The Last Days Of Socrates

– An Unlawful Execution Essay, Research Paper

Socrates, considered by many historians as the greatest mind to ever live, spent his final days under the false accusations of the law. These accusation were that Socrates was not worshipping the gods of the popular ancient culture, and was also corrupting the young with his constant questioning of the truths of other philosophers. Socrates defended himself under the eyes of the court, and proved to all through reason that the accusations of the court were false. However, the jury had found Socrates guilty, and sentenced him to death by drinking hemlock. Socrates friend, Crito, argues with the philosopher to escape his eminent death, and flee the city, but Socrates argues that the state has the right to put him to death, and agrees to his execution, forever making him a martyr to truth and justice. I believe, however, that Socrates himself acted unjustly by letting the state execute him since he was an innocent man, the same kind of person the law is supposed to protect. Even though the arguments that Socrates provides for his own death are reasonable, he himself would do more good for more people if he himself escaped, even if it meant going against what he truly believed was the right thing to do.

The Last Days of Socrates is an account written by Plato of the sentencing and death of Socrates. Not only a famous philosopher himself, Plato is a follower of Socrates. Plato s hatred of the democracy that killed his mentor is the motivator for the writing of the book. Not only does it give a strong message against democracy (Plato believed in rule by one Philosopher King), it also provides insight into the mind of Socrates (through the eyes and mind of Plato). By reading his method of thought and reason, one can gather that Socrates is a believer in truth, and that one come to it by reason alone. Socrates argues that the truth of the matter is that the state has the right to put an innocent man to death. Socrates is a citizen of Athens, and must abide by the law it has put upon all its people. Socrates claims escaping would be unjust because it would constitute a step in their own destruction and there is an agree between him and the Laws like that between parent and child, requiring obedience in return for his upbringing. These are not solid arguments against that of an innocent man. First, if Socrates were to escape, he would not harm the state in any way, but save its soul. Allowing the death of an innocent man would harm the souls of the state, so by escaping, Socrates would be doing them a favour. This outlines the argument of state versus the individual; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Socrates would be selfish if he were to allow his own death for the saving of his own soul when the goodness of so many would be destroyed. The argument for the filial relationship between citizen and the state is also weak. It is one thing to punish a child for disobedience, but to allow his death for the purpose of convenience is another thing. The death of Socrates is a matter of convenience because the only solid reason for killing him was because he annoyed everyone with his constant questions and contradictions. He was called the gadfly of Athens because he was considered a pest. To say that it is okay to kill a child for personal relief, Socrates is arguing that abortion is okay, and one needs not to write about how abortion is morally wrong, and only leads to the destruction of ignorant, yet important souls.

Socrates goes on to argue that as a citizen who remains in the city of Athens, he is obliged to follow the Laws of the state. Crito argues, however that the laws that he obliged to are unjust, and Socrates would be furthering an injustice, and therefore would verify the laws are just by abiding to them whole-heartedly. If laws are supposed to protect the innocent, who or what are the people protecting themselves from if they send an innocent man to his death? Following the law, in this case, is, in essence, putting the law above the truth, rather than having them inherent in each other. Socrates would not submit himself to the truth, but to a false witness, and is therefore not seeking truth and choosing good by allowing an injustice against himself to continue, and thereby harming the souls of the state. Socrates has not lived a good life, or a long life, if his life is ended by him furthering injustice. Socrates has not fully done good until the end of his life.

Though the great Socrates provides a strong argument for his death, to many will suffer in return. Though he believes in absolute law, his citizen s abortion cannot be allowed, it is too costly for the state, and even his soul. Some people argue that Socrates needed to be a martyr in order to get the message across about either the necessary reformation of the law, or the futility of democracy, but their could also be a third option that I believe may be true. Perhaps Socrates wanted to be remembered forever. Maybe fame after death was his motive. Whatever the case, Socrates was wrong, and did not help others in the end, only himself. His death, did however, make him famous, but at what cost? Let us hope he chose the right thing to do, and his life was not wasted.


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