Essay on Analysis of Plato's Apology

1445 Words Sep 18th, 2011 6 Pages
The Apology is Plato's recollection and interpretation of the Trial of Socrates (399 BC). In this dialogue Socrates explains who he is and what kind of life he led. The Greek word "apologia" means "explanation" -- it is not to be confused with "apologizing" or "being sorry" for one's actions. The following is an outline of the 'argument' or logos that Socrates used in his defense. A hypertext treatment of this dialogue is also available.

I. Prologue (17a-19a)

The first sentence sets the tone and direction for the entire dialogue. Socrates, in addressing the men of Athens, states that he almost forgot who he was. The speeches of his accusers had led him to this point. The dialogue will thus be a kind of "recollecting" by Socrates
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And no rational person voluntarily harms himself.

But if he harmed the youth involuntarily, then he should be instructed (educated) -- not punished.

Regarding the Charge of Impiety

Socrates next takes up the charge of Impiety. Could a person believe in things like clothes and yet not in human beings who wear them? So too with divine things: Since Socrates believes in a Diamon (a divine thing), it follows that he believes in divinities.

IV. Socrates' Interpretation of his Art (28b - 32e)

Socrates, far from being an impious corruptor of the youth, is actually a blessing sent by the gods.

To show this, Socrates likens himself to a GADFLY (a horsefly). Just as a gadfly constantly agitates a horse, preventiung it from becoming sluggish and going to sleep so too Socates, by (moving through the City) stirring up conversations in the marketplace, prevents the City from becoming sulggish and careless and intolerant (thinking it knows something when it doesn't).

Ultimately, Socrates' whole life had been a service to the City begun out of a pious response to the saying of the gods. This is the deeper refutation of the charges. It is also another positive image of Socrates: He IS a gadfly.

V. Socrates Answers the Charges (33a-34b)

[Notice the general movement of the defense --

Who Socrates IS NOT: He is NOT a Physicalist; he is NOT a Sophist.

Who Socrates IS:

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