Apology by Plato is an argument that defends both he and his master, Socrates’, way of thinking and looking at the world and records his masters last argument in defense of philosophy. At the time this work was created, Socrates was under persecution by many for blasphemy. This piece is significant because, rather than contest his persecutors claims that he is not all knowing, Socrates humbles himself by saying that he is ignorant when compared to all that he has left to learn.
Socrates further reinforces this appearance of himself by admitting that he his not skilled in the art of oration and as a result his words should not be judged on their presentation but rather their meaning. In doing so Socrates efficiently dismantles his persecutors arguments that he is self-righteous and a liar and forces his jurors to decide for themselves what is the truth and what is not. Being that this is a work written by Plato rather than his master Socrates it is possible for the reader to see how Socrates and his way of Philosophical thinking inspires those who have a thirst for knowledge.
It is because of this that many of Socrates’s persecutors believed him to be a dangerous man. This is made apparent with one of the accusations made. This accusation claimed that Socrates charged his students for the opportunity to expand their mind. This was most likely done to dissuade future student from following in the path of this great philosopher. To this Socrates replied “As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take money; this accusation has no more truth in it than the other.
Although, if a man were really able to instruct mankind, to receive money for giving instruction would, in my opinion, be an honour to him. (2)” What this quote his saying is that Socrates never believed he as a teacher of philosophy should not ask his students for money in exchange for knowledge, however if they wanted to pay him then that would be acceptable because the pursuit of a higher understanding is in itself an invaluable commodity. With this line f logic Socrates was able to shed the stigma that he was a greedy man. Socrates then goes on to defend himself further by addressing another accusation that has been lobbied against since he has taken up his work. This accusation states that Socrates teaches his students the art of clever argument, and in doing so teaches them the art of twisting any argument into a more favorable meaning. This is likely done to discredit anything he can say to defend himself and, makes the Jury suspicious of him from the very start.
Socrates defends himself well stating that in order for him to be able to teach such an art he must be first be as eloquent at the people who are persecuting him. What his interesting about this defense of Socrates is that he effectively takes the accusation that was lobbied against him and turned upon the very people who are trying to discredit him. Although Socrates frequently argues that he his not a wise man, just a man with questions and that he is not eloquent in his way of speaking, for him to come up with such a defense shows that he is selling himself a little short.