POLS 2000 Lecture Notes September 12, 2013
Lecture 2: Apology
• New paper topic in the revised Course Outline posted on Courselink.
• Nov. 21 is the final class of the term.
• Apology of Socrates:
• When writing about this, state the name “Apology of Socrates”.
• Socrates (469/470399BC) was the first philosopher to question human affairs and
ethics (some debate about this).
• As a young man, Socrates devoted his attention to Science.
• For some reason, he abandoned his pursuit of Scientific knowledge and shifts his
attention to the study of ethics.
• Socrates never wrote or published anything.
• 3 Sources of Socratic Understanding
• 1) Platoconsidered the best of the three.
• 2) Xenophon
• 3) Aristophanes“Clouds”.
• Almost nobody believes that Socrates’ speech in “The Apology of Socrates” is
• Many believe that Plato is a “ventriloquist” of sorts; namely, that he puts words
into Socrates’ mouth.
• By treating Plato as a “ventriloquist”, you can focus on the content of the speech
and not get hung up on the contradiction that Socrates claims the truthfulness of
his forthcoming speech at the beginning of “The Apology of Socrates” and the
speech is not in his own (verbatim) words.
• In Classical Athens, any citizen could bring another citizen to trial.
• There was no judge in the contemporary sense, there was a jury comprised of the
citizens of Athens.
• In fact, his speech in “The Apology of Socrates” is directed at the jury and it can
be argued that he is contesting his innocence against the jury rather than to them 2
because it is a charge brought about by a citizen (Meletus) and the jury is
composed of citizens.
• The prosecution argues, and then the defense argues.
• An “apologia” is Greek for “defense speech”.
• There were two charges brought against Socrates1) corrupting the youth of
Athens, and 2) not believing in the Gods of the city (Athens [“impiety]).
• Socrates logically defends himself against the charges.
• 1) Old Accusers Aristophanes (comic poet who wrote “The Clouds” about
Socrates and depicts him as a “scientist” who “portrays the weaker argument is
the stronger” which is a character trait of the Sophists).
• The ‘new accusers” had this misconception handed down to them.
• 2) New AccusersMeletus (on behalf of the politicians and craftsmen), Anytus (on
behalf of the poets) and Lycon (on behalf of the orators).
• Socrates states the “old accusers” are more dangerous than the latter.
• States that the “old accusers” are the ones who have slandered his name and
brought about the circumstances whereby he has become charged.
• He states that he will speak the truth and that he not use “clever speech” as it is
unbecoming for an old man.
• He states his accusers are the ones who are unjust and the ones who are liars.
• He states that he didn’t think he would be acquitted and that he thought the vote
would be much more in favour of convicting him.
• Her enters into an apparent contradiction by stating that what he says is the
“truth” and saying what is “just”.
• The question begs, are these two reconcilable?
• If what he says is what he believes then it is the truth.
• However, what he says may contravene Athenian law and is therefore unjust.
• He first addresses the “old accusers”.
• Old accusers can be seen in 19a820c3.
• This means the page numbers in the margin. 3
POLS 2000 Lecture Notes September 12, 2013
• At 19a7, Socrates says that he will keep his obedience concerning international
• He says its his legal duty to defend himself against these charges.
• The Oracle at Delphi claimed Socrates was the wisest man in Greece.
• Socrates asks about important questions (piety, etc)
• He states that his strict adherence to the gods and the voice of a god in his head
and through this he debunks the charge.
• If he does not believe in the voice that was part of his experience, he cannot
believe in the Gods.
• There is also a great deal of influence that Socrates had.
• At this point, Socrates’ investigation is at least in keeping with his views on ethics
and the dialectic method (engaging people and discussing/proving them wrong.
• The “New Accusers” arguments you can find .24c4
• The Greek term ’”damonia” (devilishly/sin full things which is a blend of
spiritual, he addresses Miletus’ charges).
• Also, children of gods, spiritual things, divine things.
• Plato makes a number of antidemocratic” remarks by referring to “the many”.
• These arguments can be applied to today’s society as well.
• There are Two Underlying Premises:
• 1) Democracy, especially Athenian Democracy, expects its citizens to believe
unquestionably that democracy is the best regime.
• 2) In preferring the advice of the expert, Socrates seems to indicate that the best
regime is best with a “view to virtue” or excellence.
• If these two assumptions hold, than it can be understood that Socrates is the one
corruptor in Athens.
• This means that there is a radical opposition in this dialogue between Socrates v.
The City of Athens.
• Ask yourself this question: Is there a tension between the Philosopher and the
• Refutation of Corruption Charge:
• Begins by saying that he could be corrupting them intentionally or
• He says that intentional harm does not make any sense.
• If he had intentionally harmed them, they would respond/retaliate.
• However, he points out that he has a large following and he couldn’t possibly be
harming them i