Plato And Socrates: The Meaning Of Life Essay Example
Plato And Socrates: The Meaning Of Life Essay Example

Plato And Socrates: The Meaning Of Life Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1304 words)
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To fully grasp the importance of life, it is vital for people to acquaint themselves with the different components that constitute human existence. Being a social creature, man's social aspect is indispensable for a satisfying life. Introspection and questioning one's purpose in existing are necessary to comprehend the meaning of life. When individuals uncover their reason for being in this world, they gain insight into the true essence of life.

This paper delves into the meaning of life as expounded by Socrates in the "apology", which refers to his defense. The apology is a speech by Plato, delivered by Socrates as a defense against charges of corruption and disbelief in the city's gods. Apology also signifies a defense of one's beliefs or actions. In literature, it portrays the concept of defending oneself against an attack.



The text discusses the opposite of satire, which is an attack on the world. It focuses on one of Plato's works, highly regarded during that time. The work is a discussion about the death of Socrates and delves into his final days (Russon et al 560). It begins by stating that Socrates is uncertain if his jury, the men of Athens, have been influenced by the accusers.

The opening statement made by Socrates is crucial to the subsequent speech. He asserts that for philosophy to endure, one must first acknowledge their own ignorance. Socrates claims that his wisdom stems from embracing the fact that he knows nothing. He suggests that his thoughts are oriented towards recognizing his lack of knowledge. Socrates parodies, corrects, and even imitates orators, urging them not to judge him based on his oratory skills but instead on the truth

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He explicitly states that he did not intend, nor was he prepared, to employ carefully crafted phrases and ornate words. Instead, he planned to speak using spontaneous expressions that came to mind.

According to Langton (37), the man declares that he intended to communicate in the same manner as he did at the money tables and at agora. Despite the presence of disclaimers, this individual demonstrates himself as a knowledgeable and articulate speaker who possesses persuasion skills. This positions him as someone who can provide guidance and correction to other orators, suggesting that they should engage in their craft with wisdom. Rather than conforming to conventional approaches, they should adopt a prudent mindset, recognizing its importance. Even though the man had an opportunity to appease the audience and avoid punishment through small concessions, he consciously chooses not to do so, and his speech remains completely devoid of seeking any form of acquittal.

According to Russon et al (568), Socrates is sentenced to death as a result. The accusers against Socrates can be categorized into three groups: informal speakers of the gods, scholars, and politicians and workers. Socrates claims that he was able to refute two specific accusations - corrupting the youth and not showing due respect to the gods of the society or city.

Socrates, however, acknowledged the existence of the city's gods, but questioned their abilities (Langton 40). During his speech, Socrates acknowledges that these charges stem from years of prejudice and rumors, making it difficult for one person to address each individual accusation (Hunter 479). He classifies the informal charges as legal accusations, accusing him of committing injustice by investigating underground and celestial matters. He also

argues that he strengthens weak arguments in society and encourages others to follow his beliefs and actions. Socrates claims that these allegations are echoed in the works of poet Aristophanes.

According to the speaker, Aristophanes' play, The Clouds, portrayed Socrates as a scientific sophist and atheist. However, it is unlikely that Aristophanes intended for these portrayals to be taken seriously. This is because Plato states that Socrates and Aristophanes had a good relationship, particularly at the symposium (Howland 523). In response to being mistaken for a sophist, Socrates argues that it would be difficult for him to be confused with one because sophists are considered wise and well paid. He claims to live in extreme poverty and insists that he possesses no knowledge of anything good or noble.

Socrates begins by using his own wisdom and suggests using a signal to Chaerephon, who was considered impetuous, to ask the oracle who was wiser than Socrates. The oracle tells Socrates that there is indeed no one wiser than him, which surprises him because he believed otherwise. However, the oracle cannot lie, and Socrates knows he is not truly wise. So, Socrates decides to find someone else who is wiser to bring evidence to the oracle. This initiates the examination of who truly appears wise.

Socrates began testing poets, scholars, and politicians, believing that they possessed wisdom. However, he discovered that although some were geniuses, none of them truly had wisdom. They considered themselves wise and society also viewed them in the same way. Socrates realized that he was actually superior because none of them, including himself, were truly wise (Hackforth 345).

According to McCoy (24), in Athens, Socrates claimed that

the men who wished to follow him and witness his examinations did not require significant effort. Similarly, those who were examined by Socrates found it easy to undermine their own claims of possessing wisdom. In reality, they lacked wisdom entirely. As a result, they resorted to accusing Socrates of corruption and disrespecting the city's deities to defend against their lack of wisdom. Socrates finds it astonishing that those found guilty in the examinations would direct their anger towards him instead of reflecting on themselves and seeking improvement (Gallop 24).

Such a thing is what gives someone the reputation of being wise, while also causing them to lose favor with socially powerful individuals. Seeking justice and wisdom are fundamental aspects of life. It does not require one to defend themselves against numerous accusations from the people we live among. Instead, it is about being wise and resilient in the face of challenges that test our wisdom and reputation in society. Ultimately, Socrates is found guilty by the majority of judges.

After receiving his verdict, Socrates stood up to address the people who had voted for his death. He explains that he could have defended himself with words, but time constraints prevented him from making the emotional appeals that are expected in a death penalty case. Socrates boldly states that the fear of death should not deter anyone from pursuing goodness and truth. He predicts that future critics, who are harsher and younger, will continue to provoke others more than his current situation does (Bremmer 12).

Socrates offers encouragement to those who voted for his acquittal. He explains that even his daimon, or spiritual guide, did not prevent him from

defending himself in the same manner. This was a sign that he was on the right path. His daimon communicated to him that death is a blessing as it brings an end to worries and leads to eternal peace. Therefore, there should be no fear of death. Socrates believes that life's true purpose lies in defending truth and goodness, even if it means sacrificing one's own life.

Works cited

  1. Bremmer, Jan N. "Atheism in antiquity." The Cambridge companion to atheism 7 (2007): 11-26.
  2. Gallop, David. "Defence of Socrates, Euthyphro, Crito." (2008).
  3. _x000D_
    Hackforth, Reginald. The composition of Plato's Apology. Cambridge University Press, 2014._x000D_
  4. _x000D_

  5. _x000D_
    Havelock, Eric A._x000D_
  6. _x000D_

Preface to Plato. Vol. 1. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Howland, Jacob.

"The Tragedy of Plato's Apology" (2008) by The Review of Politics 70.04: 519-546.

  • Hunter, Richard. Plato and the traditions of ancient literature: the silent stream. Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Langton, Edward. Essentials of demonology: a study of Jewish and Christian doctrine, its origin and development. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014.
  • McCoy, Marina.
  • Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists. Cambridge University Press, 2007.

  • Russon, John, and Patricia Fagan. "Reexamining Socrates in the Apology." (2009).
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