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countless martyrs, each one for their own cause. What makes Socrates any different from any other? He died to protect his views of philosophy. Would we all do this? No and it is shameful, we don’t need an Oracle to say we are wise to take steps in the right direction. Was the Oracle right to say Socrates was unsurpassed in his wisdom? Yes because he had philosophical wisdom that no one else thought of. Was the Oracle right? Yes, Socrates was wise, in a paradoxical way. Socrates knew he didn’t know everything. But if he didn’t know everything how could he be so wise? Because of his willingness to admit his lack of knowledge he has wisdom more valuable than anyone else’s. Because he knew that one ultimately important philosophy he was beyond comparison to the other Athenians. Can it be argued that the others were just as smart? Maybe but the oracle wasn’t talking about intelligence. Socrates was intelligent, but his wisdom was more important because his wisdom was philosophical whereas other “thinkers” tended to be more shallow and oriented on tangible goals. This difference was what made Socrates ask the questions that got him in trouble. Was it worth it for him to maintain his point compared to “admitting” what the Athenians wanted? Should he have held to his views even when threatened with death? Yes, because if he had backed down his teachings would have all lost meaning. He would seem as if all he had said was for nothing. The cave is simply a metaphor of the philosophical journey. Should Socrates have “escaped”, should he have asked any
questions? And why did he bother to return to “the cave” if there was a possibility of becoming lost in the darkness of ignorance? Socrates had to ask, it was necessary if he was going to become philosophical. But why come back? It is because he had tasted freedom, he felt obligated to share. Just like the man who became free from the cave and saw the beauty of the outside world. He had to return to the metaphorical cave in order to help dispel some of the ignorance that was gripping the rest of Athens. He had to stop them from repressing themselves. Why is this deserving of murder? Socrates wasn’t being heretical, anarchist, or physically threatening. Socrates was killed in order to maintain the status quo, to provide for a continuing existence of ignorance. The Athenians seemed quite content to allow a person who showed concern for them to be killed, much like the Vietnamese during the war there. The common people simply remained as they were despite the struggle over the land they lived in. Why? Did they fear retribution from opposing sides? No, neither the Athenians nor the Vietnamese were afraid: they simply didn’t wish to set aside the comfort of their daily lives in order to make a stand for themselves. They were all content to remain as they were despite the pull from opposing factions both inside and outside of their countries. Even with the threat of repercussions for not conforming it is best to face your devils and hold true to your values. Socrates didn’t fear death enough to give up. Why should we? Why should anyone allow themselves to be forced to acquiesce to something they don’t agree in? Regardless of any consequence we should stubbornly hold to our beliefs if they provide us with hope for freedom and enlightenment. We shouldn’t be forced to fake a belief or admit something that isn’t yours. Consequences are inevitable
and fate will serve its own justice as it will, we shouldn’t try to stall this by simply “going along”. Socrates obviously didn’t deserve to be punished for trying to step in and encourage philosophical freedom. It is impossible to sympathize with the Athenians if we only knew how criminal it is to try and imprison a great mind. Just because they suffer a chronic case of being willingly ignorant doesn’t mean that they should have silenced Socrates. They considered him guilty of heresy and other trumped up charges when all he was guilty of was spreading ideas, and that is no crime. The cave, although it does fit the Apology, is told to explain a wider area of issues. Both the cave and the Apology do focus on enlightenment; the Cave explores steps to enlightenment whereas the Apology tells of the effects of trying to teach others of enlightenment. If you were trying to compare the roles of people in the Cave to the Apology you would see why the Oracle said no one was wiser than Socrates. Because in the Cave the only person that went outside is like Socrates, making a journey for philosophy and trying to become a better person through curiosity. Those people who were still in the cave were spread at all different levels. Politicians and the people who controlled the public opinion were at the fires because obviously they were the ones that controlled what the people below saw. Despite their proximity to the mouth of the cave they lacked the wisdom to even turn around. The people who were at the first and second levels weren’t even in the race because they weren’t even turning around to progress upwards. But Socrates was human just like everyone else, what would possess him to turn around but not make the other “prisoners” turn around too? What could break the bonds that imprisoned him that the others didn’t have? Wisdom, with that he was able to recognize what he was lacking and free himself from his imprisonment. With wisdom
Socrates was able to see that his confinement was due to himself. Did the others do anything about their confinement? No, they wanted to kill Socrates to avoid having to face the truth. They were not wise, they were afraid and weak. Wisdom is not simply being aware and intelligent; it is also having the strength to do something about an issue. Socrates was definitely wise; he saw the problem and acted on it. The other citizens definitely could not be wiser than him because although the issue was obvious and the action they took did nothing to solve the issue but instead used Socrates as a scapegoat. So was the Oracle right to say Socrates was wise? Obviously. With all the strength of character he had, resisting public opinion and refusing to admit false guilt, the Oracle was right to say so. He made the right choices, he stood by his opinion, and he didn’t run from his obligation. Could we all say the same? Are we all as faithful in ourselves? Why not? Why are we so afraid to be adamant about our ideals? We succumb to social pressure, becoming the same as the average person. Can’t we stand up for ourselves? Don’t you want to be wise; don’t you want to be proud? We need to stand behind our ideals, we need to ask “why”, we need to think and contemplate about everything we are told. Unlike Socrates, we don’t have an oracle to say we are wise, we have to simply do what we feel is right.