Tuesday, 21 January 2020

The Democratic Life of Socrates

There is a contradiction between the political views of Socrates and his way of life. In Plato’s Republic, he talks about five types of states: first, Aristocracy, or a state ruled by the best man or best men; second, timocracy, or a state ruled by men of honor and ambition; third, oligarchy, or a state ruled by the moneyed class; fourth, democracy, or a state ruled by free people; fifth, tyranny or a state ruled by a totally unjust man. In his hierarchy of different types of states, democracy is awarded a lowly fourth position, but in his own life, he shows a preference for the democratic state. Unlike Plato and Aristotle, he never ventures out of democratic Athens—his entire life is spent in the city-state. He eagerly fights for Athens in wars, and when an Athenian jury sentences him to death, he does not oppose the verdict. His pupils advise him to flee and save his life, but in deference to the Athenian laws, Socrates quietly accepts his fate.

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