Defence of Socrates and Crito.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 2237E
Douglas Long

Defence of Socrates - their warning that you must be careful not to be taken in by me, because I am a clever speaker - I was not a clever speaker at all unless indeed they call a “clever” speaker one who speaks the truth - I would admit to being an orator - I have been accused before you by many people for a long time now, for many years in fact, by people who spoke not a word of truth - it is those people I fear more than Anytus and his crowd, though they too are dangerous - they have taken hold of most of you since childhood, and make persuasive accusations against me, yet without an ounce more truth in them - those accusers who have spread such rumor about me are the dangerous ones - their audience believes, that people who inquire into those matters also fail to acknowledge the gods - one cannot even get to know their names or say who they were – except perhaps one who happens to be a comic playwright - one cannot put any of them on the stand here in court, or cross-examine anybody, but one must literally engage in a sort of shadow-boxing to defend oneself, and cross- examine without anyone to answer - tell one another, then, whether any of you has ever heard me discussing such subjects, either briefly or at length; and as a result you will realize that the other things said about me by the public are equally baseless - if you have heard from anyone that I undertake to educate people and charge fees, there is no truth in that either - I have gained this reputation on account of nothing but certain sort of wisdom - it is a human kind of wisdom, perhaps, since it might just be true that I have wisdom of that sort - I interviewed this person in conversing with hum, I formed the opinion that, although the man was thought to be wise by many other people, and especially by himself, yet in reality he was not - so I then tried to show him that he thought himself wise without being so I thereby earned his dislike - I am wiser than that fellow because neither of us, I dare say, knows anything of great value; but he thinks he knows a thing when he doesn’t; whereas I neither know it in fact, nor think that I do - he in just this one small respect: if I do not know something, I do not think I do - well, after that I went on to visit one person after another, I realized that I was making enemies; but even so - I thought it my duty to attach the highest importance to the god’s business - in seeking the oracle’s meaning, I had to go on to examine all those with any reputation for knowledge - I found those held in the highest esteem were practically the most defective, whereas men who were supposed to be their inferiors were much better off in respect of understanding - everyone else present could speak better than the poets themselves about their very own compositions - and so, one more, I soon realized this truth about them too: it was not from wisdom that they composed their works, but from a certain natural aptitude and inspiration because those people too utter many fine works , yet know nothing of the matters on which they pronounce - those able craftsmen seemed to me to suffer from the same failing as the poets: because of their excellence at their own trade, each claimed to be great expert also on matters of the utmost importance: and this arrogance of their seemed to eclipse their wisdom - it would appear that it is only the god who is truly wise; and that he is saying to us, through this oracle, that human wisdom if worth little or nothing - “the wisest amongst you is anyone like Socrates who has recognized that with respect to wisdom he is truly worthless” - I still go about seeking out and searching into anyone I believe to be wise, citizen or foreigner, in obedience to the god - then, as soon as I find that someone is not wise, I assist the god by proving that he is not - the young people who follow me around of their own accord have plenty of leisure because their parents are wealthiest, enjoy listening to people being cross-examined - they copy my example themselves, and so attempt to cross-examine others - the people they question are angry with me and say that there is a nasty pestilence abroad called Socrates, who is corrupting the youth - when asked just what he is doing or teaching, they have nothing to say, because they have no idea what he does, they resort to the stock charges against all who pursue intellectual inquiry, trotting out “things in the sky and beneath the earth,” “failing to acknowledge the gods,” and “turning the weaker argument into the stronger” - Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and of failing to acknowledge the gods acknowledged by the city, but introducing new spiritual beings instead - Meletus says that I am guilty of corrupting the young, he is guilty of bring people to trail on frivolous grounds, and professes grave concern about matters for which he has never cared at all - which person, who already knows the laws to begin with? Gentlemen, the judges, Socrates - can these people educate the young, and do they have an improving influence? Most certainly, all of them - So every person in Athens has an excellent influence on them except for me, whereas I alone am corrupting them - the bad have a harmful impact upon their closet companions at any given time, whereas the good have a beneficial effect? Am I, by contrast, so far gone in my stupidity as not to realize that if I make one of my companions vicious, I risk incurring harm at his hands? - either I am not corrupting them – or if I am, I am doing so unintentionally: so either way your charge is false - is it that I am teaching people to acknowledge that some gods exist – in which case it follows that I do acknowledge their existence myself as well, and am not a complete atheist, hence am not guilty on that count – and yet that hose gods are not the ones acknowledged by the city, but different ones? - or are you saying that I acknowledge no gods at all myself, and teach the same to others? - you acknowledge no gods at all - By God he claims that the sun is made of rock, and the moon of earth! - it’s as if he were saying: Socrates is guilty of not acknowledging gods, but of acknowledging gods’; and yet that is sheer tomfoolery - I have earned great hostility among many people - and that is what will convict me, if I am convicted; most Meletus or Anytus but the slander and malice of the crowd - if you suppose that a man with even a grain of self-respect should reckon up the risks of living or dying, rather than simply consider, whenever he does something, whether his actions are just or unjust, the deeds of a good man or a bad one - wherever a man has taken up a position because of considers it best, or has been posed there by his commander, that is where I believe he should remain, steadfast in danger, taking no account at all of death or of anything else rather than dishonour - not that the god assigns me, as I became completely convinced, to the duty of leading the philosophical life by examining myself and others, I desert that post from fear of death or anything else - if I really were to claim to be wiser than anyone in any respect, it would consist simply in this: just as I do not possess adequate knowledge of life in Hades, so I also realize that I do not possess it; whereas acting unjustly in disobedience to one’s betters, whether god or human being, is something I know to be evil and shameful - all I do is go about persuading you, young and old alike, not to care for your bodies or for your wealth so intensely as for the greatest poss
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