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The Trial and Death of Socrates This is the first lecture of the course. It is more insight on The Trial and Death of Socrates by Plato.

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University of Toronto St. George
Peter King

PHL100Y1 The Trial and Death of Socrates by Plato September 21, 2010 ➢ Socrates was born 480 BCE and died 399 BCE; he was an Athenian citizen ➢ Greeks decided to try out different modes of civil organization—governments ➢ whole citizenry was in the army ➢ The Greeks tried out democracy; any citizen could participate in the assembly; a participatory democracy ➢ juries were immense and it was considered a city virtue to participate in these civil activities ➢ knowing how to persuadetheople and speak eloquently—a key to success ➢ around the second half of the 5 century,Athens emerged as the rich and powerful leader of theAthenian city states; it influenced the policies of other city states ➢ crisis in values—what really mattered now was wealth, power, success by speaking well in the assembly ➢ there are people who teach you how to speak well to the assembly with fees—Sophists; had a bad reputation because they are amoral and suspicious ➢ he didn't charge money and he claimed that he didn't know anything—a philosopher ➢ Socrates and philosophy was born in a crisis of ethical values, questioning the old values and using reason to answer them What Made Socrates Distinctive? ➢ Socratic Method was to cross-examine interlocutors about their beliefs, usually on moral matters, to judge, their soundness; typically meant to be a cooperative venture, it often ended without definitive resolution ➢ Likewise, Socratic Irony is a standard phrase ➢ Socrates seems to have held that knowledge is not only necessary for virtue but also sufficient for it, which led him to deny the reality of 'weakness of will' and related phenomena. He is therefore sometimes called an 'intellectualist' ➢ Socrates held that morality is impersonal and complete, that is, it makes no special exceptions and can demand anything of you ➢ Socrates held that morality is a rational enterprise: it is based on principles that need to stand up to examination and argument Socrates' Followers (most noteworthy being): ➢ Antistheses ➢ Aristippus of Cyrene ➢ Plato ➢ Euclid of Megara ➢ Phaedo of Elis ➢ Xenophon, Aleibiades, Critias The Trial of Socrates: ➢ Socrates was indicted for three charges:  he didn't acknowledge the gods, more or less tantamount to atheism  introducing strange deities or daimonia  corrupting the youth TheApology ➢ The “early accusations” are as follows (18B and 19B): ◦ Socrates studies things in the sky and below the earth ◦ Socrates makes the worse argument appear the better ◦ Socrates teaches these same things to others ➢ The main response to these charges is the story of the Oracle of Delphi ➢ “The unexamined life is not worth living” --Socrates ➢ His purpose is to wake people up and make them realize what kind of life they are living—worthless or not ➢ Socrates bases his argument on three principles and one factual claim: ◦ “It is wicked and shameful to do wrong, to disobey one's superior, be he god or man” ◦ “I shall never fear and avoid things of which I do not know whether they may not be good rather than things I know to be bad” ◦ It is the most blameworthy ignorance to believe that one knows what one does not know ◦ I ha
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