Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived in Athens between 469-399 B.C. One of his apprentices is famous philosopher known as Plato. However, it is supposed that Socrates did not leave any writings after his death. Information about this philosophy is retrieved from the works written by scholars such as Xenophon and Aristophanes. During his teachings, Socrates refused to accept any form of payment from all his students. This is because he argued that a person should not be judged as successful in the society due to the material wealth that they possessed (Soccio, 2012). Some philosophers argue that Socrates neglected his own affairs. He spent most of his time talking about virtue, piety and justice instead of concentrating on his personal life. Historians appreciate the work done by this philosopher since he is known for inventing the Socratic dialogue. In this form of dialogue, a tutor draws knowledge from his students by asking them a series of questions and investigating the answers given by them. One of the greatest claims that this philosopher put forward was that a person does not commit a wrongful act when he/she knows that this act will bring harm to the society.
Apology: Examined Life
Plato describes the speech that Socrates made while defending himself against the charges of corrupting minds of young people in the society. In addition, Socrates was accused of not believing in the gods that all the people in Athens believed in. The main accusers who charged Socrates were Anytus, Meletus and Lycon. Consequently, their names appeared in this Apology. During this trial, Socrates stated that he believed in the gods but he questioned about their ability of performing the things that they claimed to do in the society (Russo and Fagan 2009). In the Apology, Socrates made the statement the unexamined life is not worth living. The jurors told him that they wanted him to stop philosophizing but he refused since he argued that philosophy defined his life. According to Socrates, the examined life should concentrate on wisdom defined by curiosity, fighting for the truth at all times, as well as having spiritual wisdom and living a philosophical life.
Socratic examined life should be based on true wisdom that is mainly inspired by curiosity. According to Socrates, nobody is born wise. He also argued that there is no one who has all the knowledge about the world. This is the main reason why Socrates spent most of his time asking people questions since he believed that he would become wiser owing to his curiosity. He claimed that the wisdom that he had gained throughout his life was mainly caused by the fact that he always examined the life of other people and his own experience. Socrates compared himself with others and concluded that he was wiser compared to the majority in the society. He stated that he was wiser since he knew nothing while other people believed that they knew everything despite the fact that they actually were scarcely enlightened (Russon & Fagan, 74). In Plato’s Apology, he defended himself by stating that knowledge is not true wisdom. He specified that the fact that individuals thought that they had all the knowledge in the world did not actually mean that these people were wise. He also added that the knowledge gained by normal people in the society did not mean that they would automatically get examined life. He also told the jurors that were described in Plato’s Apology that he would rather remain the same as he was, having neither ignorance nor knowledge, than be like the wise people who did not have knowledge and were full of ignorance.
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The above analysis on Socrates’s true wisdom shows that people should be curious in order to live examined lives. It means that a person should not concentrate on what he/she knows but what he/she ought to know. Curiosity will enable people to make new discoveries to help them improve their lives. In addition, they will be able to accept their weaknesses and look for new ways to become stronger. Many philosophers have supported the importance of curiosity in the human life. It makes the minds of all people be active instead of being passive. This helps in improving the critical thinking. Scholars also argue that curiosity helps to bring excitement into the life of a person. When a person practices curiosity, he/she will always have new things to think about in his/her life (Navia, 2007). This makes curious people live advantageous lives. Curiosity also helps a person to be aware of the things that might affect him in the future. Interested people always focus on possibilities that might concern them in the future.
People should always fight for the truth in order to ensure that they lived examined lives
Despite all firm arguments, the jury decided that Socrates was guilty. However, Socrates did not think that he did anything wrong and he was therefore not ready to accept the fact that he was guilty of committing a crime against society. The jury found that Socrates was guilty after the votes stood at 280 against 221 (Johnson, 2011). The philosopher said that he was only surprised by this figure since he expected that the margin would be higher than it actually was. Meletus, one of the accusers whose name is present in Plato’s Apology, suggested that Socrates should be given a death penalty for all the crimes that he committed. The other jurors suggested that Socrates should give himself an alternative penalty that he would like to pay. Socrates claimed that he should be given a reward for the good things that he had done to the society and for the truth that he aimed to fight for. The Wiseman argued that he should be given an opportunity of dining in the Prytaneum. He claimed that this reward would be the most appropriate thing that the jurors offered him since he deserved recognition like the Athens’s Olympic heroes. The jurors also told Socrates to publicly declare that he had given up philosophizing. However, Socrates refused arguing that he could not give up philosophizing since it helped him to pursue the goodness that he had. In addition, he argued that through philosophizing, he was able to practice the will of God. Socrates fought for several truths. He always believed that citizens should not concentrate on their personal ambitions. He urged all people should concentrate on achieving moral perfection and mental perfection instead. The philosopher claimed that the jury should have given him a heroic treatment since he always tried to show reality about the common issues in life. According to Navia (2007), “While heroic feats might allow us to admire and bask in perfection, Socrates teaching allows us to strive for perfection ourselves.”
While Socrates was under trial, he revealed to the jurors that all the things that he did were just, thus, he should not be condemned for fighting for the truth. He stated that his strong moral principles were the ones that made him not charge any fee for the teachings that he offered to the people in the society. He also added that he was always free to share anything that was in his mind since he wanted people to know that he always aimed at fighting for the truth (Johnson, 2011). He also claimed that the main reason people flocked to him was that they enjoyed his cross-examinations since they revealed many things that were hidden in the society.
After Socrates stated his argument, people expected that he would be disillusioned and sad since he had failed to convince the jury. Besides, people thought that Socrates would be begging for forgiveness from the jury so that they do not give him a harsh penalty but he did not do this since he knew that he was innocent. He did not mention the names of his family members in his trial in order to move the hearts of the jurors or the people who were witnessing the judicial process (Russon & Fagan, 2009). He argued that he would not use his three sons who were witnessing the trial since this would be shameful and irrelevant. Socrates reasoned that this would be like requesting the jury to consider irrelevant facts in his case that did not show any truth. Moreover, the thinker felt that if he used his sons he would force the jury to break their oath of being impartial and just while judging a particular case.
The above analysis shows that Socrates believed that fighting for the truth at all times defines whether a person lived an examined life. Although Socrates was told to choose a lighter penalty for the crimes he was accused of committing, he did not choose any of it. He said that he did not deserve to be punished since he had not committed any misdemeanor. He believed that he was only telling the truth to the public and he did not deserve any punishment because of this. Fighting for the truth in the society is important due to several reasons (Soccio, 2012). It helps to expose the vices that may be present in the community. Such vices include fraud that might be prevalent among top officials. In addition, it helps to bring equality in the society since strong people will not oppress weak individuals.
People should seek spiritual wisdom in order to live examined lives.
People who consider spiritual wisdom important always believe in life after death. This makes them engage in good deeds since they know that they will receive eternal life in heaven. Socrates believed that all people in the society should consider living like good neighbors in order to have eternal life (Navia, 2007). When people live like good neighbors, they will always take care of the disabled people. Furthermore, they will feed poor people so that they do not go to sleep hungry. People who want to seek spiritual wisdom should also try to live in accordance with teachings that are outlined in the Sacred Scripture. The Scripture requires that all people should follow 10 Commandments in order to ensure that they live in harmony with God and with their neighbors. It will help in ensuring that people do not steal from their neighbors. Hence, people will not commit adultery or take life of another person because the Scripture condemns such acts. Parables that are contained in the Holy Bible also help people to overcome the challenges that may affect them in their lives. In addition, by reading the scriptures people are able to know that the challenges that they face today were also common in the past. It encourages people to become strong while facing scabrous problems. Scriptures also contain inspirational quotes that people can read when they face emotional difficulties. An example of emotional challenges that may affect people includes depression after a major accident or stress brought about by the hardships that are common in life.
Divine nature – another important source of spiritual wisdom
Some philosophers argue that since God is divine and he was responsible for creating all human beings, people should reciprocate this by living a pious life. People should only engage in good deeds in order to live a devout life. Examples of good deeds include caring for the environment by avoiding any form of environmental pollution. In addition, people should also concentrate on telling the truth in order to assume the divine nature. Although lies may seem as the only option that people should adopt in order to escape the challenges that may suddenly appear in their life, it is not appropriate to lie since this does not amount to spiritual wisdom. Spiritual wisdom also requires people to pray at all times in order to communicate with God. Prayers help Christians to interconnect with their creator. It helps them to escape from the temptations they may occasionally face.
Spiritual wisdom also stresses the importance of spiritual living
When a person decides to embrace the importance of spiritual living, he/she pays attention to the matters of spiritual world instead of only relying on the matters of the physical world. Due to this, a person will concentrate on making his/her faith stronger whenever the challenges of life affect him. From the above argument, it is clear that spiritual wisdom is critical to all the people who wish to achieve an examined life. It makes citizens live in harmony with all their neighbors. What is more, it makes people value life of another person since the Scripture stresses the importance of valuing the human life. People will stop to kill each other or steal from their neighbors because of this moral outlook. People will also find divine intervention whenever they are faced with challenges since they will act according to the teachings outlined in the Scripture.
The only way for people to live an examined life is connected with their philosophical enlightenment
According to Socrates, a man should do things that make him happy in order to follow philosophical principles in life. If stealing does not make a person happy, there is no reason why a person should engage in any form of theft. Socrates also emphasized on the importance of people practicing self-control in order to have examined lives. Self-control is important in everybody’s life since it makes a person be contented with what he/she owns. Philosophers argue that when a person has self-control, he/she would have the will of conquering his/her appetite, otherwise, engrossing appetite would conquer the will of human. One of the ways to achieve a strong sense of self-control is to avoid being affected by external stimulus. When external stimulus affects the life of a person, they will only do the things other people consider attractive (Navia, 2007). This will prevent this person from achieving his/her individual goals since he/she will always concentrate on fulfilling the demands that other people find to be attractive. One of the ways to prevent the harmful effects of external stimulus is to become firm about the choices that a person decides to make. This will help an individual to avoid the harmful effects of peer pressure.
Socrates also stressed on the importance to observe justice in order to keep up philosophical lives. According to Aristotle, justice helps in ensuring that equal people are treated as equal and unequal people are treated as unequal. For example, justice will help in ensuring that all employees who work in the same institution and hold similar position get the same wages (Johnson, 2011). In addition, justice will assist in ascertaining all the people that may be blamed by their neighbors and receive damages in any way. Justice also aims at ensuring that people are not discriminated due to their age or gender when any service is being offered to them.
The importance of friendship and sharing
Nobody can live alone in this life. When people have close friends, they are able to share the challenges that they may face during their lifetime. Psychologists argue that friendship is important when people face stressful events. Examples of such events include a situation when a person loses somebody he/she loves and values. Moreover, friends are important when people experience marital problems. Most suicides could be avoided if people had someone to talk with whenever they experience problems. According to Aristotle, true friends always give a refuge when a person is faced with problems such as misfortunes and poverty. It proves that friendship is important for a person to live an examined life since friends help to go through any emotional struggle (Russon & Fagan, 2009). This is because it aids people to avoid any stress or emotional pressure that they may be facing in particular life’s situation. Researchers have also proved that most complicated problems can be avoided if people have close friends. From the above standpoints, it is clear that living an examined life emphasizes the importance of adopting the philosophical life defined by Socrates. Philosophical way of life will make people practice justice. It will help in achieving equality in the society. In addition, people will concentrate on practicing self-control. This will help them to avoid extreme pressure from external influences.
To conclude, the Socratic examined life should be based on wisdom supported by curiosity. This shows that nobody has the unbounded knowledge that is required in this world. Wise people should concentrate on acquiring new knowledge since this will enable them to recognize the challenges that may affect them as they do their usual activities. It will definitely help people to question the facts that are presented as common in this world so that they are able to distinguish the facts from the wrong notions. It will assist in improving the skills of critical thinking. Socrates also considered that people should fight for the truth that they believe in to create a path of examined life. In the Apology compiled by Pluto, Socrates claimed that he would not give up philosophy as he felt that it enabled him to teach his fellow citizens about the importance of observing justice. Therefore, he was able to expose common vices in Athens by means of his philosophical doctrines. Equality will be achieved in the society only if people start fighting for the truth. This will help the poor to be granted their rights just as the other people in the society.
People should also concentrate on seeking spiritual wisdom in order to adhere to examined lives. Spiritual wisdom helps in ensuring that people observe the commandments given by God while they interact with others in the society. Thus, people will begin to observe pious virtues throughout their lives. It is also significant for people to be educated in accordance with philosophical principles. Philosophers stress the importance of self-control.