Plato often charged Socrates with being dangerous due to his unconventional conception of religion and claims of receiving guidance from an infallible deity who provided guidance on public matters; yet Socrates made many philosophical contributions such as outlining different political regimes and discussing justice itself.
What is the good?
Plato describes the good in his Phaedo as that which brings truth and understanding of things, giving life its value and giving humans reason for living. Plato shows us in his Phaedo that good can also be something truly beautiful and desirable that draws people to seek it out naturally.
Socrates was not interested in worshipping the traditional gods of his city-state. Instead, he believed his true form of religion lay in serving human virtue and that he had been chosen by them to teach it to his students. Therefore he disdained traditional forms of piety such as sacrifices, festivals and visits to shrines which seemed more meant to flatter than teach.
Socrates’s unorthodox understanding of piety combined with his firm conviction that divine guidance was giving him clear directions was what Meletus used as evidence against Socrates teaching new divinities, but an open-minded member of the jury would have seen through Meletus’s attempts at misconstruing what Socrates was doing to be contrary to traditional notions of piety and religiosity.
Socrates explained to his friends in The Phaedo that he didn’t believe there were any true gods, only divine forces. Furthermore, he asserted that these divine powers are what poets, nursery rhymes, Sunday School teachers and TV programs had taught people to believe.
Socrates was still charged with impiety because he did not acknowledge the gods recognized by his city, although Meletus changed his approach during cross-examination to accuse Socrates of not believing in any gods at all; this charge ran counter to what had originally been accused of, that Socrates was teaching new divinities; furthermore, Meletus lumped Socrates together with seers who claimed they could predict natural phenomena and thus know what gods thought about public matters.
What is justice?
Reading Socrates’s stories as depicted by Xenophon and Plato makes it hard not to recognize his devotion. He went on pilgrimages, prayed, and often addressed God directly rather than making prayers to Zeus or Athena as was common practice during his time. Furthermore, Socrates was quite willing to pay respects to traditional gods when requested in Phaedo or Crito texts as shown here.
Socrates’ devotion is one of the central themes in his Apology. Seeking to defend himself against allegations that he taught new divinities, Socrates attempts to show that his philosophy mission has been done under guidance from Delphi’s god. Socrates argues that since Delphi’s god commands what actions should be taken and vice versa, Socrates owes greater allegiance than to those on whom his trial takes place.
Socrates goes on to explain that his relationship with this god differs significantly from that of a child with its parent: his god never disputes with him directly but instead answers his queries and provides guidance; furthermore, it should not be understood as an individual but more of a force or principle, such as law; god isn’t concerned with our everyday affairs but only cares for souls.
Socrates then countered Thrasymachus’ arguments against injustice by emphasizing how just men are superior in character and intelligence to unjust ones; that unfairness creates conflicts over property, honor and power; that injustice weakens society; that only just men can serve as sources of strength to communities united for a common goal; only then can men act as agents of strength that bring peace; so he concluded, the world would become peaceful and happy – which it did become.
What is tyranny?
Tyranny comes from Ancient Greek tirannos, meaning “absolute ruler.” Tyrants act without legal restraints and often usurp an existing legitimate ruler’s sovereignty for themselves. Tyrants may use violence or other repressive means to maintain power; Archaic and early Classical periods saw neutral connotations for this term before Plato’s philosophy made it associated with despotism, dictatorship and totalitarianism.
Socrates defended himself from allegations of impiety by telling his fellow citizens he follows an unconventional form of religion. As a philosopher, Socrates believed it was his mission to get people thinking critically about themselves rather than accepting popular narratives about good and bad conduct as truth; according to him, doing this required paying attention to gods; thus obeying divine will.
Socrates says he intends to demonstrate his piety by visiting an altar dedicated to Zeus and other gods in the agora and asking them for an explanation of piety. This clearly refers to religious ceremonies; an open-minded jury could have easily concluded that Socrates believed in new divinities – making him unpopular among his peers.
Socrates and Euthyphro debate the meaning of piety at an altar. Euthyphro believes that gods like what is considered religious; Socrates counters with his belief that this argument doesn’t hold water because it implies that their love has both ways: gods love something because it is holy, while its virtue has earned their approval.
Socrates argues that this argument is absurd because gods don’t exist as circles; rather they exist as lines and have hierarchies of different things with the best or most pious items at the top of each list and subsequent ones below that.
What is the soul?
The soul is the central component of what makes up an individual human being, providing their actions, affections or states such as desire (for certain goods or bad outcomes) or fear (of negative outcomes) with purposeful intent and the capacity for voluntary acts of will. Unfortunately, though, the soul cannot solely be held responsible for these vital bodily processes either way.
Reasonable inference suggests that the expansion of meaning associated with “soul” during the sixth and fifth centuries could have been driven by philosophical activity – specifically Pythagorean speculation – which may explain its use to describe moral virtues other than courage in extant texts.
Socrates’s Phaedo suggests that human souls consist of three aspects, or parts. He proposes that these components include reason, spirit and appetite. Reason acts like an intellect in terms of its capacity for thinking and contemplating truth. Spirit represents emotion as capacity for love or hateful feelings (joy or sorrow), while appetite represents cravings such as food or drink. Furthermore, Socrates suggests that souls remain immortal after death while possessing power and wisdom.
No one really knows how the Stoics conceptualized soul, but their theory likely followed something like this: Animal bodies contain various kinds of pneuma; the lowest kind responsible for cohesion and character formation within parts like teeth or bones, the natural pneuma controlling metabolism and growth, while soul provides psychological functions – particularly cognition by sense or (in humans) intellect.
Notable in Socrates’s Phaedo is that his understanding of soul differs significantly from our modern-day concept of mind; for example, it does not encompass all our desires nor all emotional responses or beliefs; though one cannot have bodily desires like hunger and thirst without their soul being involved; still this could never be seen as solely responsible by Socrates’s conception.