Plato, Socrates, and “Justice”

Many of Plato’s dialogues involving Socrates are set near the end of Socrates’ life.  What the lecture didn’t get to is that Socrates was accused of “corrupting the young people” of Athens.  Essentially, Athenians of power and prestige accused Socrates of trying to destroy the minds and virtues of young people by filling their heads full of questions.  The trial and subsequent execution of Socrates are the backdrop behind many of the dialogues in your book.

The “Apology” is Socrates’ defense of his actions, given during his trial.  It contains his argument concerning what “philosophy” is supposed to do.

The “Crito” is a dialogue between Socrates and a friend over the nature of “justice”, prompted when Socrates refuses Crito’s offer to help him escape from prison.

In a comment below, deal with on of these dialogues by answering one of the respective questions:

  1. What do you think of Socrates’ argument that he should be given a pension?
  2. Do you think Socrates’ conception of “justice” is appropriate?  Or, is it too idealistic?
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19 responses to “Plato, Socrates, and “Justice”

  1. 1) I don’t think the “jury” should because there are many indictments towards him and if he can not say that he did not do them, then how are they to know that if they give him a pension that he would not use it for something related to what he is there for.
    2) I think it is too idealistic because it speaks of too many various things that can be justifiable or not. Can be taken and used many ways that he may have not intended it to be so.

  2. 1) Socrates was very good at bullying and minipulating people to believe what he believed. I think that he told the jury they should be getting a pension to get a rise out of the jury and to not back down because he knew that if he would have changed the way he acted to not get the death sentence then he would
    show everyone that he was afraid of death and show that he was wrong and he was not about to be preved wrong
    2) It is definately to idealistic it doesn’t sete enough boundries and things you can and cannot do therefore many people will disagree what things really mean

  3. I think that the judges in the court should give socrates pension. If i was having to be in there, listening to him go on about how i was the evil wrong doer, i’d probably be greatly annoyed. But killing him off would probably be followed by heavy consequences. I admit he is very good at making the court look incompetent, hypocritical, and closed minded, but i would think that would just make them more upset. He’s pleading his case, but hes not helping it. He makes great points, i definjitely dont think death is a good punishment. Its over the top. But a pension would hopefully just kind of shut him up for awhile and get him off everyone’s backs.

  4. i think that if he could prove his teachings then yes, he should of been givin money for what he proved. So if he proved that it was true and his work was right. Then i think he should of got money since he did prove his work to be right. I dont think he deserved the right death. I think if he was to be killed, they should of just done it instead of making him do something himself. It was doubtful that he should of been there in the first place, and didnt deserve to death of something that extreme.

  5. Socrates’ agruement for a pension is two-folded. Why should Socrates not be given a pension? Most already assume he receives money from his conversations that he has with the youth of Athens–Socrates then can go live out the rest of his life still fulling what he sees as his duties in the society. In addition, to grant Socrates this pension the society as a whole will be able to keep a watchful eye on him and know what he does when he is around the Athenian youth. In the end, Socrates talks about giving the Athenians the reality of the situation–thinking about reality how much longer would a seventy year old man last in that time period? Therefore, how long would the society have to deal with Socrates? The reality that sets in is fear of the unexpected–the Athenians did not look at the big picture, but only concerned themselves with the now. Therefore, listening to the few they agreed that the problem of Socrates should be that of death. This only exterminates the main problem, but those who admired Socrates will keep him alive in their philosophy of thinking.

  6. 1) I think Socrates either thought he really should have been given a pension, or, knowing he was already going to lose the biased trial, he decided to be sarcastic. I personally, if I knew I was on the losing end of an already decided trial, would try to find a bit of humour while I could. But that being said, I think even if he was being sarcastic, he probably did think he deserved the pension. He might have been given the pension if he had been around 100 years later.

    2) I think his conception of justice is too ideal. It’s something that looks good on paper, but wouldn;t work correctly when put into a real life situation. It’s like communisim, it sounds good, but it really wouldn’t, nor could it ever, work. Humans are just too flawed. We are imperfect, everyone of us. I think the concepts that Socrates dismisses [later on in the book] are more accurate, and if you take a bit of each, you can have a better working concept. Granted not all the other conceots are all that ‘just’ I suppose.

  7. Socrates does not think he is guilty of anything. I do not think he should be given a pension. He says he is not a Sophist, yet Sophists make money. Why should he be given a pension if he is not a Sophist? I think he might have had a better argument if he had not spoken so much; but, it was not in his nature to do so.

  8. Should Socrates have been given a pension? Well, he could have been given a pension. I mean he taught people about philosopy and everything, but he did it for free. And if people actually left him with their heads full of information then they learned something. People should get paid for that. But the issue is, would Socrates have accepted the pension if it was offered? He thought he didn’t know anything, so he wasn’t really teaching anyone anything, he was telling what he thought, which was basically what he knew. But then again, during his defense speech in court, he was being condescending and rude to the people, so they probably wouldn’t have offered him a pension to begin with. Shutting up now, just rambling on.

  9. 1) I believe that Socrates arguement that he should be given a pension is miss placed. I do agree that he was being wrongly accused and that He did put up a good arguement with a lot of proof to back him up, but it did not help the fact that he was going to be convicted anyways and when he asked for a pension that was one of the worst things that he could have done. His situation was all ready bad and when he asked for a pension it just made it worse.

    2) Socrates idea of justice seems appropriate, but it would take a very strong man to do it. Socrates situation is very similar to that of Jesuses. Jesus was wrongly accused of blaspheme and was sentenced to die on the cross. He did not have to go through with it, but he did it to honor his father. That would have been tough to do. I think it would be unfair for some one to be unjustly accused, but then again I think it would be wrong at the same time to escape prison. So if I were in that situation I would hope that I would put all my trust in God that he would protect me in what ever the outcome was. So in conclusion I believe that Socrates idea of justice is appropriate to todays society, but I think that it would be a tough thing to do.

  10. I don’t think he should be given a pension but I also don’t think they should have killed them. He makes some pretty good points. I don’t think he should be charged with corrupting the youth because if his ideas did not make sense why would people fallow his teachings. Secondly I think that his idea of justice is correct because of his position today. Now he is remembered as an innocent man and we have somewhat of a dislike for the people who charged him. So his idea of justice which maybe at the time he didn’t see the results but it worked out for him in the end.

  11. 2) I think Socrates conception of justice is pretty fair. It is a little idealistic but not impossible. The argument he makes against him escaping prison is practically flawless. There’s a lot of truth in it. Of course, in today’s times, not many people view the government in that light, but for socrates, he did have 70 years to leave and he didnt. He didnt have complaints before with how or who ran the state.

  12. I think that Socrates came into the court with the wrong idea. He came into the court with the the thought that he would prove the court wrong. But he couldnt change their thoughts. Asking for the pensin was like the iceing on the cake. After that i would think the trial became a joke.
    2. I think his idea of justice is not to far off from his view on life. He could not escape or that would make him the biggest hippocrit in the world. He would have went against everything he lived for if he would have escaped.

  13. Trenton Beckinger

    1) I believe the phrase is ” full of yourself.” If you go around telling people they’re stupid, especially people in power, they will want to harm you in some way. Perhaps, this is why he asked for the pension, because as he stated he was going to be convicted anyways. Any person can say “I don’t know, how about you?” I guess Socrates was the only one who did it though, but usually the outcast isn’t given what he wants.

    2) He made some very good points when explaining why he would not try to escape prison. Maybe he couldn’t prove his ideas to be right, but who could prove him wrong? It depends on the person as to whether or not his idea of justice was too idealistic, but I believe that it was appropriate.

  14. 1. It all boils down to what people wanted to hear. Most of that society was afraid to go beyond their own knowledge. A pension for Socrates would result in him expressing his thoughts to everyone, with the consent of those in power. And if he had that consent, no one would object to, or question his words. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with his ways of earning this pension. Insulting positions of power, then requesting money from those same people. But the request in general, wasn’t all that absurd.

  15. I think Socrates asking for pension was just to push everyone over the edge. He already knew he was going to be convicted and that death awaited him. His asking for a pension when he knew he was not going to get one just shows how highly he thought of himself. It just set the court off anymore, which is what Socrates was known for, making people mad.

    Socrates’ concept of justice is appropriate for that time period. He knows that escaping would make him an outlaw and that is frowned upon by all people. His life after death would be bad because the people in the underworld did not like outlaws. His being unjust towards the law was like being unjust towards a parent, and that was just not right.

  16. 1. Its hard to put yourself it the socrates place because societies views have majorly changed in the many centuries since this trial. Now a pension would definately be given but I see both sides in the trail. The citizens of Athens did believe socrates was corrupting the youth and the death sentence was the best solution at the time. But if I was in his situation I would ask for a pension. I would just be nicer to the jury that was condeming me for my punishment.
    2. Socrates form of “Justice” was idealistic because people have many different views, so “Justice” would not common amongst a group of people.

  17. 1.) I think Socrates thought he was something else. He thought he was right about everything. Personally if someone said I should pay them rather than punich them that would just make me want to punish them more.

    2.) I think his conception of “justice” is appropriate. Whether he escapes or awaits his execution he realizes he is still going to be punished. If he escapes he will be an outlaw and not welcome in any of the other cities. Second he will be frowned upon in the underworld for going against his city’s laws. If he stays he will be executed which he feels is the just thing to do.

  18. 1. Socrates seems like the kind of person who will talk until he gets what he wants. He already figured that he will be condemned so he tried to get as much as he could. I think if he was able to convince the narrow minded senate that he was right then he deserves a pension, but until then he deserves nothing.
    2. His idea of justice is very idealistic but it was what he believed. Everyone has a different views of justice. Everyone could not do what he did.

  19. Daniel Hettinger

    1. I believe that it was a last effort to show he thought so much higher of himself then he did the government. He knew that he had a punishment coming to him. I find it very admirable that even with death as a punishment for his thoughts he still did not back down.

    2. I believe his view is appropriate. He knew what he had coming to him by teaching beliefs that contradicted those of the governments. He had punishment coming to him and he knew it. Not escaping just further showed how strong and set he was on his beliefs.

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