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Socrates allows his enemies to win by staying and accepting his sentence. From the onset of the case, Socrates fails to put a strong defense on his innocence. Rather, he appears unconcerned about the case brought against him. He is rude, arrogant, and fails to empathize with the prosecutor and Athens’ society. As a result, he is unable to convince more than 50% of the jurist that he is innocent. In addition, he appears to be unconcerned with his first sentence and does not put a strong appeal for a less punitive sentence.
Due to his conduct, his enemies are able to ensure that he is sentenced to death. With regards to whether his enemies win when they ensure he is put to death is rather debatable. Although his enemies ensure that he does not continue to train more people due to his death sentence, the case that they brought against Socrates and his defense is one of the main reasons people study on his philosophical theories.
Simply, the case made more people interested in knowing the facts that Socrates taught. As such, his enemies do not win in stopping people from understanding the knowledge which he presented.
In the Euthphyro dialogue, Socrates discusses with his friend on the difference between impiety and piety. However, he is unable to complete the case since his friend Euthphyro is in a hurry to return to his place. In the Apology dialogue, Socrates presents the main apology for the case leveled against him. His enemies had accused him of deception and blasphemy since they believed that he compared himself to Zeus, an Athens God.
“I do not know, men of Athens, how my accusers affected you; as for me, I was almost carried away in spite of myself, so persuasively did they speak. And yet, hardly anything of what they said is true. Of the many lies they told, one in particular surprised me, namely that you should be careful not to be deceived by an accomplished speaker like me… If they mean that, I would agree that I am an orator, but not after their manner, for indeed, as I say, practically nothing they said was true. From me you will hear the whole truth, though not by Zeus, gentlemen, expressed in embroidered and stylized phrases like theirs, but things spoken at random and expressed in the first words that come to mind…” (Plato, 2002, pp. 22). Finally, the Crito section has a dialogue of Crito and Socrates. In this dialogue, Crito attempts to console Socrates, interestingly he finds him composed and not worried about his imminent death. “CRITO: By Zeus no, Socrates. I would not myself want to be distress and wake so long. I have been surprised to see you so peacefully asleep. It was on purpose that I did not wake you…” (Plato, 2002, pp. 45).
Socrates demonstrated a lot of pride in the manner that he defended himself. Since he had been accused of being deceitful and pretending to be Zeus, an ancient Athens god, it would have been wise for him being humble. Rather, in his defense, he argued that he was more knowledgeable than his enemies, which shows he is proud and arrogant. “Perhaps some of you will think that I am jesting, but be sure that all that I shall say is true. What has caused my reputation in none other than a certain kind of wisdom. What kind of wisdom? Human wisdom, perhaps. It may be that I really possess this, while those whom I mentioned just now are wise with a wisdom more than human; else I cannot explain it, for I certainly do not possess it, and whoever says I do is lying and speaks to slander me. Do not create a disturbance, gentlemen, even if you think I am boasting, for the story I shall tell does not originate with me, but I will refer you to a trustworthy source.” (Plato, 2002, pp. 25). Obviously, such a rude remark by Socrates must have angered the jury since it showed that he did not respect the court. In addition, by him stating that he possessed human knowledge, he implied that it was a special form of knowledge that was of people who were more special than the rest of the society.
Socrates is rude and unapologetic. In fact, he is ready to die if the jury does not agree with his defense. This arrogant and an empathetic attitude increases the likelihood of him being convicted. “Now if by saying this I corrupt the young, this advice must be harmful, but if anyone says that I give different advice, he is talking nonsense. On this point I would say to you, men of Athens: “Whether you believe Anytus or not, whether you acquaint me or not, do so on the understanding that this is my course of action, even if I am to face death many times.” Do not create disturbance gentlemen, but abide by my request not to cry at what I say but to listen, for I think it will be to your advantage to listen, and I am about to say other things at which you will perhaps cry out.” (Plato, 2002, pp. 35). These statements show that he is not concerned about his sentences and he is not apologetic for his actions.
Socrates makes a joke of the court, which increases the chances of him getting a harsh punishment. For example, he makes a joke of people who bring their households into the court so that the jury can be merciful. Ironically, he says that although he did not bring his household to the court he also has a family and he did not come from and oak or a rock (Plato, 2002, pp. 39). “Perhaps one of you might be angry as he recalls that when he himself stood trial on a less dangerous charge, he begged and implored the jurymen with tears, that he brought his children and many friends and family into court to arouse as much pity as he could, but that I do none of these things, even though I may seem to be running the ultimate risk…My good sir, I too have a household and, in Horner’s phrase, I am not born “from oak or rock” but from men…” (Plato, 2002, pp. 38). In addition, he casts doubt on the competence of the jury. In particular, his statement “Thinking of this, he might feel resentful towards me and, angry about this, cast his vote in anger” (Plato, 2002, pp.38). This statement implies that the jury may be biased and not objective. Simply, he casts doubt on the competence of the jury. Naturally, such an action increases the chances of the court being harsh towards him.
Finally, Socrates did not show any remorse or will to change. In his defense before the jury, he said that it would be extremely difficult for him to remain silent if he was released. Simply, this statement implied that a less punitive defense that would allow him to continue interacting with other members of the society would not be an adequate preventive measure to stop him from spreading his theories. Accordingly, the court had only two options, either to give him a solitary lifetime sentence or a death penalty. “Perhaps someone might say: But Socrates, if you leave us will you not be able to live quietly, without talking? Now, this is the most difficult point on which to convince some of you. If I say that it is impossible for me to keep quiet because that means disobeying the god, you will not believe me and will think I am being ironical. On the other hand, if I say that it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living for men, you will believe me even less.” (Plato, 2002, pp. 41).
Although Socrates enemies manage to ensure that he is executed, they do not win in ensuring the knowledge he taught is stopped. In fact, this book presents one of the first cases in which philosophy students learn the thought concepts taught by Socrates. “I am saying this, not to all of you but to those who condemned me to death…” (Plato, 2002, pp. 42). Ultimately, his enemies won in executing him but not in ensuring that his philosophical concepts and ideologies stopped being taught.
2. For Aristotle, how Does one Become a Virtuous Human Being?
According to Aristotle, a person becomes a virtuous being when he deliberately decides to do a rightful thing. Simply, virtue and vice require a person’s deliberate action. Unfortunately, most people do not have a lot of virtue since they mostly refuse to conduct themselves in a rightful and acceptable manner. In order for a person to be virtuous, he must carry out the right things and he/she must have right reasons for his/ her action. Simply, his/ her desire with regards to his/her actions should also be correct (Aristotle, 1906, pp. 35-38).
A person is said to be incontinent if he knows the right set of actions but he/she does not do them since he/she succumbs to his/her selfish motives. It is worth noting that an incontinent person has wrong desires and action despite knowing what is right. Therefore, a continent person is one who knows the right set of actions and carries them by overcoming ant selfish motives that may arise (Aristotle, 1906, pp.40). An intemperate person is one who intentionally pursues excesses of pleasurable things. Since his actions are intentional, he does not regret them. On the contrary, a temperate person pursues pleasures at a moderate level and avoids excess pleasures (Aristotle, 1906, pp. 43-47). When comparing between a continent person and a temperate person, the latter is the better of the two since although the continent person does the right reasons, he has bad desires. A temperate person does good deeds and has appropriate desires (Aristotle, 1906, pp. 50-54).
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