The Apology, by Plato is a version speech that was given by Socrates to defend himself from charges made to him. Some of this charges included being analytical into things that were below the sky and earth and hence believing in different gods (daimonia) from the city gods, corrupting the youth and making the stronger arguments being defeated by the weaker argument, and also teaching people for a fee. In the Apology, Socrates was not making any excuses or apologizing for anything as the word literally means. He is not sorry for anything but making defenses for his actions and beliefs. In Greek, the word apology precisely and simply means making a defensive speech.
The Apology is therefore the interpretation and recollection of Plato’s Trial of the Socrates. In the Apology dialogue, Socrates has explained what kind of life he was leading and who he was. This dialogue begins with the Socrates pronouncing that he did not know that Athens men had been persuaded by their accusers (Cavalier 2). This first sentence is very much vital to the entire speech’s theme. In fact, Socrates suggests in the same Apology that philosophy always begins with a genuine admittance of ignorance. Socrates later makes this concept clear by dramatically uttering that all his wisdom came from his knowledge that he knew nothing (Demand Media 1)
.During the scene of the trial, it’s evident that the Socrates deliberately prefers death. In his defense, it consistently shows how various prejudices made against him have arisen. It also shows how Socrates has the highest probable justification upon the life he has been leading which he termed as the command of God. Obviously, this is an arrogant use of tone and most especially when one is being held on trial for his life. However, Socrates adopts and surpasses this dangerous tone during his trial.
In the Apology, Socrates who is seventy year old present his defense during his trial where he brings out to people’s attention a philosophic concerns of wealth; what concerns a good life and if the un-examined life was not worth living the; the religion convictions, query on death as well as dying, political power and its nature, the existence of truth, and a the manner of philosophic dialogue and argument.
Socrates initiates his defense by stating that his prosecutors were all lying and that he would prove that. Later he asks the jury to permit him to speak is a similar manner as to how he spoke in the market place. This shows that Socrates is unfamiliar with the manner of presenting a speech in court and asks not to be judged according to his speech but on the unjust and just of the cause.
Socrates in the Apology therefore decides to defend himself by attempting to rid the jury against his prosecutors and the false impression they created. Socrates tries to explain to the jury how he gained the reputation of being a professional teacher, a physical philosopher and a sophist through regular activities.
In his defense, Socrates claim that he had a childhood friend called Chaeropphon who went asked in an Oracle for anyone wiser than Socrates but found no one other than Socrates. Since an Oracle could not lie, Socrates went finding for the hidden meaning of his friends proclamation. He defends himself by the interviews he carried out with politicians, craftsmen, poets, and other many people who were known to be wise. Socrates came to the conclusion that the more reputation planted to a person for being wise, the less wise they were. This he explains was the reason that many people were against him as they thought he was trying to show he was wiser by proving others unwise.
In the Apology, Socrates later attempt to prove that he was innocent by referring to a conversation they had with Meletus. Socrates explains that Meletus did not think Socrates was corrupting the young people minds since Meletus stated that the mind of the young is benefited by everybody and therefore Socrates charge was frivolous and an excuse to have Socrates in court. However, the speech Socrates makes does not succeed him into winning a release. He however proposes a reward for himself when he is found guilty as a substitute to death since he thinks himself as a great hero. He suggests a fine but the jury refuse and he is condemned to death through hemlock drinking.
According to Barnett, (1989) he conclude that the Platonic apology is an example of a rare work which elegantly bridges the division between literature and philosophy (Barnett 3). He claims this because in his opinion, the Apology work is less apprehensive in asserting various doctrines in philosophy than it is while creating representations as an ideal philosopher. During trial, Socrates life is at stake; however, he maintains an unwaveringly and cool and defends his life and actions as just. In his opinion, Socrates speech serves as a justification and inspiration for several philosophical thinkers (Cavalier 2). Apology is valuable as it links three different themes in the Socratic thinking; the manner of inquiry of the Socrates (elenchus), the Socratic irony and finally the largest ethical considerations which dominate the life of Socrates.
In the year 1741, Brucker Jacob Johann suggested/ commented that Plato Apology was not a good source that could be trusted concerning the Socrates. He gave his reasons that this was because there was more evidence at that time which had taken into the light theory behind the Apology being philosophical work and not a historical version. Brucker supports his suggestion by stating that it was absurd to question the Delphi Oracle concerning who was wiser than the Socrates if he (Socrates) had not dealt previously with matters pertaining with philosophical issues as contrary the story he made about himself (Cavalier 2).
On the other hand, Noussan-Lettry Luis commented on the phenomenological and existential frameworks on the interpretation of Apology philosophy. He argues that by setting the theme first and then interpreting every passage of the Apology, this dialogue brings the readers openly to the Socratic approach and which makes the platonic apology very comprehensible (Kelley 1). In his opinion, Socrates believed only in the truth above everything and wished to change how other people viewed the world.
In my opinion, Socrates tries to imitate parodies when he asks the jury not to judge him through skills from oratorical but from the truth. This is seen when he declines to use ornate phrases and words which were carefully arranged and request to use his own expressions that he used at money tables and at agora. He correct what the Orators have been doing showing them that they should have been all along be speaking only the truth with persuasive wisdom (Kelley 1). I therefore think that Socrates demonstrates being an orator master who is not only persuasive and eloquent, but also wise.
Also in my opinion, the dialogue also portrays a source of Socratic irony. It’s an irony that the Delphi Oracle proclaims Socrates to be the wisest man since he knew that Socrates himself knew he was not the wisest man. The oracle led Socrates to presume his decidedly stance of irony and confessing on account of his ignorance and demonstrating to his interlocutors that he was even more ignorant. However, I think Socrates wisdom is deeply humbled since it casts every pretension made by human knowledge into query. Socrates does not lecture a one sided manner of his beliefs. This in my opinion supports the thought that he Socrates has his own knowledge put forward. His mechanism of making inquiries involves identifying what others think he knows and later dissecting the attained knowledge claims.
Finally, in my opinion the dialogue also portrays a source of Socratic irony. It’s an irony that the Delphi Oracle proclaims Socrates to be the wisest man since he knew that Socrates himself knew he was not the wisest man. The oracle led Socrates to presume his decidedly stance of irony and confessing on account of his ignorance and demonstrating to his interlocutors that he was even more ignorant. However, I think Socrates wisdom is deeply humbled since it casts every pretension made by human knowledge into query. Socrates does not lecture a one sided manner of his beliefs. This in my opinion supports the thought that he Socrates has his own knowledge put forward. His mechanism of making inquiries involves identifying what others think he knows and later dissecting the attained knowledge claims. Socrates therefore
Cavalier, Robert. Analysis of Plato’s Apology. 2000. Web. 23rd March. 2011.
Dan, Barnett. The Apology. 1989. Web. 23rd March. 2011.
Demand Media. The Apolgy by Plato. 2010. Web. 23rd March. 2011.
< http://www.essortment.com/apology-plato-39714.html Rose, Kelley. Commentary on Plato's Apology of Socrates. 1999. Web. 23rd March. 2011. < http://www.friesian.com/apology.htm>