Socrates was a Greek philosopher in BC years. He has been credited as one of the people who started western philosophy. Socrates is known to have come up with philosophies that do not completely make sense to humans. In fact, he they are sometimes seen as conflicting or a sign that he did not have enough backups for his philosophical claims because he seemed to have more questions than answers regarding certain aspects of life. This article therefore analyzes some of Socrates philosophies and beliefs and how different or same they are from those of other philosophers.
Socrates and Pericles
Socrates did not agree with democracy. He was against the philosophies of democracy that allowed the majority to make decisions, despite how ignorant they may have been regarding the facts upon which they were making decisions. This privilege, according to him, should have been reserved for those who were educated, however few they may be, because they had better chances of making more sound decisions. This therefore means that, according to him, the democratic system is flawed; being that it gives privileges to the undeserving. A democratic government is less likely to do well because it is based on ideas of illiterate and uninformed masses (Airde, 20). He was of the opinion that Pericles did not understand the dangers posed by democracy; that he just liked the fact that at public forums he would get to argue with all sorts of people, whether illiterate or educated, rich or poor. He said that the reason he had withdrawn from politics was because he had come to a realization that a person cannot successfully fight for justice in a democratic place. This person most probably will end up being killed. He said decisions made by a few people are likely to be more positive and developmental than those made by majority.
His sentiments were strongly opposed by Pericles, who was a strong advocator for democracy. Pericles was of the opinion that democracy allows for even better decision making because it involves the exchange of ideas among a vast group of people. He said that Socrates had strongly opposed democracy by simply using opinions and not facts, and even then, these opinions of his did not refute the advantages that Pericles had stated about democracy. In the present day, the only available evidence about Socrates and his take on democracy are found in the writings of Plato, where Socrates allegedly had conversations with other residents of Athens, and they agreed with his opinions. Nowhere do we find any evidence of a government or a unit that has been brought down as a result of democracy that led to the making of bad decisions by the illiterate majority. Therefore, the notions put forward by Socrates, according to Pericles, do not hold water in the current world, since there is no proof of their perceived existence.
The two philosophers also conflicted on their opinions about the people of Athens at that time. He liked the idea that state people would be praised abundantly during their funerals. He praised the orators for having the ability to heap praises on the dead in a manner that was believable to the people who would have attended the funerals. According to him, these orators should have the ability of pleasing friends and strangers to the dead in equal measures. This is especially difficult because, while the friends and family will be very happy to hear good things said about their kin, strangers will have a hard time believing that all the good traits could actually be truly attributed to one person.
Crito and Socrates
Crito came in to give Socrates the opportunity to escape death b execution. According to him, Socrates should not have been persecuted for his opinions, and that his escape would have served as an embarrassment to those who had detained and tried him. In a bid to convince Socrates to follow through with the execution plans, Crito reminded Socrates that he had a family and children who depended on him, and that if he chose to die through this means, he would be leaving his children to face the unfortunate fate of other orphaned children. If Socrates died by prosecution, it would mean, according to Crito, that Socrates was siding with those who were persecuting him.
Socrates refused to follow through with the escape plan, which seemed to have been orchestrated by Crito and his friends (Weiss 45). He said that instead, escaping is actually what would attribute to cowardice. He said that he had meant what he had said at the trial that he was not afraid of death. He said that he detested the idea of mankind acting randomly, as Crito now expected him to, rather than go on with what was planned, which according to him, was to face execution. He claimed that the only opinion that mattered was that of a person who fully understood justice. That the issues that Crito was using to appeal to him such as taking care of his children or looking after his reputation were values harbored by thoughtless men. He was of the opinion that injustice cannot be cured by more injustice. His detention and trial was viewed as injustice, which he could not solve by running away which would amount to more injustice. The issue would cease being whether he had been convicted for having the correct thoughts, and would turn into him having destroyed the city by escaping; that would be unjust. In the end Crito agreed with him that escaping would not be the right option.
Socrates on life after death
Socrates stated various reasons that would support his notion that there was life after death. This he attributed to the fact that the body and the soul were complete opposites of each other. In a dialogue between him and Phaedo on his deathbed, Socrates alleged that that the soul is what cried life, and thus is incapable of dying. The body on the other hand, is able to perish because it is usually subjected to physical death, and is thus mortal. He also believed that human beings are born with some degree of knowledge that they are able to acquire before birth. This is brought about as a result of the soul having existed at this time and thus had carried this knowledge. He was of the opinion that the attributes of mortal and visible aspects of humans are quite different from those that are invisible and immortal. The human body is the former while the soul is the latter. Therefore, when we die, it is only the body that ceases to live but our souls will continue to exist (Gallop 15).
According to Plato, this was the speech that was given by Socrates when he was defending himself against allegations of having corrupted young minds in Athens with his opinions on democracy and belief in the city gods. During his trial, he refuted the two accusations that were leveled against him. One was that he did not believe in the city gods. He said that he actually did believe in them, but only questioned some of their abilities. He was accused of undermining justice, by questioning everything that existed between the earth and the sky. He was known for making the weaker arguments seem stronger (Irvine, 32. He, on the other hand, claimed that these allegations had existed for a long time as a result of gossip and prejudice against him for several years; therefore they were unjustified and difficult for him to argue. He also said that it was unfair for him to be compared to the Sophists who were considered wise and rich, because he had lived a life or abject poverty and had no knowledge of anything good or noble.
In the discussion regarding whether Socrates should be considered a noble citizen, there have been various conflicting facts and arguments. Some people are of the opinion that he should indeed be considered a noble citizen because of his hard-line stands regarding the matters he believed in. this is especially exemplary in the manner in which he handled himself during the time of his trial and conviction, having chosen to die for the things he believed in, because he did not want to commit injustice, despite being handed a golden chance to escape that fate (Smith par 8).
Gallop, David. “Introduction.” Phaedo. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Pg 7- 23. Print
Irvine, Andrew David. Socrates on Trial: A play based on Aristophanes’ Clouds and Plato’s Apology, Crito, and Phaedo, adapted for modern performance. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2008. Print
Smith, Nicole. Three Views of the Model Citizen: Socrates, Antigone, and Oedipus. Articlemyriad. 2014. Print
Weiss, Roslyn. Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato‘s Crito. New York: Oxford University. 1998. Print
Aird, Hamish. Pericles: The Rise and Fall of Athenian Democracy. The Rosen Publishing Group. 2004. Print