Socrates was a gifted thinker dedicated to careful reasoning that led to transformation in the entire way of approaching philosophy. He was the founder of western philosophy as he developed concepts through defense of his ideas against political enemies. His determination and intelligence in the aspect of seeking for knowledge and truth made Socrates one of the first critical philosophers. Several events occurred in the life of Socrates during the period of his trial. The trial of Socrates took a period of nine to ten hours in the people’s court at Athens. The trial began with a reading of formal charges against Socrates by herald.
The three accusers Meletus, Lycon and Anytus presented their claim within a period of three hours. The accused defended himself within three hours and the court herald asked jurors to render their decision by putting ballot disks in two marked urns. One was for guilty votes and the other was for acquittal. Each juror struggled to understand the case as the judges never gave instructions about interpretation of charges. Finally, the votes were counted and 280 jurors voted to find Socrates guilty and 220 voted for acquittal. Socrates was convicted by relatively close vote and this entered the trial to penalty phase. Socrates was accused of impiety, corruption of young and neglect of gods worshiped by the city.
Meletus accused Socrates of corrupting the youth of Athens to believe in other gods apart from God of the city –state. Socrates defended by acknowledging past and present adversaries who were violent, ambitious and numerous (Atherton John, 1998). Socrates defended himself by accusing his enemies about their behavior of convincing listeners that his teachings were wrong. Through out the period of trial Socrates addressed true reason for his bad reputation. Socrates challenged the allegations made against him and declared his accusers as people without reasonable claims. Socrates was not scared of death sentence and saw it as a blessing as his accusers were corrupting their own souls.
Socrates responded to the accusations by saying that the opinions and verdicts of his accusers will have no effect on his dead body. Participants in the trial thought putting him to death would rescue them from being exposed as ignorant. The council found Socrates guilty and sentenced him to death. Socrates proposed to dine at the expense of taxpayers but the council rejected his proposal and executed him through capital punishment. The behavior of Socrates teaches us that the accused lived a moral life without prioritization of material things and his soul was the reason for living. Socrates teachings include first, one should never fear death, material things are of no importance, the soul is very important and should be protected, and truth should be the guiding element in an individual’s life.
Approaches to life in relation to the trial of Socrates
During the trial of Socrates four approaches to life arise, that offers his followers some advice. First, he argues that individuals should use modesty and humor when dealing with life. Human life is full of actions and every individual is bound to take risk of life or death. Socrates tries to show that he lived a simple life guided by truth, knowledge, justice, courageousness and religion. Second, an individual should never be afraid to ask questions relating to his or her own habits. In this aspect, Socrates tries to teach people that they should be confident and courageous to ask others about issues relating to their character, habits or way of life. An individual cannot be in a position to access him or herself perfectly as is reflected by Socrates sentiments. His behavior shows us how a person should be confident and daring to challenge accusations against him or her.
Third, an individual should be devoted to truth in all matters of life as a way of promoting peace and confronting false accusers. Socrates refused to be silenced about his philosophies even after being convicted by the jury. This strong character reflects about truth and knowledge. It is a very humble step taken by Socrates while he was defending himself about the accusations laid on him. It is difficult to cheat one’s conscious and Socrates beliefs that an individual should bring moral potential of his or her soul to actualization (Griswold Charles, 1999). Fourth, it is important to use dispassionate reason and avoid being overemotional. After Socrates was convicted of death sentence, he never over reacted and was very calm when expressing his final views. This means that Socrates is a humble and focused man guided by the principle of calmness. Individuals should have the element of taking issues in a polite manner to avoid conflicts.
Application of Socrates approaches is an element observed by many individuals while others consider such measures as inappropriate. In my case, these ideas are always in mind and have made life to be quite easy. One of the major approaches I treasure most is devotion to truth. It is said that truth sets an individual free and this principle is a blessing to me as my soul is free from colony of material things. I find it easy to say the truth because it provides me with the capacity to set my soul free.
Devotion to truth is applied in many concepts of life such as when dealing with parents, employers or teachers. In the case of parents, I have developed a strong relationship with my parents because of saying the truth always. This is a blessing to me because they provide me with anything I need thus it is a way of promoting peace, harmony and stability. Socrates’ life teaches us a very important lesson relating to how we should face life with confidence and courage. This is because; Socrates was a very courageous and influential thinker who transformed the entire way of approaching philosophy without fear.
Atherton John, 1998, Persona Approach Brings Philosophers and Students to Life, College Teaching, Vol. 46.
Griswold Charles, 1999, Relying on Your Own Voice: An Unsettled Rivalry of Moral Ideas in Plato’s Protagoras, The Review of Metaphysics, Vol.53.