Anytus, a politician, disliked Socrates and convinced Meletus, a father of a pupil, to bring Socrates to trial. The charges were making up new gods and the corruption of the youth. How can you charge a man who only worshipped one god with making up new gods. They expected Socrates to do the usual voluntary exile, but he defended himself in front of 501 jurors. Meletus demanded his death and Socrates gave no effort to defend himself. The juror’s sympathy gave Socrates one last chance to defend himself. He showed the accusers that they did not even know what the charges were and lectured them on ignorance. The jurors were outraged and found him guilty and by tradition he could choose his sentence. He said, ?His death would hurt them more then him and no harm can come to a good man. ?He suggested that he should be given free meals for the rest of his life.” He then said, ?Ideas are not as fragile as men.? After that he stated, ?They cannot be made to drink hemlock. My ideas and example will survive me. The shame will be yours, not mine.? Once again, the jurors were outraged and the votes for his death were more than the votes for his guiltiness. While in prison, his disciples suggested to help him escape, but he refused because it would be breaking Athen?s laws. He insisted that the laws were not responsible but the accusers were. Socrates told his followers a mythical story about the ever lasting soul before the guard came. One of the disciples asked how to bury him and he said, ?Any way you like, but you must get a hold of me, and to take care that I do not run away from you.? At sunset the jailer came in crying with the hemlock and Socrates sent his family away. The jailer thanked Socrates for treating him like a friend. Plato records in Phaedo that Socrates said, “What are you doing, my friends?? He exclaimed. ?I sent away the women chiefly in order that they might not behave in this way; for I have heard that a man should die peacefully. So calm yourselves and bear up.? When we heard that, we were ashamed, and we stopped weeping. But he walked about, until he said that his legs were getting heavy, and then he lay down on his back, as he was told and spoke for the last time. ?Crito,? he said. ?I owe a cock to Asclepius. Do not forget.? ?It shall be done,? replied Crito. When recovering from an illness a cock was to be given to the god Asclepius, the god of healing.
In conclusion, he not only lived his philosophy, but he died for it. He was a focused, down to Earth man. I admire Socrates for his thoughts and the greatness in him. How do you feel this man lived his life?