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Trial and Death of Socrates. What is its historical significance?. Lecture outline. Kinds of love: (Plato’s Symposium ) 1) Plato’s universal love 2) Aristophanes’ Soulmate love 3) Alcibiades’ egotistical love Allegory of the Cave: wealth and virtue Historical Justification of Socrates

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trial and death of socrates

Trial and Death of Socrates

What is its historical significance?

lecture outline
Lecture outline
  • Kinds of love: (Plato’s Symposium)
    • 1) Plato’s universal love
    • 2) Aristophanes’ Soulmate love
    • 3) Alcibiades’ egotistical love
  • Allegory of the Cave: wealth and virtue
  • Historical Justification of Socrates
  • Argument of the Crito: your true parents?
who taught whom
Who taught whom?
  • ? > Socrates > Plato > Aristotle > Stoics (Epictetus) >
  • What gender were they?
  • Who taught Socrates?
1 who was socrates teacher
1) Who was Socrates’ teacher?
  • Socrates: Diotema of Mantineia, a woman wise in this and in many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed the disease ten years. She was my instructress in the art of love . . .
diotema s philosophy 101
Diotema’s Philosophy 101
  • Diotema: “For he who would proceed aright in this matter should begin in youth to visit beautiful forms; and first, if he be guided by his instructor aright, to love one such form only -- out of that he should create fair thoughts;
upper division philosophy
Upper division philosophy
  • [210b] and soon he will of himself perceive that the beauty of one form is akin to the beauty of another; and then if beauty of form in general is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to recognize that the beauty in every form is one and the same!
how to overcome violence of love
How to overcome violence of love
  • And when he perceives this he will abate his violent love of the one, which he will despise and deem a small thing, and will become a lover of all beautiful forms; in the next stage he will consider that the beauty of the mind is more honourable than the beauty of the outward form....
love of the laws
Love of the laws
  • So that if a virtuous soul have but a little comeliness, he will be content to love and tend him, and will search out and bring to the birth thoughts which may improve the young, until he is compelled to contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws, and to understand that the beauty of them all is of one family, and that personal beauty is a trifle;
the sea of beauty
The sea of beauty
  • and after laws and institutions he will go on to the sciences, that he may see their beauty, being not like a servant in love with the beauty of one youth or man or institution, himself a slave mean and narrow-minded, but drawing towards and contemplating the vast sea of beauty, he will create many fair and noble thoughts and notions in boundless love of wisdom; until on that shore he grows and waxes strong, and at last the vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of beauty everywhere. . . .
absolute beauty
Absolute Beauty
  • He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when he comes toward the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty . . . -- a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing and decaying, or waxing and waning; secondly, not fair in one point of view and foul in another, … but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things.
the ladder of love
The ladder of love
  • He who from these ascending under the influence of true love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end. And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.
aphrodite plays her games
Aphrodite plays her games
  • Recall Aphrodite’s power in Antigone: Beauty in one person, “violent”
    • She against whom none may battle,
    • the goddess Aphrodite, plays her games.
  • This power is overcome by philosophical love – the love of Beauty everywhere
  • Rising up to Absolute Beauty (Good, True)
the gods and god
The gods and “God”
  • Recall: Is it good because the gods command it?
    • What does Aphrodite command? 1) Love X (period)
  • Diotema: 1) love someone beautiful
      • This is the starting point; it’s a mistake to think it is the end.
    • 2) Love Beauty everywhere
  • The gods too must love Absolute Beauty, Truth and Good (“God”)
    • =“Philosophical monotheism”
    • Compare Plato with the mystical love of Rumi
real slavery and real freedom
Real Slavery and Real Freedom
  • > Discovery of the Beautiful, Good, True stemming from the Absolute One
    • The gods too love the Beautiful, follow the Good, see the Unity of all being
  • Beauty, truth, goodness are everywhere as expressions of the absolute source: the One
    • Recalls animism: divine is in the world
    • Plato’s Absolute is manifest in the world: it casts its shadow on the world
  • Enslavement: taking these shadows for their Source (=Aphrodite’s games)
2 aristophanes soulmate love
2) Aristophanes: Soulmate Love
  • And when one of them [192c] meets with his other half, the actual half of himself . . . the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and will not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another.

For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, [192d] and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment. . . .


[h]uman nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love. There was a time, I say, when we were one, but now because of the wickedness of mankind God has dispersed us . . . .

  • [Compare: Gilgamesh, the Bible: on the Fall, the Flood]

Wherefore let us exhort all men to piety, that we may avoid evil, [193b] and obtain the good, of which Love is to us the lord and minister; and let no one oppose [Love]-- he is the enemy of the gods who opposes [Love]. For if we are friends of the God and at peace with him we shall find our own true loves, which rarely happens in this world at present. . . .


I believe that if our loves were perfectly accomplished, and each one returning to his primeval nature had his original true love, then our race would be happy. And if this would be best of all, the best in the next degree and under present circumstances must be the nearest approach to such a union; [193d] and that will be the attainment of a congenial love.


Wherefore, if we would praise him who has given to us the benefit, we must praise the god Love, who is our greatest benefactor, both leading us in this life back to our own nature, and giving us high hopes for the future, for he promises that if we are pious, he will restore us to our original state, and heal us and make us happy and blessed.

aristophanes on the god of love
Aristophanes on the God of Love
  • Accepts anthropomorphic polytheism (conventional belief)
  • But focus is on humanity
    • We are responsible for our own suffering by separating ourselves from the gods
    • who then, as punishment, separate us from one another
    • (Recall: expulsion from the Garden of Eden)
  • The true divinity, our salvation, is Love
    • found within our own experience through independent human thought (philosophy)
3 context of socrates trial and death
3) Context of Socrates’ Trial and Death
  • Athens is defeated by Sparta (404 BCE)
  • Who is to blame? Scapegoat needed
  • Conspicuous traitor: Alcibiades, a student of Socrates
    • Alcibiades: beautiful, rich young man
    • Betrays Athens to Sparta, to the Persians
  • Conclusion: Socrates is guilty of “corrupting the youth.” (399 BCE)
alcibiades speech
Alcibiades’ Speech
  • “I have heard Pericles and other great orators, and I thought that they spoke well, but I never had any similar feeling; my soul was not stirred by them, nor was I angry at the thought of my own slavish state. But this Marsyas has often brought me to such a pass, [216a] that I have felt as if I could hardly endure the life which I am leading . . .

“and I am conscious that if I did not shut my ears against him, and fly as from the voice of the siren, my fate would be like that of others, -- he would transfix me, and I should grow old sitting at his feet.


“For he makes me confess that I ought not to live as I do, neglecting the wants of my own soul, and busying myself with the concerns of the Athenians; therefore I hold my ears and tear myself away from him. [216b] And he is the only person who ever made me ashamed, which you might think not to be in my nature, and there is no one else who does the same.


“For I know that I cannot answer him or say that I ought not to do as he bids, but when I leave his presence the love of popularity gets the better of me. And therefore I run away and fly from him, [216c] and when I see him I am ashamed of what I have confessed to him.

desire to kill socrates
Desire to kill Socrates
  • “Many a time have I wished that he were dead, and yet I know that I should be much more sorry than glad, if he were to die: so that I am at my wit's end.”
alcibiades failure
Alcibiades’ failure
  • Focus on material world
    • Wealth, popularity, pleasure, a beautiful body
  • These are shadows of the true Reality
    • =Beauty, Truth, Good in itself
    • =true Love of Philosophy
      • Philos-Sophos: Soul over Body
  • Alcibiades’ false love – like the violent love that blinds us (as in Sophocles on Aphrodite)
  • Philosophical love saves us from this
allegory of the cave
Allegory of the Cave
  • Ordinary “knowledge” – sensuous, opinionated
    • Focus on wealth, pleasure, particular beauty
    • But this is not where truth exists.
    • Recall: the problem raised by trade: X amount of corn = Y amount of wine = $20 What is the source of value?
  • Ascent of knowledge to true reality
    • The value that equates the two different objects is not on the surface, but on another level
  • > virtue, the Beautiful, the Good, the True
  • The philosopher returns to the cave
    • And they kill him
who frees the prisoner
Who frees the prisoner?
  • “And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look toward the light, he will suffer sharp pains …”
  • Recall Philosophy 101: 1) love someone
relation of virtue to wealth
Relation of Virtue to Wealth
  • The command of the Oracle at Delphi
  • And I think that no better piece of fortune has ever befallen you in Athens than my service to God. For I spend my whole life in going about and persuading you all to give your first and chiefest care to the perfection of your souls, and not till you have done that to think of your bodies, or your wealth; and telling you that virtue does not come from wealth, but that wealth, and every other good thing which men have, whether in public, or in private, comes from virtue. (Plato’s Apology)
historical truth of socrates argument
Historical Truth of Socrates’ Argument
  • Why did Athens lose the war?
    • Internal division of society into rich and poor continues
    • Sparta: the base of the rich slave-holding aristocracy
    • Rich, slave-owners in Athens betray the city to Sparta
  • Socrates’ analysis:
    • These rich Athenians such as Alcibiades puts wealth first (the body),
    • rather than virtue (the soul)
  • > City is divided, falls
  • > Socrates is the true patriot
argument of the crito
Argument of the Crito
  • 1) Crito’s appeal to Socrates: save yourself (family, friends, etc.)
  • 2) S: We must not do anything wrong. Right?
  • 3) C: What could be wrong with fleeing an unjust sentence?
  • 4) S: Imagine putting this question to the Laws, and having them reply.
the laws are your true parents
The Laws are your true parents
  • “Are we not, first, your parents? Through us your father took your mother and bagat you. Tell us, have you any fault with those of us that are the laws of marriage? “I have none,” I should reply. “Or have you any fault to find with those of us that regulate the nurture and education of the child, which you, like others, received? Did we not do well in bidding your father educate you in music and gymnastics?” (Plato’s Crito)
nature of law
Nature of Law
  • The laws give us birth, education.
  • We actively participate in law-making.
  • => Voluntary agreement with the Laws (like a contract in business)
was socrates unjustly condemned
Was Socrates Unjustly Condemned?
  • The procedure of the law has not been violated.
  • Even if the court makes a mistake in judgment, it does so according to the Laws and so must be obeyed.
  • Otherwise the laws we ourselves create are destroyed.