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  • Published on: 21st September 2019
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Paste your essay in here...Topic:  Carefully explain the teachings of Socrates about life, wisdom, virtue, evil, and death in Plato's Apology. Provide some assessment of Socrates' philosophy based on your own experiences and opinions.

By: Francesco Armato

In Plato's Apology, he touches upon the teachings of life, wisdom, virtue, evil and death.  These five teachings that he spoke of, really made me reflect about the past experiences of my life and how these teachings will provide insightful and beneficial information to me in the future as I go on to continue my journey in this thing we call life.  Life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.  The four other topics are all based on the gift of life.  Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.  Virtue is behavior showing high moral standards.  Evil is defined as profoundly immoral and malevolent and Death is defined as the action or fact of dying or being killed.  Below, I will express my story and opinions based on Socrates philosophy on the five topics he speaks about.  

Wisdom.  Wisdom like I stated earlier Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.  This is the first teaching that Socrates speaks about in The Apology.  In my life, I have had the pleasure of meeting a ton of people.  People who thought they were smart, dumb, stupid, genius and a godsend.  I came to the realization when I was about 13 or 14 that certain people have more wisdom regarding certain life events than others.  A kid growing up in poverty and struggling would have more wisdom on how to survive and overcome his circumstances versus a kid who grew up rich and privileged.  One isn't smarter than the other, but because of the certain life experiences that a person goes thru, they are wiser regarding certain topics.  As a product of a divorced family, I believe I would be better suited to aid children who are going thru the parental divorce process.   Socrates was accused of not believing in gods as well as, teaching how to make weaker arguments overcome stronger arguments with cleaver wording.  Socrates admits that he developed a reputation for wisdom but he says that he is unable to teach wisdom to another person.  Socrates looked for Athenian men who were highly accredited for having great wisdom.  He goes out and questions politicians, poets, and skilled craftsmen.  While questioning politicians, he realized that despite the fact they appeared wise, they didn't know anything at all.  While questioning Poets, despite the fact they wrote great pieces of writing, they couldn't explain the meaning of what they wrote.  Socrates credits the works of literature from inspiration rather than wisdom.  While questioning craftsmen, they had great wisdom regarding the craft they practice but other than that, they were not able to articulate wisdom on any other topic.  In each case, Socrates agrees that he would rather be as he is, knowing that he knows nothing than to be tricked into thinking that he has a great wisdom on various topics.  The whole argument reminded me of a quote my father used to say to me “Stick to your guns.”  Don't go around thinking or perceiving that you know everything.  Eventually, you will run into someone who knows a great deal about the certain topic, and you will be made to look like a fool.  I consider myself to be a pretty knowledgeable sports fan specifically about Basketball.  I played, coached, read and watched Basketball all my life.  Whenever a person wants to talk Basketball with me I feel pretty comfortable or well versed on that topic.  If you want to talk to me about Cars or mechanical issues I would have no idea on to even start that conversation.

The second and third topics seem to go hand and hand.  Virtue and Evil.  Virtue is the behavior showing high moral standards.  Evil is defined as profoundly immoral and malevolent.  As a product of an Italian-American family and neighborhood, virtue is in the eye of the beholder.  A kid who doesn't “rat” or fails to tell the truth on an issue that can cause people to get incarcerated, is looked at as a stand-up guy.  Even though he knew what the truth, he kept his mouth shut and didn't give up the perpetrator.  Growing up in Queens, you see things that people growing up in the suburbs or out of the five boroughs could never really relate to.  You see things like officers of the law not exactly acting to code, public officials taking money under the table, people trying to pull a scam, robbing, drug dealing, and bookmaking.  I have seen a countless amount of good, hardworking and honest people get sucked into the life of the streets. Unfortunately for me, some of those people were very close friends and family members.  I chose to try to better myself, get educated and try to get ahead in life.  Socrates is accused of corrupting the young minds and believing in something of his own thoughts other than the gods.  Socrates asks Meletus to translate what is considered to be a good influence and who should be well versed in the laws.  Meleteus states that the jurymen are responsible for knowledge of the laws and then he makes an astronomical claim that the entire population of Athens is a good influence on the youth except for Socrates.  Socrates makes an analogy to a horse and horse trainer.  Only the horse trainer can properly influence the horse for his better good.   Socrates quote is perfectly applicable to modern day life.  Growing up I wanted to be a basketball player.  My grandfather always said to me “Don't hang out with crap, otherwise you start smelling like crap.”  I started to associate myself with kids and young men who were considered the best ballplayers in the neighborhood.  My cousin Joe grew up wanting to be a mechanical engineer.  He ended up hanging with the wrong crowd of people, kids who were involved in organized crime and kids who had no interest in receiving an education.  He ended up getting arrested a couple of years ago right before high school graduation.  He is now a convicted felon with no future.  If my cousin decided to hang out with smarter kids or the “nerds” of the school, he very well could be a mechanical engineer right now.  Socrates is then accused of willingly doing harm to people he is in contact with and that leads to harm for all of the society.  Socrates argument is if I am willingly doing evil or harm to people that I am in contact with and I knowingly realize that it will lead to harm for myself, would I be crazy enough to actually do that?  Evil is defined as profoundly immoral and malevolent.  Socrates clearly isn't immoral or malevolent but in my eyes misunderstood.  He clearly is doing things unintentionally if they are going to harm him in the end.  This is a case of ignorance, he is lacking the knowledge or the wisdom to realize that he is harming himself in the end.  A person who accidentally takes a drink or a piece of gum from a store is ignorant.  He may not have realized that he was still in possession of the object or he could have just had a momentary lapse of judgment.  A person who sells drugs is evil.  He willingly goes out of his way to profit from those who are looking to risk their life, health, and state of mind.  He doesn't care if he is causing a great epidemic throughout his community, he is only interested in profiting and exploiting the people of his community.  In the 1980's the streets of New York City were in shambles because of the crack cocaine epidemic.  Young individuals saw an opportunity to profit greatly from the socio-economic issues of the community in which the resided and completely flood the streets with this highly addictive substance.  It starts a problem in the community because, the children of the community look up to these drug dealers because they are the ones who are flashing signs of wealth, power and overall dominance in a society of chaos.  These children aspire to do the same things that these corrupted and evil individuals are doing.  

Death is defined as the action or fact of dying or being killed.  Socrates asks himself before the jury why he should have been so willing to pursue his line of work if the dislike it has earned him has put his life in jeopardy.  Socrates believes that the only questions worth asking are whether your acting justly or not.  Life and death are selfish next to the act of justice.  Like I stated earlier, Socrates wisdom comes from acknowledging that he does not know what he does not know, and his acknowledgment that he does not know what awaits him in the afterlife leads him not to fear it. A fear of death, then, is just another kind of false wisdom, of claiming to know the unknowable.  On the contrary, he knows that it is wrong to disobey the will of Apollo and stop philosophizing.  Apollo, Socrates claims gave him the gift to philosophize.  Socrates says that he would rather die than give up philosophy.  The message he tries to preach to the youth of Athens is this, wealth and honor are trifling concerns next to the concerns of truth and the perfecting of the soul.  Socrates states that “putting an innocent man to death is far worse and thus far more to be feared, than dying oneself.”    Death is a tricky subject.  As a product of a devout Catholic family, I believe in the afterlife of heaven and hell.  I believe that if I live a just life with quality morals and values I will go to heaven.  Can I be certain of these beliefs? No.  The theory of Karma to me is something that always made sense to me.  Do good things to others and you will get good things to happen to you in return.  I do agree 100% with Socrates statement regarding putting an innocent man to death.  I am not afraid of death, I personally would rather die in the fight of the beliefs that I believe rather conform to the thoughts and ideologies of something I hate.  Our belief system good or bad is what makes us who we are as human beings.  My great grandfather died as a soldier in World War II.  My grandmother always said he went to war because he couldn't stand to see the country he loved change for the worse.  That is the message that Socrates is trying to relay to the jury.  Socrates believed that death was a blessing.  

Life.  Life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.  Socrates is found guilty.  Meletus proposes the punishment of the death penalty for Socrates.  Socrates is given the ability to pick an alternative punishment and asks to be given free dining where victorious athletes from the Olympics eat. Similar to his refusal to beg the jury for mercy, Socrates refuses to beg for the death penalty to be commuted. Simply to do so for personal reasons, or out of fear, would be unjust and disgraceful. The only reason for commuting the penalty would be if it were an unjust penalty. Socrates does indeed consider the penalty to be unjust, not because it is so tough, but because it was brought to the surface of the jury.  The jury votes again giving Socrates the death penalty.  Socrates warns that they will be blamed for putting a wise man to death.  He realizes that if he were to just give a speech regarding how sorry he was and how he didn't intend to try to educate and spread his philosophies he probably would be acquitted.  To his credit, he does what he believes is right and what he stands for, he takes his punishment.  Socrates believes that a good man has nothing to fear either in this life or the next.  He denies any harsh feelings toward the people who accused him.  He concludes the writing with this statement “Well, now it is time to be off, I to die and you to live, but which of us has the happier prospect is unknown to anyone but God.”  The quote means that even though he is served to death, he still thinks that he had a happier and more meaningful life than the people who put him to death cause of his “wrongdoings”.  When I was a teenager, I was suspended from school because a teacher of mine made a racist joke regarding Italians and I used a couple of choice words in my response.  When my parents were notified of why I was being suspended they weren't mad at me, they were proud of me.  Despite the fact that a teacher, a well-educated person, a person who had more power than me in their classroom and a grown adult made this comment, I didn't let it go.  I addressed to them that it isn't ok to make a stereotypical statement regarding an entire group of people.  I proudly took my suspension because I knew I did the right thing.  Socrates took his death penalty because deep down inside, he knew that he wasn't wrong and that his values and morals were the correct ones.  Whether its popular belief or not stand for your beliefs.  

In Plato's Apology, he touches upon the teachings of life, wisdom, virtue, evil and death.  Life is the courage to stand up what you believe in on your time on earth.  Having the courage to despite popular belief do what you think is right.  Wisdom is having the ability to know when to speak and when not to.  Socrates believes that he is wiser than everyone because of his realization of not knowing anything.  Socrates and evil is more a case of ignorance than an act of being evil.  Socrates doesn't intentionally mean to act evil so it's a cause of ignorance than an act of being evil.  Death is not being afraid to die what you believe in.  If you were to die for what you think is the right thing, the afterlife you have will be full of bliss.  Dying for what you believe in is better than conforming to something you don't believe in.  These five teachings that he touched upon are all things that I agree with.  The philosophy that is being preached her just makes rational sense.  It was one of the best pieces of literature I have ever read.  “Well, now it is time to be off, I to die and you to live; but which of us has the happier prospect is unknown to anyone but God.”  

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