Socrates Duty In Plato's Apology

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Socrates’ trial and eventual death sentence in Plato’s Apology consisted of unexpected claims as well as unorthodox methods that left many readers questioning Socrates’ motives. Rather than adhering to social norms and working to get out of his current situation, Socrates chose to use the trial as a stage to execute his duty to the city—a duty that led him to dissent from the immoralities within Athenian society through questioning and educating the crowd on moral behavior. Plato demonstrates Socrates’ duty to Athens is to hold society to the highest moral law, and in doing so he is led to both question and educate society on the immoral practices within it. In critiquing these wrongdoings, he dissents from the demands, expectations, and customs …show more content…
Socrates explains that his duty is to hold society to a morally high law by questioning and critiquing the immoralities he sees around him through philosophy. In holding them to a higher moral law, Socrates calls out those practices which he deems immoral in order to lead society to correct them, thus building a higher moral law. He demonstrates this duty as he explains, “I was attached to this city by the god…as upon a great and noble horse which has become somewhat sluggish because of its size and needed to be stirred up by a kind of gadfly… I never cease to rouse each and every one of you, to persuade you and reproach you” (Plato 30e). Socrates argues that it is his god given duty to stir those around him from what he considers “sluggishness” (30e). In this, he questions, critiques, and educates in order to “persuade and reproach” those around him in order to avoid the “sluggishness” which is immoral behavior (30e). Socrates is able to complete this duty of persuasion and criticism through philosophy. He explains that in philosophy he may “exhort you and in my usual way point out to any one of you whom I happen to meet: ‘Good sir… are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for nor give …show more content…
According to Socrates, most Athenian trials consisted of the accuser bringing forth his “his children and many of his friends and family into the court to arouse as much pity as he could” (34c). To Socrates, this practice of gaining sympathy in order to better one’s chances of acquittal was immoral, as it spoiled the credibility of the law. Socrates states that in doing this, “these men bring shame upon the city” (35b). This is shameful because the men are attempting to supplant the word of the law with sympathy gained from these actions. Socrates mostly questions those who allow this act to influence their role as juror as he states, “It is not the purpose of a juryman’s office to give justice as a favor to whoever seems good to him, but to judge according to law, and this he has sworn to do. We should not accustom you to perjure yourselves… This is irreverent conduct for either of us” (35c). In judging based on this sympathy, the jurors are spoiling the word of the law, thus destroying the base which Athens is built upon. Here, Socrates works to educate the crowd on their wrongdoing, explaining the “irreverent conduct” that leads it to be immoral (35c). In doing so, Socrates is able to lead society towards a higher moral law in their awareness of their wrongdoing. Socrates dissents from this immoral tradition as he both calls out those who

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