Let me be or let me die
In my previous post I skipped over majority of the beginning of “The Apology” focusing more on the second half of the dialogue. In doing so I didn’t talk about much of what was discussed in class. After having our class discussion, I gained new insight into Socrates such as what his mission is and what he cares about and loves.
To me it was obvious that his true passion was philosophy. He says to the courts, “As long as I draw breath, I shall not cease to practice philosophy,” (34). He states that even if the punishment or practicing philosophy would be death, he would still do it. This also ties in to Socrates and his obedience. When he mentions this he also mentions that he would be more obedient to the gods over that of the council men. Looking at it like this, it is apparent that Socrates is both obedient and disobedient at the same time. He disobeys the commands of man and listens to the Gods, for they are what is right.
Through saying this, a few parallels can be drawn between Socrates’s speech and Stanley Milgram’s experiment. In a way,socrates is seen as being disobedient and following his virtues when it comes to Milgrams experiment. Instead of listening to the proctor of the test, Socrates listens to himself and to the God’s. He chosses diliberatly to practice philosophy and question those who think they are wise when in fact they really are not. This causes him to be disliked by many people of the city, especially the “wise”. Usually one would stop doing whatever it is they were doing that caused fellow citizens to not like them but socrates follows what he loves and believes in. That is he believes that all men’s knowledge is worthless, “The man among you mortals, is wisest who, like Socrates, understands that his wisdom is worthless,” (27). This parallel is a bit hard to see so lets take it to a less literal level.
So, Milgrams experiment allowed us to see how men would obey, respect or listen to authority and how far they would obey. Socrates’s dialogue shows how Socrates was a very disliked man and would make others question and ultimately doubt their own wisdom. He would constantly question men into making them contradict themselves. He did this not to try and make himself seem wisest but he did so in order to prove a point that all men know is nothing at all; those who think they know everything, really know nothing. Now, connecting this to Milgram’s experiment, it can be seen that Socrates did not really obey authority at all. He questioned and question authority, the wise, until he proved them wrong. By doing so, it displays his disobedience yet on another not shows his obedience to the authority of his “god”. He directly obey’s god by by trying to find those who think they are wise and attempts to prove them wrong. Socrates say’s when he finds a man who he feels isn’t wise he assists the god and “show[s] him that he is not” (27). In this sense he is just as obedient as he is disobedient.