Plato’s Apology – A few notes

This is only a short overview of some of the interesting ideas I got out of the book. This post is intended for those who’ve read the book and would like to see what other people have extracted from it. Overviews of the book can be found elsewhere.

‘At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.’

‘So I made myself spokesman for the oracle and asked myself whether I would rather be as I was – neither wise with their wisdom nor ignorant with their ignorance – or posses both qualities as they did.’

‘You are mistaken, my friend, if you think that a man who is worth anything ought to spend his time weighing up the prospects of life and death. He has only one thing to consider in performing any action; that is, whether he is acting justly or unjustly, like a good man or a bad one.’

‘To be afraid of death is only another form of thinking that one is wise when he is not; it is to think that one knows what one does not know.’

‘If on the other hand I tell you that to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others is really the very best thing a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living, you will be ever less inclined to believe me.’

‘But I did not think that I ought to stoop to servility because I was in danger.’

‘Now if there is no consciousness but only a dreamless sleep, death must be a marvellous gain.’

  1. Socrates won’t accept any arguments or values unless they pass his logical scrutiny. He does not claim that his wisdom is superhuman, only that it is based on argument rather than belief.
  2. Socrates does not give heed to anything but for what is just, sticking to his principles even in the face of death.
  3. Instead of trying to enlighten Socrates on his own supposed vices, Meletus drags Socrates to court. He does not try to instruct Socrates, but rather punish him.
  4. Socrates does not bring pitiful appealers to the courtroom since that would cater towards the jurors’ emotions instead of their logical thinking.
  5. The reason for Socrates’ trial and death were ancient slanderers who appealed to young, impressionable men who could not make their own counter-arguments.
  6. Socrates refuses to go on living without exercising his own personal excellence – philosophy.
  7. According so Socrates, fear of death is only a claim to knowledge when you are in fact ignorant.
  8. By condemning Socrates to death the jurors got much more of what they were trying to rid themselves off, making Socrates a martyr for philosophy when he would have died naturally in the course of a few years.
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