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The value of Socrates.

The value of Socrates.

What does Socrates care about? In other words, what does Socrates value and why? Be sure to include a discussion of the laws in your response. What, if anything, does Mill’s Greatest Happiness Principle have to do with Socrates’s position?

A number of the dialogues of Plato recount the examination, expression, and functionality of Socrates, as well as his very good good friends compiled about. An image of the man emerges from these dialogues showing him to be a person of fierce integrity, a man who would rather die than consider himself dishonored, and a man who charges his friends to allow him to live life as he sees fit. Even as Socrates challenges aspects of the society of Athens, he demonstrates the importance of certain values in that society both in his own person and even in the charges brought against him, however incorrect those charges may be. Portions of Socrates’s trial are presented in The Apology. Socrates speaks to his friends after he has been condemned and while in prison awaiting execution in The Crito. Athenian society is shown in these dialogues to be a society based on law, dedicated to the pursuit of philosophy and ethical inquiry, and concerned about passing its ideals from one generation to the next. While society may be unfair to Socrates, he shows that he has learned the lessons of that society in terms of integrity and ethical behavior. Socrates does not change his view of his own duty not to break the law between The Apology and The Crito, for even thouugh he has been unjustly accused and knows he is not guilty, he still accepts the judment of the court and refuses to flee when given teh opportunity.

In their conventional job, The Republic, Plato positions forth a succinct description of proper rights which can be regarded rather counterintuitive these days. He argues that justice in both the state and the individual is basically “minding one’s own business”, or performing the function for which one is best suited and not interfering with others doing the same. This essay will explore why Plato thinks this is the case and how his definition is different from most people’s idea of justice today.

Plato begins by saying that the ideal state must have the four traditional virtues of wisdom, courage, self-discipline and justice. Furthermore, he argues, the first three qualities are present in the state because they are present in the individual citizens of the state. In other words, because the Guardians are wise and the Auxiliaries are brave, the state is thereby both wise and brave. The state can be said to have self-discipline insofar as there is agreement among the three classes (Guardians, Auxiliaries, and businessmen), about who should rightfully rule. Having identified these three virtues within the state, Plato concludes that whatever quality is left over without a label must be the quality which makes the others possible: justice.

The Apology will be the document of Socrates to the the courtroom that finally phrases him to passing away. The speech represents the conflict between the power of the state and the integrity of the individual. The court gives Socrates an out if he recants his teachings, and he will not do it. Socrates represents the primary social value of inquiry, of the pursuit of philosophy, of the examination of the meaning of life. He also represents integrity, for when we inquire into the meaning of existence and develop a set of beliefs, we must live up to those beliefs. The trial and subsequent execution of the great philosopher Socrates has long puzzled academics and historians. We will first briefly examine the case against Socrates, and then speculate as to what would occur if he were to be tried in court today.

Socrates was neither a democrat nor an egalitarian. He did not believe that democracy was an efficient or laudable form of governance. Rather, he believed that citizens lacked the basic virtue that was necessary to build and nurture a good society. He eagerly criticized the foundations of Athenian democracy, deriding the fact that every citizen of that proud city had the right to speak in the Assembly. When the Athenian democracy was briefly overthrown twice by some of SocratesÆ ex-pupils, the philosopher lost much of his standing in the city (Linder).

In Athens, unlawful process can be named to get by any occupant. SocratesÆ trial began when the poet Meletus delivered an oral summons for Socrates to appear before the magistrate, King Archon. The magistrate questioned both men and gave each the opportunity to question the other. Then, having decided that the MeletusÆ accusation had merit, the magistrate drew up formal charges that accused Socrates of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state, of introducing new divinities, and of corrupting the youth. The actual trial took nine hours; the jury consisted of 500 citizens over the age of thirty chosen by lot and there was no judge (Mahon).

It is really not recognized if the demo focused much more about SocratesÆ impiety or his alleged political criminal offenses. What appears certain is that SocratesÆ defense was decidedly unapologetic, and that he refused to make the appeal for mercy that was typically made to Athenian juries. When the trial came to an end, the jurors rendered their decision by putting ballot disks into one of two marked urns. In PlatoÆs Republic, the philosophical question of justice arises between Socrates and Glaucon.1 Glaucon suggests three categories of justice and posits that justice is just a manmade convention that humans practice because it is to their advantage to do so. He and Socrates come to an agreement that that justice is both good in itself as well as for the good that comes out of it, included in the category in which ôthe man who is going to be blessed should like both for itself and for what comes out of itö (358a). However, they differ on whether justice produces happiness merely because it is inherently good or because it produces corollary benefits. Glaucon believes that people only practice justice when it serves them and produces consequences that they like; everyone would be just if justice benefited them, he feels, but if it didnÆt they would not act justly. PlatoÆs own belief is that justice is more than just a human convention; it has an absolute reality of goodness of its own and should be pursued even if the consequences are not personally advantageous. The difference between these two views is characterized by a concomitant difference in vantage point; Glaucon sees the issue from the perspective of personal gain or loss, while Plato sees it from outside that realm in the sphere of absolute truths. Clearly, an absolute truth is more viable and defensible than a personal interest, and that is what this paper will prove: that justice is a higher order than personal advantage and as such must be adhered to regardless of the consequences to self, and further, that happiness is associated with acting justly whether one receives a reward for justice or not.