- Based on Plato’s dialogue, Apology, assess the charge leveled against Socrates of corrupting the youth of Athens. (a) Do you think Socrates corrupted the youth of Athens? If so, why? If not, why not? (b) Summarize and critically evaluate Socrates’ defense on this particular accusation – was his defense convincing to you or not? Why or why not?
On Socrates’s charges of corrupting the youth of Athens, I don’t think he corrupted the youth. I can see, however where the judges might think he was corrupting the youth. When he had heard that he was the wisest man in the world from the oracle, he felt the need to challenge that, as he didn’t believe himself to be the wisest man in the world. In doing so, he began to question poets, politicians, and craftsmen. He figured that by questioning people of all different classes and positions he’d be able to find somebody who was wiser than he was, however in his mind, with every examination, he failed. This led the youth of Athens to begin to emulate and imitate him, by performing their own examinations on others. This could be the “corruption” of which the Athenian judges were referring. Another “corruption they posited was that Socrates was an Atheist and taught his followers that there were no gods, and that he taught that the sun was made of stone, and the moon was made of earth. Socrates defended here, stating that these were the theories of a different philosopher.
Going more into his defense, he began to examine one of the judges on the crime of corrupting the youth through his examination method. He consistently poked holes in the accused charge, showing that he was indeed, not an atheist, as well as stating that if he was corrupting the youth, he should have been taken aside and told he was doing so. He also mentioned that at his age, he should be able to tell the difference between someone attempting to help or hurt him. I can say his argument convinced me that he was not attempting to intentionally corrupt the youth of Athens, although he went about it rather arrogantly in my view. – Bill