Comparing Plato's The Apology Of Socrates And Rousseau

Politics and ethics are two vital components of a functioning society. When these two components are carefully balanced a sate/society can remain organized and fair to its citizens. In a realistic society the idea of what political ethics and human nature consist of varies, but in an idealistic society political ethics and human nature possess a common ground. Political ethics and human nature were a mutual understanding at some point but as societies grew, citizens began to think as individuals instead of as a collective. As a result of this self-serving behavior, inequality and the mistreatment of others quickly followed. Philosophers Niccolò Machiavelli, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Socrates all share their own differentiated views …show more content…
In 399 B.C.E. Socrates, accused of corrupting the youth and “making the weaker argument defeat the stronger” (Plato), faced the furious Athenian jury. During his trial/apology Socrates explained his perspective, stating that he was no fool because he was aware that he knew nothing “I am wiser than this man; neither of us probably knows anything…, but he thinks he has knowledge, when he has not, while I, having no knowledge, do not think I have” (Plato). As written by Plato, Socrates’ “apology” is no real apology, as Socrates simply brings attention to his argument, while at the same time exposing the weaknesses of the accusations brought up against him. Submerged in his disgust of greed and corruption Socrates sets out to find the “wise ones” but in the process ends up exposing the highly respected yet selfish members of the society. In his interviews Socrates asked questions that made his subjects feel insecure and exposed, but even though his so called interviews made him unpopular Socrates believed it to be his responsibility to “expose the frailty in human nature” (Plato). Socrates’ idea of political ethics is similar to that of Rousseau’s as both believed that the lust for power has led to corruption that should be exposed and fixed. I agree that the lust for power and corruption had distorted ethics and made them tools for manipulative leaders but I …show more content…
Rousseau explains how a reset button is needed for politics at his time because the natural state of man has been compromised by the self-indulgence and dependent nature of politics. After man had strayed from the set of rules laid down by god/nature he was no longer self-sufficient and free but was enslaved by manmade laws that enforced inequality. Rousseau criticizes the idea of property “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying 'this is mine ', and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society” (Rousseau). In this statement Rousseau claims that the idea of property is one of the origins of inequality, as man claimed the land as his own and began exploiting nature. Rousseau’s call for a reset button on political ethics is at a disagreement with Machiavelli’s idea, where Machiavelli urges the Prince to recognize and utilize the lapses in human nature. Similar to my agreement with Socrates’ idea of an idealistic society, I agree that corruption and the lust for power have distorted political ethics, but a reset button on society is unrealistic as corruption and inequality will always

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