Throughout the semester, our class has read a great variety of pieces of literature. With each reading, came a flurry of thoughts and discussions. These questions are what help us to become better philosophers. Someone who is on a quest to become a good philosopher must always think critically about all arguments and follow a logical conclusion to wherever it may lead. With Oedipus and “Forgiven”, I was able to dig deep into the meanings of the readings and come up with philosophical ideas for both. Another quality a philosopher must possess is the ability to compare and contrast different works of art.
Using more class readings such as Socrates’ Apology, I found similarities and differences that explained my thoughts. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. He also must determine who the murderer of King Laius is. Ultimately, his decisions in the play cause him to find out that it was him who killed Laius. Oedipus clearly believed that was he was doing at the time, was good. Although in the end, he most likely regrets his decisions. From his point of view, Oedipus would most likely think that his move from Corinth to Thebes was a bad decision.
When he heard the news that he was going to kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus moved far away from his home, Corinth. This is something that he probably regrets because remaining in Corinth would have prevented him from meeting King Laius in the road and killing him. Another bad decision from Oedipus’ point of view would be that he didn’t listen to anyone close to him. Oedipus demonstrates three tragic flaws, intolerance, stubbornness, and a short temper, each of which lead into his downfall.
For instance, Oedipus’ stubbornness’ is unmistakably shown when he demands on finding the murderer of Laius and proving that the prophecy hasn’t come true. However, Jocasta, Oedipus’ queen and mother already is aware of the fact that all of this chaos is true and chooses to hide the truth. “That man, why ask? Old shepherds, talk, empty nonsense, don’t give it another thought; don’t even think” Oedipus replies with, “What- give up now, with a clue like this? Fail to solve the mystery of my birth? Not for all the world! ”(Oedipus). Oedipus made these decisions because he thought he was saving his parents by moving away.
He obviously did not want to marry his mother and kill his father, so he figured by leaving Corinth he would avoid the prophecy becoming true. Oedipus is a very stubborn man and he won’t stop until he gets the answers. In this case, he wants to figure out who murdered Laius. The reasoning behind Oedipus’ bad decision to not listen to anyone was mainly due to his stubbornness. I think that if he had not been so dead set on finding out who killed Laius; asking questions and trying to figure it all out, he would not have realized it was himself who was the murdered.
Oedipus certainly was not the only character we read about that made some un-smart decisions. In the article “Forgiven”, the Grosmaires’ daughter Ann is killed by her boyfriend Conor. They end up choosing to forgive Conor, even though he took their daughter’s life. From the Grosmaires’ point of view, a bad decision would have been to not forgive Conor because then, their daughter would have been just another victim in a murder case. Also, in their point of view, not considering what Ann would have wanted if she had still been alive would’ve been a bad decision.
If they had not kept their daughter in mind while choosing to forgive Conor, the Grosmaires would definitely have been dissatisfied. Ann’s mother, Kate announced, “I knew that if I defined Conor by that one moment-as a murderer-I was defining my daughter as a murder victim and I couldn’t allow that to happen” (2 Tullis). The Grosmaires’ believed that if they did not forgive Conor, then all of the attention would have been on him rather than Ann. Another major factor that came in to play when they decided to forgive Conor was their religious background. They tried very hard to base their lives on the lives of Jesus and St. Augustine.
In fact, the father said, “I realized it was not just Ann asking me to forgive Conor, it was Jesus Christ” (2 Tullis). To the Grosmaires, Conor was a part of the family because he had been dating their daughter for years. He even stayed in their home for a period of time. They knew that Ann would have wanted them to forgive Conor because she loved him. By respecting their daughter and what she would have wanted, the Grosmaires felt as if they were doing the right thing. There are a few other options that they could have chosen instead of forgiving Conor. For instance, they shouldn’t have changed their minds about Conor’s jail time.
They did not stick to their word and it seemed as if they almost forgot about the whole concept of forgiveness. After hearing Conor describe how he killed their daughter, they let their emotions take a toll and they changed their minds. Not forgiving Conor at all could have been another alternative choice for the Grosmaires. If this were the case, Conor would have gotten the proper justice that all other criminals get. If they did not forgive Conor, there is the possibility he would have either gotten the death penalty or lifetime in prison. Either way, it’s a far more severe punishment than what he ends up getting.
Conor would be forced to suffer in prison for the rest of his life, knowing how much pain he caused the Grosmaires family. Usually, this is the case for most murder trials in the United States. It is very out of the norm for a murderer to be forgiven in today’s society. In the state of Florida where the death penalty is still used, it is especially strange for the act of killing to be forgiven. If you dig deep into Socrates’ The Apology and “Forgiven”, the two can easily be seen as comparable. First, the Grosmaires’ made the decision to forgive Conor in order to satisfy them.
Despite the slack they received for forgiving a clearly guilty man, they still chose to remain close with Conor and keep him in their lives. The family was extremely religious and they felt as if it was unjust to not forgive him. Like the Grosmaires, Socrates did not allow other people to affect his decision-making. He continually chose the path less taken as was seen in The Apology. While he is being tried by the city of Athens, Socrates confidently accepts the fact that most of the city’s citizens are against him and continues teaching his ideas to others because it was simply the right thing to do.
In an instance where Socrates stands up for himself, he says,“ I realized, to my sorrow and alarm that I was getting unpopular, but I thought that I must attach the greatest importance to god’s oracle…” (loc 616 Apology). He truly believes in doing what morally feels acceptable, not what is socially acceptable and that is a great characteristic about him. Socrates lived his life with the philosophy of “How can you live a good life if you don’t truly understand what it is?
” The Grosmaires’ followed this philosophy also because they did not fully know what the outcome of their decision was going to be, but all they knew was that it made them feel at peace and that is what mattered. Likewise, in The Apology, Socrates says that “he who is able to recognize his limitations is wisest. ” It is nearly impossible for one single person to contain all knowledge of the world. Socrates knew what he did not know which is called Socratic ignorance. He claimed to be the wisest person because he welcomed the fact that he did not know everything in the world.
In connecting Socrates to the Grosmaires, they were able to recognize that things could not be simply handled by sending Conor to prison for life. Sure, it would get him out of their sight, but never out of their minds. They could admit to their weaknesses and power through them with Conor and his family. If the Grosmaires ended up not forgiving him, then they would have actually been ignorant about the entire situation because they knew Conor and they knew that he truly did not mean to hurt their family. He was a good kid who had a mental breakdown that resulted in a murder.
It was impossible for the Grosmaires to stop thinking of Conor as a son and to stop loving him. In addition, Socrates makes it known in The Apology that he is not afraid of death. Death was talked about a lot in this reading because it was the punishment Socrates was to face if he was found guilty. He says, “ To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils” (loc 748 Apology).
This was one of my favorite quotes from The Apology simply because it is so true. The Grosmaires clearly did not fear death either. For if they were afraid, they would not have accepted Ann’s death the way they did. Instead, they tried to turn Ann’s story into something heroic rather than tragic. Never once did they allow the death of their daughter to overcome them. Ann was a great person in their hearts and they believed that she was in a better place. There is no way the Grossmaires are ever going to achieve the life they had before their daughter passed away because it’s impossible to bring her back.
But, by forgiving Conor they are trying to make peace with the idea of their Ann being gone. They are trying to make everything as normal as possible again, keeping Conor and his family in their lives. This is helping them to achieve the good life because they were happiest with their daughter and they don’t want to lose both their daughter and Conor at the same time. He was practically another son. Since the Grossmaires are also very religious people, I think they chose to forgive Conor so they could still consider themselves good Christians.
To them, these aspects contribute to the “good life”. These are similar qualities that I consider to be the good life. In the beginning of the semester, I said that the good life is as stress free as possible. I want to avoid conflict as much as I can because conflict with family members and friends would only bring stress into my life. I think the Grossmaires family wanted to bring peace into their hearts and their lives, and forgiving Conor was the first step in achieving that goal. If I am able to look back and be proud of my choices, that is the “good life”.
The Grossmaires probably had the same mentality when they were figuring out how to treat the Conor situation. They concluded that by forgiving him, they would be able to continue on with their lives and try to make the most of it. Reading “Forgiven” did not seem to change my views on what the good life was. I think from now until forever, my views on that topic will remain the same. The three readings that were discussed, Oedipus, The Apology, and “Forgiven” required much philosophical thinking on my part. With comparing and contrasting, I was able to dig deep into the meanings of each reading and come up with ideas for both.