Jorge Rico Vera
October 11, 2016
GSI: Jerilyn Sambrooke
A Rhetorical Precis On Plato’s, Apology
In the Apology there is a section in which Socrates uses the oracle of Delphi to explain to his audience, those who have put him on trial, that he in fact is the wisest of men in society. Being the wisest of men in society, means that he knows what is true and virtuous, therefore, he is not to be guilty of such accusations that have been brought up against him. In the accusations, the strongest one of them all is that he is teaching the “youth” fallacies and is deceiving them from the truth. Socrates understands that he is doing the whole complete opposite, for he knows that he is a virtuous man and speaks nothing but the truth.
The oracle of Delphi is used as a reference when Socrates states, “what can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men?”. He tries to understand what god means by such statement since Socrates himself considers to have no wisdom, therefore there must be a man wiser than himself, concluding that the oracle is a fallacy, but the dilemma is that god would not make such a strong statement because it would be against his nature. Essentially the oracle of Delphi is setting up the foundation in which Socrates will actually use to anger even more, those who have put him on trial, giving them another reason to sentence him to death.
Socrates develops a plan to prove to himself and to god, that there are wiser men in society, he does so by first going up to a politician who was considered to have wisdom and thinks of himself of knowing and understanding such knowledge. Yet, when Socrates goes up to him and starts an intellectual conversation, he is already coming to the conclusion in his head that this politician whose name is not mentioned, is not wise at all, rather he is far from acquiring such a “beautiful” thing. It is during this first examination that Socrates states, “he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither now or think that I know”. The argument is that Socrates understands and acknowledges that he, himself knows nothing, as compare to the politician who thinks of himself to know wisdom, is worse off since he is ignorant of who he is and of what he thinks he knows. In the same way, the politician represents all those who have put him on trial, and they are the one’s actually listening to Socrates as he is delivering the message. In doing such an action, Socrates is defying their authority at their own home by stating that they are the ones that are wrong since they know nothing of what is virtuous and true. Socrates knows that the oracle is actually infuriating them all, instead of creating empathy towards him during his own trial. This is purposely done because Socrates is not trying to generate this empathy feeling, but is speaking what he knows best, and that is the truth.
The politician does not only represent those who practice politics, but also poets, philosophers and anyone who practices a kind of art that he thinks understands and knows. Socrates is essentially putting powerful figures in Athenian society on trial, for they are the ones to be judged for not knowing that they know nothing of, yet make money and teach their art. Socrates asserts himself to be an indispensable philosopher, that is the wisest men of them all, and such argument is reinforced with the oracle of Delphi. He was able to influence me that he actually is innocent, and that in fact the politicians should be the ones on trial. Yet, the audience in which the context is written, is pulled towards the side that Socrates should be sentenced to death for all the “evil” he has asserted onto Athenian society. The argument that Socrates makes is that he will not use his argumentative skills to persuade his audience into condemning him innocent. He instead uses the oracle to show who should actually be on trial and reinforces the fact that he is the wisest amongst men. The hostility that came by embarrassment from the politicians towards Socrates, is caused by his ability to stay true and virtuous throughout the entire trial. This outcome leads to the final sentencing of death, for Socrates.