Dialogue between Socrates and Martin Luther King
Socrates was an inscrutable and an enigmatic individual who despite the fact that he wrote nothing has always been considered as one of the philosophers who changed how philosophy ought to be conceived. From various readings, we can depict that both Martin Luther King as well as Socrates shared a common belief of “I did my part and did fight the law, nevertheless my law emerged the winner”. They both strived in proving the truth principle that justified their persecutions. Both Martin Luther and Socrates argued on whether or not breaking the law was unjust or just.
Socrates point on law is the fact that what makes a certain act not to be pious or pious is usually innate and not what the gods consider to being pious (Plato, 2002). The early dialogues show him seeking to define some ethical questions as well as asking some awkward questions. He discussed on the nature of justice, piety to the authorities and the relationships between human virtue and philosophical knowledge (Plato & George, 2002, pp. 1). Both martin Luther and Socrates had firm beliefs when it came to the laws.
Both Socrates and Martin Luther were in jail because of a similar reason; civil disobedience. Dr. Martin Luther defines laws to be either just or unjust. Like Socrates he believed in laws and also agreed that they were quite necessary in order to maintain order and avoid anarchy. They also believed that everybody had an obligation to disobey a law which they felt was unjust. However, Socrates view differed since he did not believe the laws were either unjust or just but hence believed that everybody should obey all the laws of the country in which they lived.
The practical argument of Socrates against escaping prison is the fact that if he decides to do so he will hence be disobeying the laws that gave him some rights and offered protection to him in his entire life. Martin Luther in his letter from Birmingham jail ( Martin, 1963), he creates an appraising and a ringing response to statement by an Alabama clergyman who opposed his actions claiming they were untimely and unwise. The letter addresses on the wrongfulness of segregation as far as race was concerned.
He uses a powerful tone in order to compliment his immense opinions and uses comparisons to reveal on why segregation is wrong and the effects it has on people. King connects himself to a supreme being and implies that above all legal laws and constitutional rights there are also God given rights and these are the ones that he was supporting and following (Martin, 1963). There is a major comparison between Socrates and King who were condemned for their ideas and these comparisons reveal that they were both fighting a divine cause and one that had the support of History and God.
In his letter, he uses some peculiar words in illustrating the division that prevailed between the blacks and the whites. In writing on the differences between the unjust and just laws, he uses some contrasting words for example degrade and uplift, segregated and segregator, inferiority and superiority and the minority and the majority to create an immense definition on the two people. Through his contrasting terminology on his arguments on unjust laws, he develops a relationship between the blacks and the whites that suggest a complete domination and oppression.
King believes that a white person who is doing nothing in helping on desegregation is as well supporting segregation. His use of emotional tools, comparison and some contrasting terminologies helps the reader in comprehending on the meaning behind segregation and civil disobedience. Through comparing himself as well as his followers to the historical and biblical figures, he hence creates a feeling of imperativeness when discussing on the wrongfulness in obeying the unjust laws.
According to Martin Luther, laws were unjust depending on whether or not they restricted the people unfairly or incase a man used them in restricting the people in an unfair way. Some of the injustices that he highlights are for example the Christians who were willing to go ahead and face some hungry lions and the concept of also submitting to some of the unjust laws that were prevalent in the Roman Empire. He asserted that the society ought to protect those who are robbed and go ahead and punish all the robbers (Martin, 1963).
He also affirms on what Adolf Hitler had done in Germany and though it was legal at that time it did not make the whole scenario right. He asserts that though laws should be followed, they should only be followed if at all they are morally right. Finally he closes up by pointing to the fact that though they commended the Birmingham police for keeping order as well as preventing violence, it is unfortunate that he had used violence and it would have been right if they had just commended the protestors who were brave and also dealing with the aggression in a way that was nonviolent.
Socrates argues extensively against the ideology of escaping the death penalty that had been imposed on him by the Athens thus laying the groundwork on some future debates on the rights of people as well as the rule of law. Getting more in depth of the laws that Socrates had used in supporting all his views is on the idea that if he decided to disobey the laws he would hence be violating them on the grounds that they were his parents and guardians and because of the fact that after being obedient he would neither be persuading them in changing decisions in case they were at fault nor obeying them.
Socrates in the play affirmed that the laws that were prevalent allowed his parents to go ahead and marry and raise him in a more effective and quality manner as well as educate him (Aristophanes, 2008). Socrates has a very strong stand when it comes to the connection between morality and the law. He asserts that laws ought to be followed and any disobedience to the law is not justified. Socrates compares the relationship between morality and law on how a child ought to never cause any harm to their parents because by doing so they have already disrespected the law.
The city’s laws ought to be respected to the letter just as parents are respected. He affirms that it is impious to go ahead and bring violence against your parent’s and it is worse when the disobedience is directed to the country (Plato, 2002, pp. 46). Socrates was an enemy of democracy and believed that the rule of the law meant that it was not left to the discretion of those in power to decide what actions ought to be condemned or approved but standards that are laid by the law should be followed. Both Martin Luther and Socrates correlated together in their thinking as well as actions.
They were both convicted wrongfully and injustice was done upon them. However, they did not disregard the law and its powers. This hence reveals that the law ought to be used as the governing body and defying it only serves as opposition to the law and the governing state. Dr. King weaves the moral sources on a logical and rhetorical argument on nonviolent disobedience in overcoming racism and segregation. He argues that all institutions of segregation are anti-democratic and unjust that alleges to be democratic.
His main idea is that all laws that support segregation ought to be disobeyed and be replaced with just and democratic laws that do recognize the freedoms and basic rights of the people. Both Socrates and Martin Luther dialogue on laws differ at times and also to an extent they are similar. Martin was against unjust laws but Socrates believed that laws whether just or unjust ought to be followed. However, one thing that is evident is that they both recognized the law and respected it.