Socrates was a Greek philosopher, whose teachings marks are a shift in philosophy – from dealing with nature and the world to consider the person. Socrates was sentenced to death for “corrupting the youth” and because of the “disrespect of the Gods.” His work is the turning point of ancient philosophy. His method of analysis of concepts and the identification of virtue and knowledge, he sent the attention of philosophers to the unconditional value of human personality.
Socrates received a broad education. He was married to a woman named Xanthippe. He also took an active part in public life of Athens. As well, he participated in the Peloponnesian War. Socrates also was a teacher and older friend of the Athenian politician and military leader Alcibiades. In 399 BC., he was charged that “he does not honor the Gods, which the city honors, and introduces a new deity, and responsible for the fact that he corrupts the youth”. As a free Athenian citizen, was not subjected to punishment, and he took poison (the widespread legend, the infusion of hemlock, but – judging by the symptoms – hemlock was spotted).
Socrates was the first public Greek philosopher: his studies he spent on the streets, crowds filled diversified: traders, soldiers, artisans, aristocrats and the homeless. He quickly gained popularity among the Athenians, although the eccentricity of the philosopher became the subject of ridicule, even among educated people. Simultaneously Socrates “corrupts the youth” by offering reliable ways to avoid punishment for infractions, including adultery. Thus he reflected the two vices: disrespect for the gods and corrupting youth.
It is also said that Socrates did not simply deny the power of the Gods, but also has his own god, whose voice is being heard, but under the circumstances, only the priest has the right to communicate with the Gods. It was believed that “Socrates is guilty of disbelief in the Gods recognized by the state, and that the policy is introduced in the new god. He is also guilty of corrupting youth. Proposed penalty: death. “
Accusations of atheism were not something new in Athens Socrates did not wanted to do give up his point of view, and he wished not to leave Athens. The centerpiece was the molestation of accusation of youth. Athenian law required to defend a person who was accused. Considering that Socrates spoke without prepared speeches. The speech was a conversation with judges and he did not try to convince them. The jury stopped the indignant cries of speech and voted this way: Socrates is guilty. Nevertheless, this decision became final sentence; he could pay the fine or still leave the city. Socrates refused to reappear as otherwise agreed with a prosecution. It is known that the disciples of Socrates prepared his escape from prison, but Socrates did not respond to the offer of his sincere friends. Moreover, he said a long monologue about what a citizen, even wrongfully convicted, I cannot respond to evil with evil.
Socrates was punished by society. People like Socrates, could not escape punishment because they were loners and nobody can impose his will. Socrates was given poison. He was lying in bed, and beside him, a man was preparing a poisonous mixture. The sun was setting. The court appointed the exact time of execution of punishment, but the man somehow delayed. In the end, Socrates could not resist: “Time passes; the sun goes down, why you wait?”
It seemed incredible that a man condemned to death could stop worrying so much about that his execution took place in a timely manner. On the contrary, the poor should be grateful for the delay. Executioner loved Socrates. He had heard his statement in court and felt deep sympathy for the thinker. Socrates, was the wisest of all the inhabitants of Athens. Delay in preparing the penalty would allow the philosopher to live a little longer. However, Socrates said urging: “Hurry. Bring the poison.” Feeding poison to Socrates, the man asked: “Why are you so impatient?” I can see how your face glows, I see your eyes burn. Do not you understand what’s going on? “You will die now!” Socrates responded: “I am interested in death. I have known life. It was beautiful, despite all the turmoil and suffering, I got pleasure from it. Just breathe and have fun. I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I did what I wanted to do, I said everything I wanted to say. Now I want to taste death – and the sooner the better. There are only two options: either my soul will live on in other forms, as they say Oriental mysticism, and this is an exciting event – to continue the journey without the gravity of the body. Body – is a close cell, it is very restricted in his movements. And the second option is – if the materialists are right, then after the death, there would be nothing left. It is also exciting – not to exist! I know what it means to be, and now the time has come to find out what it means not to be. And if I do not exist, then there is nothing to worry about!”
These things can only be said by the person who loves himself. Socrates took responsibility even for his death: the court could not blame him for anything, it was only a social bias, prejudice, mediocre people who were not able to understand the great insights of the mind of Socrates, but there was a majority and they voted for the death penalty. They could not fend off any of his argument. I guess they did not even realize what he was saying, the responses could not be considered. He refuted all their arguments. However, in decisions that were taken collectively, Athens was a democratic city, so the situation was considered a general meeting, which was recognized and reduced the risk of a person deserving death.
The judges were a little wiser; they offered the choice to Socrates: “If you leave the city and vowed that you would never come back, you’ll be able to avoid death. If you want to stay in Athens, then stop talking and lapse into silence. In this case we also would be able to persuade people to save your life. Either tomorrow at sunset you drink poison. Choose what you prefer.” Socrates replied: “I am ready to take the poison tomorrow or today – when it will be ready. But I cannot stop telling the truth. If I live, I will continue to tell the truth till my last breath. But I cannot leave Athens in the name of own salvation, or else I’ll always feel like a coward, who escaped death, and not taking responsibility for what happens. I have lived in harmony with my thoughts, feelings and heart and want to die peacefully. And do not feel guilty. No one is responsible for my death, except myself. I knew it would happen, for speaking the truth in a society based on lies, deception, illusion, is like to seek your own death. Do not blame these poor people, who decided on my death. If someone is responsible, then it is only me. I want you all to know that I lived, taking responsibility for my life, and I die, taking responsibility for my death. I was a maverick in my life. And I remain a maverick in the face of death. No one took me for solutions, and I myself have made my choice. Many friends tried to persuade Socrates to escape, but he was adamant to perform absurd decision of the Athenian court, in order to remain faithful to the laws of his native city.”
I think that Confucius would condemn Socrates decision. Confucius supported life, truth, rituals, traditions, wisdom and sincerity. The ideal of Confucianism is to create a harmonious society in the ancient pattern, in which every person has its function. Harmonious society is built on the idea of loyalty – loyalty to the relationship between bosses and subordinates, aimed at preserving the harmony and most of this society. Confucius formulated the golden rule of ethics: “Do not make the man what you do not wish for yourself.” That is why, in my opinion, Confucius would approve if Socrates admitted some “mistakes” and changes his mind and continued to bring harmony in the community, as he was a very wise person. The city needed him and many people needed him too, but they were afraid to admit it.
Moral obligation, as they materialize in the ritual, becomes a matter of upbringing, education and culture. These concepts Confucius has not divided. All of them are included in the content category “wen” (originally the word meant a person with painted body, tattoos). “Wen” can be interpreted as the cultural meaning of human existence, like education. This is not a secondary artificial creation of a man and not his primary natural layer, not book-learning and not natural, but their organic blend. Confucius also supported any activity that was useful for the community, its development, its traditions and prosperity. Kind intentions and justice are one of the constancies of a righteous man, supported by Confucius. Many people judge the decision of Socrates, saying he had a choice, he did it wrong and he had to live if he could choose it. Others think that if he has chosen this decision, then it meant a lot to him, he did not suffer because of it and he was very interested in what would happen after death. If Socrates acted this way, then he knew what he exactly wanted, it was his own decision and he did not blame anyone in that. Although Socrates had power to change the Law of Athens, he decided to obey this unjust law, may be to show people how ridiculous it is, to show them the real injustice and to show how miserably these people lived obeying everything, and not choosing their way of life.
The most important thing is that Socrates had a choice, he was a very wise man and he perfectly understood the options he had. He has been thinking a lot and he has chosen his way himself, choosing to take the poison and to find out what the death was like. Probably Socrates acted in this situation by obeying the state laws, and also choosing this way himself, with a choice to die this way or later. May be it was important to Socrates to have choice and to choose himself his death, not blaming anyone and at the same time, not committing a suicide, just “obeying the state’s law.” In this case – an unjust law of Athens. The thing that is obvious is that Socrates did not want to preserve his life, he had intentions to find out more and more, and maybe he already knew too much about life, about the limits we have in life and about the rules we invent and obey, that he was interested in other things. He may have considered new experience interesting, outrageous and useful for him, which will not have the boundaries and limits and could open new ways of existence or even the better life after death.
All in all, I think that Socrates was not right to obey the orders of the state of Athens to take poison. He should he have acted to preserve his own life by choosing exile or escaping, as it was more important to save his own life, than to obey the orders. But, it was his decision and he did not blame anyone and the important fact is that Socrates had a choice and he considered to take poison as a right decision for himself.