For us to be able to assess and judge Socrates’ influence on the Athenian society, more importantly the youths, we must first able to determine the foundation of an Athenian society or any political society in general that will enable us to assess if whether Socrates’ teachings is a threat to its existence and survival. If we look back to the dialogues and writings of both Plato and Aristotle and even to latter thinkers in the medieval and modern Europe, we can find a common ground wherein they rooted the rise and growth of any political society.
For these people, a political community and society is a natural implication of the growth of humanity and civilization. Starting from individual existence and exclusion from the rest of world, human managed to come together and form a political entity and society. Human beings from their acknowledgment of the harms of living alone and the benefits of living together, they form political communities that will cater their needs. However, these coming together and living in a community comes with a price.
Humans cannot simply go together and live in a community without giving up something that is a property and characteristic of living independently. For any political society, humans are obliged to give a part of their freedom and natural rights. The benefits of living together require human beings to surrender a part of their selves or a part of their properties. This price can come through the form of surrendering or giving up your desires, freedom or through taxes.
The idea is simple; any political society is founded in a social contract that requires humans to give up in exchange for the benefits and advantages of living in a political community. Socrates who is charged with numerous crimes was executed with the ‘threats’ he posed in the Athenian society, as his prosecutor would say. However, Socrates still argued that his way of life and his ‘teachings’ was not dangerous to the people of Athens and to the existence of their government system. Does Socrates has a point in saying it? Was he executed in the wrong grounds?
In answering this question, we have to go back to the earlier part of our discussion. Recapping it briefly, a political society managed to exist because of the giving up of some of the rights of its citizen to the governing entity or to the political system. The political society cannot survive without limiting its citizens in one way or another. Socrates is a very good example of a person who thinks and act independently without the barriers that is posed by the state and government. From these reason alone, we can assure that Socrates really poses a threat to the Athenian society.
The case of Socrates is tolerable if he will keep his ideas on himself, however, as the dialogues and other writings would tell us, Socrates is wandering around Athens while teaching his way of thinking to other people. Universalizing the ideas of Socrates to the people of Athens, the Athenian political system will surely crumble as people deny in giving up some of their rights. The denial of giving up of rights and properties to the governing entity came from the realizations from Socrates teachings. Indeed, this is a strange position to take on Socrates and his executors.
However, we must take note that politics, real politics is not concerned to the really good things and ideas. At the very core of any political society is the goal of survival and thriving. Socrates operated on the other end of the spectrum which is more humanistic and developmental. As long as the question is limited to the threat posed by Socrates in the Athenian politics, his executors possess the grounds in neutralizing him for the continuous existence of their politics. Works Cited Plato. Cooper, John (ed). Apology. Hacket Publishing Company. Cambridge. Print Plato. Cooper, John (ed) Crito. Hacket Publishing Company. Cambridge. Print.
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