Having emphasized upon me the advantages of democracy, I have always believed that it is the best system to implement in a country. Ignoring the flaws and weaknesses of this type of system, I thought that the benefits outweigh all costs. I assume that giving the power to the people is better than having one person rule the state. However, in Plato’s account on the life of his mentor Socrates, we are able to see both sides of the spectrum: the pros and cons of democracy which are accounted in Plato’s dialogues, the Apology and the Crito.
Socrates, having been accused of impiety, is brought to trial in front of the jury of Athens. In his defense, he points out the flaws of a democratic system, but he has an underlying intention to improve it. Thus, despite his criticisms on the use of rhetoric, involvement in politics, and the opinions of the majority, Socrates generally takes a pro-democracy approach on his purpose of being in Athens, the importance of examining truth and life, and the significance of respecting the law. Socrates is known in Athens for his dialectic approach of questioning and examining the ideas of the people.
He has unintentionally annoyed many Athenian citizens which has made him infamous. This has led other people, such as Meletus, to press charges against him. In his defense, Socrates sets himself apart from others who bring their family and friends as a kind of an appeal to the jurymen. Through tears and emotional plea, they beg to be acquitted. However, Socrates does not intend to present such acts as he places greater significance to his, the jury’s, and the city’s reputations. He considers it shameful to try to win approval through emotional appeal rather than the truth as it brings dishonor to the city (37).
Justice & Fairness When a person commits a crime, many people call for him to be brought to justice. To many people, it means punishment. If a person commits murder, some say he should be brought to justice by having to serve a long prison sentence or even face the death penalty. Probably the best definition of justice is fair treatment of people. It is primarily used in law, but it can also ...
Socrates points out then that it is the role of a juryman not to acquit someone who seems favorable, but “to judge according to Reusi 2 law… [which] he has sworn to do” (37).
It is the jury’s responsibility to give verdict based on truth and logic. Through the oath that they have taken, the jurymen have pledged to accept this duty; therefore, to favor someone is against the law. Socrates criticizes how the public has taken advantage of the use of rhetoric to win arguments in any way possible; such as appealing to emotions which has dominated and influenced the community and its decisions.
These statements highlight the nti-democratic notion of Socrates; he reproaches the majority of the citizens who have based their judgments on faulty premises. Moreover, he connotes that it is more important to listen to the persuasive arguments of “the one” that uses truth and logic, rather than the pathetic acts of “the many”. However, beneath the criticisms, Socrates tries to enlighten the members of the jury, who have a stake at public decisions, of their purposes as jurymen of the state. He reminds them of their sworn duties, and encourages them not to give in to emotional appeal, as this per se is an attack to democracy and to the law that makes the city.
Additionally, Socrates explains to the jury why despite his continuous efforts to meddle on personal matters, he has never pursued on occupying political positions. This, he says, is due to the “spiritual” (34) voice that speaks to him only when he is about to do something he is not supposed to do. He believes that if he had taken part in politics, he would not have survived through the years, because he would debate against the authority or the public, and stop the unlawful actions in the state (34).
Socrates upholds that “a man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life if he is to survive for even a short time” (34).
He points out that in order to live a just and peaceful life, it is better for a man to stay away from “public” activities where unlawful events usually take place. It is more important to live a “private” life, “fight[ing] for justice” at its core by dealing in “private affairs” (34).
They are not only entertainment for us, but also the way of expressing our thoughts and exchanging them through time and space. As the thoughts are often different, the art is so varied. So every nation has its own art with specific features. I wish to speak about British arts. In fact the position of the arts in Britain may be described as a mixture of public apathy and private enthusiasm. The ...
Reusi 3 Socrates is considered as taking an anti-democratic stand when he has chosen not to get involved with the government, considering that the government is the people.
Yet, he implies that the people would not favor anyone that opposes injustice which seems to be the common dealings in politics. He believes that he would “have died long ago” (34), although this is not his ultimate concern. What he truly cares about is “not to do anything unjust or impious” (32).
Despite his criticisms on politics, Socrates is essentially reminding the people, especially those in authority, to serve a just and virtuous life. Outwardly stating the current situation of the government, he aims to provide the people a portrait of the shallow kind of democracy that they have come to maintain.
Socrates seeks to prompt the majority to uphold the true sense of democracy, of fighting for justice and living life accordingly. Furthermore, Socrates uses his dialectical approach with his friend Crito in examining the contrast between the knowledge of “the one” and the pseudo-knowledge of “the many”. He uses an analogy of a man involved in physical activities, whom must listen to the advice of the true expert in his training, rather than the opinions thrown by other people who barely know anything about these activities.
Anyone who places a higher regard to the thoughts of the majority, rather than to the knowledge of the one who possess it, puts himself on greater “harm” (47).
Socrates adds that if we disobey the one who seeks to improve us, “we shall harm and corrupt that part of ourselves that is improved by just actions and destroyed by unjust actions” (48).
This is antidemocratic in a way that it explicitly denotes the greater relevance of “the one” as opposed to the false opinions of “the many”.
Democracy is based upon the judgment of the majority; however, if they collectively agree on faulty decisions, it brings destruction to the state and corruption to its citizens. As Socrates puts it, “we should not then think so much of what the majority will say about us, but what he will say who understands justice and injustice, the one, that is, and the truth Reusi 4 itself” (48).
Review of The Power Broker By Robert Caro Robert Moses was one of the most powerful and influential men in 20 th century New York. He held sway in both the City and State. From Mayors to Presidents were beholden to him at one time or another. He could be magnanimous at one point and ruthless at another. He started his career in government trying to end corruption and ended his career with his own ...
Despite his arguments, he suggests that the majority learns to listen to the one who possess true wisdom, so as to strengthen the grounds of democracy.
The united opinions of the many can be given greater significance when it is based on the wisdom of the one who seeks “to improve” the city. In spite of the anti-democracy view of Socrates regarding rhetoric, politics, and the majority, he presents a pro-democratic stand on his true purpose of being in Athens. He addresses the jury that it would be a mistake to condemn him since he has been brought to the city of Athens according to the god’s will. He compares himself to a “gadfly” that tries to wake the “great and noble horse” that has become inactive and lazy (33).
This, Socrates believes, is his purpose for being placed in the city by the god. He “never [ceases] to rouse each and every one” of the citizens, to convince and to criticize them all the time (33).
In this passage, Socrates shows how much he cares for the city as he, a “gadfly”, tries to motivate the “noble” city of Athens to reach its full potential. By this, Socrates expresses a pro-democratic attitude as he believes that by his consistent approach to its citizens, he hopes to keep the city active, knowing that it has many capabilities that have not been fully developed.
Moreover, Socrates states that he will continue to follow the god rather than the demands of the public for him to cease his quest of constant dialectic. He adds that with every Athenian he meets, Socrates would cross-examine him. He would denote that by being a citizen of the “noblest” city with high regards for both “wisdom and power”, it is a shameful thing to put such high importance on material possessions and status while disregarding “wisdom or truth, or the best possible state of [the] soul” (32).
He would reprimand those who were proven to value superficial things instead of the more important ones.
Socrates maintains that “the unexamined life is not worth living for men” (39).
He motivates the citizens to examine the truth and virtue Reusi 5 as he affirms that “the most important thing is not life, but the good life” (48).
Words: 1246International Baccalaureate English 11 Period 19 January 2006Natural Law and State Law in AntigoneIn Antigone, one of the meanings Sophocles presents is State Law versus Natural Law which do not always agree. Sophocles uses characterization to show the conflict between the two ideas. State Law is defined as a translation of Natural Law into “concrete norms governing peoples and nations” ...
This is very prodemocratic in a sense that the city aims to accomplish this highest form of living, which can be achieved only if each citizen is able to reflect upon himself, and realize his own way of living. He stresses the importance of not indulging oneself with material desires, but focusing only on the “best possible state of [the] soul” (32).
Once every citizen is able to live a life worthy of the “noble” city of Athens can the city fully establish a strong democracy that highlights “wisdom”, justice, and “truth” (32).
Lastly, in Crito’s attempt to persuade Socrates to escape the city and his death, Socrates has emphasized the significance of respecting the law. He imagines being faced by the law, ordering him that he must either convince his city according to what is just, or submit himself in any given circumstance in accord to the position assigned to him by his country (51).
Therefore, it is wicked to bring harm to one’s own country even “after being wronged not by… the law, but by men” (54).
Socrates is sentenced to death because of the decision of the majority, but not of the law. He uses the law to represent the entire city, for the law makes and embodies the ideals of the state. His notion is pro-democratic as he expresses his respect for the decrees that ultimately establishes the democratic system of Athens. Despite being persecuted by men, he still considers the law as just and equitable.
When we divert from the true purpose of a system, the costs are as significant as the benefits. Plato’s account of Socrates enables us to have a two-way view on democracy in considering both its advantages and disadvantages. Underlying his criticisms to certain aspects of this system is Socrates’ greater pursuit to improve and develop the state.