Dilemmas In Plato's Apology

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In Plato’s Apology, the reader is brought into Athenian court where Socrates is defending himself against charges of not recognizing the gods of the state, inventing new deities, and corrupting the youth of Athens. While these are the charges being brought against him presently, Socrates finds it necessary open his defense by addressing an older charge – being a sophist. While Socrates, like sophists, ruminates on God, relativism, and the use of rhetoric, he asserts that all charges of his being a sophist are false and brings up good evidence that proves his point. In this paper, I will define Sophism, and show both the similarities and the differences between they got hold of most of you from childhood and persuaded you with their accusations …show more content…
One of the reasons Socrates is seen as a sophist is his use of rhetoric, and the way in which he makes the weaker argument the stronger. Socrates asserts that this accusation arose due to his divine mission after speaking with the Oracle at Delphi. Socrates recounts how his friend Chaerephon asked the oracle if anyone was wiser than Socrates, to which the Oracle responded that no one was wiser. This put Socrates in a quandary, for he knew that he possessed no wisdom in anything great or small. Socrates then decides to put the Oracles assertion to the test but questioning people in Athens who are seen as wise, so that he can find someone that possesses more knowledge than him. This leads to Socrates going around the city and having conversations in which he uses the Socratic Method to prove these supposedly wise men had no knowledge at al all. This had two major results: firstly, Socrates was seen as a master of argument and deception – just like sophists – for he always won the argument; secondly, the most powerful men in Athens began to hate him for making them look foolish. Socrates explains, “From this examination, men of Athens, much hostility has arisen against me of a sort that is harshest and most onerous. This has resulted in many slanders, including that reputation I mentioned of being ‘wise’” . Socrates’ skillful cross examinations …show more content…
Sophists had a reputation of being atheists, and because Socrates thinks about and questions the existence of the gods he too is seen as an atheist. Socrates does think about the gods often but this does not mean that he is an atheist like many of the true sophists. Socrates defends the notion that he’s an atheist sophist by alleging that, “the people who hear [that I am a thinker of the heaven, and an investigator of all things below the earth] believe that those who investigate such things do not acknowledge the gods either” . Socrates is saying that despite views to the contrary, one can question Gods and still believe they exist, and it is apparent that Socrates does have belief in the gods in numerous places in the Apology. Take for instance Socrates’ acknowledgement of his belief in the Gods during his questioning of Meletus when he says, “I acknowledge daimonic activities, surely it’s absolutely necessary that I acknowledge daimons…we believe that daimons are either gods, or at any rate, children of gods” . While Socrates has been known to question the gods, it is clear that through these pieces of evidence that he is not an atheist like many of the sophist he is accused of being akin to. Another piece of evidence that refutes Socrates’s atheism is his divine mission, something that he would not have embarked on had he no belief in the Gods. It

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