Plato – Apology

The term form refers to an abstract quality or property. To contemplate about an object, one needs to take any property of a given object, and separate it from the object (consider it as a different entity from the object). For instance, if we separate the roundness of a basketball from other properties such as the weight and color, and consider the roundness as a different entity, then we would be thinking of the roundness form of the ball (Pojman 187). According to Plato, this property exists separately from the basketball, in an entirely different existence mode that the basketball. Therefore, the form is not a mere idea of roundness in the mind. It exists independently from the basketball and individual thinking of it. It then follows that all round objects, including basketball, copy or participates in this form of roundness. To enhance our understanding of the difference between the properties of forms and those of material objects, there is need to examine the first two properties of forms. Forms are transcendent, that is, they do not exist in time and space. However, a material object, like a basketball, exists in time and space. The roundness of a form does not exist at any particular time or place, thus forms subsist in different ways. This is important as it explains the unchanging property of forms. The roundness property of a basketball will never change: it remains the same at all places and times of instantiation. The form of roundness in present in many spatial locations, and the property or roundness would remain even after the destruction of all round objects (192).

The second property of forms is purity. Any material object, like a basketball, has various properties: elasticity, roundness, and others, which combine to make the individual basketball. A form is one of the many properties, existing individually apart from time and space. Roundness is purely roundness, without any mixture of properties. The differentiation factors between forms and material objects are pure and transcendent properties, as materials incorporate complex conglomeration of properties in time and space.

According to Plato’s principle, humans believe that the reality of a thing dependents on its objectivity. This is because humans tend to distinguish reality and appearance. However, forms are more objective than material objectives, thus forms are more real than the material objects. One of the properties of the soul is eternity. Drawing from the unchanging property of forms, then it means that the soul never dies, nor does it ever begin. It then follows that the soul is immortal, and thus exists before and after the “birth” of the body.

In the Apology, there are four charges against Socrates. First, Socrates faces accusation for studying things in the heavens and below the earth. Second, he tends to make the worst arguments into better arguments, thus persuading others to follow him and his beliefs. Third, he is guilty of corrupting young people, and fourth, he does not believe in the gods of the city. The charge against studying matters of the skies and the ground below contradicts Socrates position as an atheist. Matters of heavens and beneath the earth primarily focus on religious belief of individuals and the gods, thus countering Socrates’ position as an atheist. The basic definition of atheism is the lack of belief in deities. It thus follows that the first charge against Socrates contradicts his position as an atheist.

The charge that Socrates turns the worst arguments into stronger arguments identifies him with the Sophists. Sophists were a group of people with techniques of persuasion that enabled them to influence people to adopt their beliefs and points of view, despite their ignorance on the subject matter of the topic. Athenians accused Socrates of being a Sophist. The charges against corrupting the youth came from Meletus. According to him, Socrates was responsible for corrupting the minds of the youth in Athens. However, Socrates considers the claim that he is the only person who corrupts the youth as absurd. In essence, this implies that all other people help the youth. He uses an example of a horse trainer (614). Socrates argues that only a few people are capable of training a horse lone, but not corrupting the horse. Here, he seeks to clarify that corrupting the youth takes more than one person, and that the corruption results from the society as a whole.

The claim by Socrates that he is not a teacher results from his belief in the existence of form and the recollection theory of forms. He believes that knowledge is an unchanging form property of the body, thus knowledge comes from the mind and not from senses. This means that the mind is eternal, and has knowledge, and all humans need to do is to recollect the knowledge from the mind. Therefore, a person does not necessarily learn knowledge but rather recollects it from the mind.

Socrates argues that his accusation that he receives money for his teaching is false. According to him, a person with real knowledge has the right to receive compensation for their teaching, but he claims that he personally does not posses any knowledge. Here, Socrates is trying to show the people that no person has real knowledge, and that people do not learn knowledge but rather have a recollection of it from the mind. This is another way of asserting that knowledge is simply a recollection from the mind, not an object travelling through time and space.

By narrating the story about the oracle of Delphi, Socrates seeks to justify his “busy bodying” in search of a wiser philosopher than him in Athens. As it was, it was against the courtesy of the Athens society to move around and accuse the intellects of less intellectuality than their reputation. After the Delphic Oracle that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens, he sought to refute the assertion of the oracle by visiting the acclaimed wise men in that society. After several encounters with the acclaimed wise men from various professions, Socrates attempted to show the men that they were not as wise as they thought they were. Apparently, this did not go down well with most of them. The more he encountered the acclaimed wise men, the more he thought himself to be wiser than them, because they thought they knew things when they were outright ignorant of them. However, Socrates did not consider himself to know anything. In this trifling particular, Socrates appeared wiser than the acclaimed wise men, primarily because he did not perceive to know things that he did not know (623).

In the Apology, Socrates speaks of the soul to be important than the human body in several scenarios. The first instance is when he is cross-examining Meletus. He asserts that he honors the people of Athens, but will continue to teach and practice philosophy. He says that he will continue to convince the people of Athens on disregarding reputation, money, and honor, and focus on attaining the truth, wisdom, and improvements of the soul. Here, Socrates considers the soul a higher priority than the bodily and material needs.

The second incident is still in his defense as he claims to his first and chief care is the greater improvement of his soul, and that the thought of the person and properties are irrelevant. He reasserts that money does not give rise to virtue, as well as other private and public good of man. He further states that this is his teaching to the youth, and that he is responsible for any harm caused. The third instance is after the death sentence, as he talking about the migration of the soul to another world. Here, he tries to show that earthly death is either a state of utter unconsciousness and nothingness, or the migration of the soul (631). Thus, a just person should not fear death, as their soul will remain eternal. Socrates seeks to show that despite the death of the body, the soul remains eternal, and is thus more important than the body.

Rather than fearing death, Socrates urges the Athenians to seek the greatest improvements to their souls. A person should thus fear knowledge claim, as that is evil. There is some difference between the afterlife concept in the Apology and the Phaedo (Plato). In the latter, Socrates seems to use the immortality of the soul in a dramatic context of the dialogue as a trick to clam the fears of the Simmias and Cebes.

Works Cited

Plato. Phaedo. New York: Mobile Reference, 2008. Print.

Pojman, Louis. Classics of Philosophy. New York: Oxford UP, 2003. Print.

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