Socrates, an Athenian philosopher who lived from 469 BC until his very unnecessary death in 399 BC, has had his wisdom called into question many times since he has been studied. But to know whether some is wise, we must first know what it means to be wise. According to Websters Dictionary, to be is wise is : (1) having or showing good judgment; (2) informed; (3) learned; (4) shrewd amd cunning. From this definition, it is clear to me that Socrates was wise in every aspect of the word.
He shows this wisdom while on trial for his life. Socrates was charged with “corrupting the youth of Athens” and “not believing in the gods the states believes in, but in new spiritual being” (Plato, 3). In ancient Greece, judicial proceedings could be initiated by any citizen, and in Socrates’ case, Meletus was the initiator. These charges were brought to a trial that was presided over by the king Archon. The number of jurors, who were randomly assigned to different courts on different days was 500 free citizens of Athens.
The large amount of jurors was, in part, to stop the attemt of bribing the jury, because after all, who could bribe 500 people, or even 251? They sat in a big theater and listened to the accuser make a speech, then the defendant. During Socrates’ (defendant) speech, he proved him own innocence while showing his wisdom, which would have made me, if a juror, vote for him to live. Ross 2 While defending his life infront of the jury and all others present the day of his trial, Socrates managed to prove that he was.
He did so by simply stating that the Oracle of Delphi claimed Socrates to be the “wisest of all men. ” Though this would not have been a direct showcasing of his wisdom, the fact that the revered Oracle of Delphi stated that Socrates was wise, was reason enough to believe that he is in fact wise. People came from all over Greece and beyond to see the Oracle of Delphi to have their questions about the future answered by the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo (Greek god of prophecy, music, poety, light and dance).
Her answers, mostly cryptic, could determine the course of anything, from when a farmer planted his seeds, to when a empire declared war. Given the Oracles reputation, I would believe that Socrates is wise if stated by the Pythia at the Oracle of Delphi. Another way that Socrates showed his wisdom is when he explained how the politicians, poets, and craftsmen were not wise, though they were pressumed to be so. The first group that he went to was the politicians. Socrates proved that the politicians were unwise, including those with the greatest reputations.
The second group that Socrates investigated was the craftsmen, and again, Socrates proved them to be unwise, though they were knowledgable in their respective trades. Lastly, Socrates went to the poets, who he again proved unwise, though they were the recipients of inspiration. To prove these people unwise, Socrates used a method of questioning that is now known as the Socratic Method. He would first ask for a thesis or definition, then by asking questions he would establish premises his victim agrees with until he could come to conclusion that contradicts the thesis or definition.
Through this method, Socrates proved these three groups to be unwise, and also proved that he was wise through presenting the absolute truth. Socrates also used the Socratic Method while defending himself against Meletus’ accusations in court. A third example of how Socrates demonstrates his wisdom is when he introduces the case of horses while defending himself from Meletus’ accusation of corrupting the youth of Athens. Socrates questions Meletus: Ross 3 Then it would seem that the whole population of Athens has a refining effect upon the young, except for myself, and I alone have demoralized them. Is that your meaning? Most emphatically, yes. This is certainly a most unfortunate quality that you have detected in me. Well, let me put another question to you. Take the case of horses. Do you believe that those who improve them make up the whole of mankind, and that there is only one person who has a bad effect on them?
Or is the truth just opposite, that the ability to improve them belongs to one person or to very few, who are horse trainers, whereas most people, if they have to do with horse and make use of them, do them harm? ”(Plato, 11). In this excerpt of Plato’s Apology, Socrates question method, the Socratic Method, is shown. Socrates presents Meletus with a thesis which Meletus agrees with, and then Socrates proves it wrong. By using the case of horses, Socrates proves to Meletus that like all other citizens of Athens, Socrates is a good influence on the youth.
Socrates, yet again possessing the truth in this situation, demonstrates his wisdom through his skillful speech that “others fear. ” Another way in which Socrates shows his wisdom, and gains my vote for innocent, is through simple things he says to the jury during his trial. He tells them that he knows that the jury is biased, and that he already expects to loose. Near the end of his speech, Socrates also states “you would have liked to hear me weep and wail, doing and saying all sorts of things which I regard as unworthy of myself, but which you are used to hearing from other people. Through saying these things, Socrates again shows how he possess the absolute truth. Socrates wisdom is clearly shown in Plato’s Apology, while he is on trial for his life. He shows his wisdom by stating that the Oracle of Delphi claimed he is wise, by showing how is a skillful speaker and that he possess the truth on many situations and events brought up in the court room. Through displaying these characteristics, and with the evidence presented on his behalf, I would have voted for Socrates to live.
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Was Socrates Wise?. (2017, Mar 23). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/was-socrates-wise/