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Lecture 2

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2000
Scott Brandon

POLS 2000 – Week 2 Lecture – September 12 2013 Plato – TheApology Socrates: 469 – 399 BC PlatoApology of Socrates (Public Speech) (Early Dialogue)…Crito (Private Speech) (Companion Dialogue) Background • Socrates was the first philosopher to concern himself with human affairs • As a youth, devoted his time to science…which is not the same Socrates we see in Plato’s dialogues • Philosophy was synonymous with science • He abandons science because of its lack of progress and shifts attention toAthens Three Prominent Sources of Socrates • Plato – best source • Xenophon • Aristophanes How do we draw distinction between Plato and Socrates? • TheApology was not a transcript of Socrates’trial • Plato is a ventriloquist because he puts words into Socrates’mouth that come from him • As a reader we have difficult because we really know what is accurate being that Socrates never said anything specific TheApology • Apologia – a simple defense speech • He is taken to trial inAthens • In Athens a man could bring any citizen to trial, no judges, only officials, and there would be jurors who were chosen by lot o This is important because his speech is from a philosopher vs a jury or the citizens ofAthens who are judging him based on the best interest of their city o Dialogue is a contest of sort between phil and the city ofAthens…but he is also a citizen of Athens … better to say that it is a contest between a philosopher and people who are not philosophers • Trials  hear argument from accusers then defendant followed by a vote o 1 vote is guilty or innocent o If guilty as there is no prescribed punishment, prosecutors recommend a punishment. Prosecutor would normally go along with the defendant if their idea of a punishment fit the crime • Charges  Corruption of the Youth and Not believing in the gods of the city (also called the impiety charge) • Accusers o NewAccusers – Meletus,Anytus, Lycon  politicians, poets, orators, craftsmen is who these three prosecutors represent o Old Accusers – more dangerous than those who brought him up on charges in his present day  Aristophanes is a poet who wrote “The Clouds”  About a younger Socrates  he depicts Socrates as an individual concerned about what is beneath the earth and aloft (as a scientist) and says that Socrates teaches that the weaker argument is the stronger**  **This is what the sophists taught (taught oratory skills to play words in a way to win and charged a fee for their teachings)  Readers of “The Cloud” learned about Socrates because of the writing and grew up with a false understanding of Socrates which would then be handed down generations  Thus, the OldAccusers are more dangerous because they ae the ones that slandered his name • Defense  defends himself by saying he is the one who speaks the truth using plain language, no cleaver language because he saw it as unbecoming o Calls accusers lairs, unjust o Truthful Socrates will place his trust in just things o He knows from the beginning that he will be found guilty, so why does he defend himself  In keeping with the law he is doing his duty to defend himself o Is there a conflict with Socrates saying that he speaks the truth and saying at the same time that his words are based on what is just, are they appropriate?  To say what is just is to say what is in keeping with the law. If he says that theAthenian gods are not the real gods, that is in keeping with the law, but then he says that he specifically does not believe in the gods which would be truth.  How can he be truthful and just at the same time then! o Socrates says charges are baseless.  The young followed him of their own accord, says he speaks and is not a teacher  Undermined the arguments of the old accusers  falsified view of Socrates • Defense against New Accusers 1. Corrupting the Young  daimonia (spiritual things) a. If he is guilty then provide an example. Socrates asks who benefits the youth then? – Meletus responds the law or “care” – the pun is that he doesn’t really care about the youth yet he states several false people that should care about the youth b. The young followed him of their own accord, says he speaks and is not a teacher c. If lawmakers improve the youth, Socrates says they do not because the many make the laws (the daimos)…if one is a horse trainer, is the best care of the horse is provided by the many or by the expert or the few? d. Socrates says that the many and their opinions are not what is important, critiques democracy, asserting then the voice of the expert There are Two UnderlyingAssumptions 1. Athenian democracy expects citizens to believe in a democracy, that it is the best regime. Speaking out against democracy was regarded as a subversive thought 2. In preferring the advice of the expert, Socrates seems to be indicating that the best regime is one of excellence, Greek virtuae o If both of these premises hold, then Socrates would be held as the lone corrupter of Athens o This suggests that there is a radical dialogue between the philosopher vs the City of Athens o Can the philosopher ever find a home in political life then  not really because by their nature they usurp tradition and customs e. Socrates’refutation of Meletus  if I’m corrupting the youth I could be doing intentionally – but that can be because if I was harming the youth then they would be
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