A Critical Analysis of Socrates` Arguments in His Defense

ACritical Analysis of Socrates’ Arguments in His Defense

ACritical Analysis of Socrates’ Arguments in His Defense

Inthe Apology of Socrates, he comes out philosophically to defendhimself against all the accusations against him during his trial. Allthe accusations are put through critical analysis to clearlydemonstrate the weaknesses that are not apparent without keenexamination. This essay expounds on the strengths of Socratesarguments to demonstrate how philosophy and critical thinking playeda part in his defense of himself.

Facingtwo charges of disrespecting the gods of the Athenians and corruptingthe youth at the time, Socrates is faced with a death penalty iffound guilty. However, he was not afraid of death and even thoughtthat death would be the better option (Jowett,2010). He only attempted to demonstrate that the accusations againsthim were false. On being an atheist, Socrates makes his argumentconvincing by being able to make his adversary, Meletus, to giveconflicting statements thus showing clearly that the accusation iswithout basis. The foundation of Socrates’ argument was that hisinquisitive nature led to prevarications leveled against him leadingto the conclusion that he was an evil man. Socrates asked Meletus incourt if he thought that he was an atheist. Meletus unintelligentlystates that Socrates is ‘a complete atheist’. From a logicalperspective, Socrates convincingly disputes this admission by statingthat if he were an atheist, there would be no way he could believe inthe existence of other Gods so as to derail the youths towards andfrom the gods of the Athenians. The most interesting part is asfollows when Socrates asks of Meletus:

“…Butthen you swear in the indictment that I teach and believe in divinespiritual agencies (new or old, no matter for that) at any rate, Ibelieve in spiritual agencies, so you say and swear in the affidavitand yet if I believe in divine beings, how can I help in believing inspirits and demigods-must I not? To be sure I must. And therefore Imay assume that your silence gives consent…

Thisexcept reveals that Meletus has no chance of winning the argument ashe remains silent indicating that his accusations have beendemonstrated to be totally unfounded and based on illogicalconsiderations. The only logical conclusion would be that theaccusation was false.

Socratestakes a similar approach of critical analysis of the charge ofcorrupting the youth (Green,2001). He interrogates Meletus on the issues by asking questionswhose answers as given by Meletus, show the inconsistencies. Socratesasked his adversary if he believed in improving the youth to which heanswered in the affirmative. Socrates then proceeded to ask himwhether the senators, judges, or assembly members were all for theimprovement of the youth. Meletus insisted that all these peoplemeant well for the youth. This point is used to demonstrate the factthat nearly everyone intends the youth to prosper and not becorrupted. On this ground, Socrates puts it to Meletus that if he didcorrupt the youth, it was inadvertent to do so. Meletus foolishlygets into the trap when he says that Socrates could be intentionallycorrupting the youth. However, Socrates reminds him that everyone hasthe desire to live among good people to avoid evil(Stone,1997). To strengthen this point, Socrates concludes the argument thatit would be absurd to corrupt the youth if this corruption couldlater be used to harm the person teaching it. Meletus was unable tochallenge Socrates on this point. This clearly depicts a convincingargument by Socrates(Reeve,1989).

DespiteSocrates’ philosophical approach to absolve himself of all thecharges against him, his arguments are not entirely convincing.Unfortunately, no part of his arguments is attacked by the jurors.For instance, Socrates argued that he had not assumed the capacity ofa teacher and stated that he should not be blamed if ‘someone turnsbad’. He goes ahead to contend that if indeed he had corrupted theyouth, they should come forward and take the role of witnesses incourt. This point seems to be insured when he invites the youths’parents to testify instead if the youth were not aware of beingcorrupted by him. Socrates certainly acts an escapist using thisargument. If he was entirely convinced that he did not corrupt anyyouth, there would be no chance that someone would ‘turn bad’.Moreover, there would be no need for the youth or their parents togive evidence in court. The fact that the youth or their parents donnot testify as to the corruption is not conclusive evidence that theywere not corrupted. Maybe they were all ignorant of the fact (Brickhouse&amp Smith, 1994).

Itwas unfortunate that Socrates was sentenced to death even afterfronting such convincing arguments. Perhaps, Socrates was right instating that those who were against him relied on prejudices anddislike against him rather than logicality of his defense against theaccusations.


Brickhouse,T. C., &amp Smith, N. D. (1994). Plato`s Socrates. New York u.a.:Oxford Univ. Press.

Green,R. K. (2001). Democraticvirtue in the trial and death of Socrates: resistance to imperialismin classical Athens.New York: Peter Lang.

Jowett,B. (2004). The trial and death of Socrates: four dialogues. New York:Barnes &amp Noble Books.

Jowett,B. (2010). The works of Plato. New York: Cosimo Classics.

Reeve,C. D. (1989). Socratesin the Apology: an essay on Plato`s Apology of Socrates. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Stone,I. F. (1997). Thetrial of Socrates.London: Pimlico.