In society, there are tensions between the benefits and dangers of personal philosophy. Given the philosophical ideas that Socrates and his colleagues disseminated to the people of Athens, Greece, there was a high likelihood that religious figures and rulers would raise objections. Many people thought that the ideas labeled as “Socratic” were unsound. Antisthenes, for example, records Socrates’ words that “virtue is sufficient for happiness,” “the wise man is self-sufficient,” and “the virtuous are noble and friends” (Stokes and Michael 40). People were agitated by these words because the philosophical statements were incomprehensible without careful examination. Aristotle, as a natural philosopher seemed to be very powerful in learning about nature, adapted natural philosophy, had persuasive skills, finally examined the gods and gave elaborations about theocracy (Hackforth and Reginald 73). In fact, the oracle revealed to him that there was no one in Athens wiser than Socrates. Among these endeavors, there prevails great benefits and a tension rises because the dangers also prevails. The paper will seek to use the Socrates defense to explain the benefits and dangers of philosophy for the society.
The persuasive abilities from Socrates’s sophism created tension on the dangerous side of his philosophy. Socrates was accused on impiety and corruption of the youth because he had shared capabilities with the youth to the extent of making worse arguments into the better argument. The knowledge he had to persuade was distrusted by the Athenians (Sellars and John 433). He could argue out the right case for the wrong one. The notion brings about the tension in the society. When people are able to persuade the judges and other people in the authority, it is argued that justice would never prevail. However, he provided a defense during his trial and said: “I have no wisdom to teach and I cannot be held responsible for the actions of those who heard me speak” (Stokes and Michael 81). From this defense, the claim he gives makes a positive or rather an advantageous side of the philosophy. Socrates argues that people should not just listen to him talking about the knowledge he is giving and follow it to do wrong (Miller and Platter 51). Tension arises because of the benefits of enlightening the youth, but also the danger prevails because some of these youths were not able to practice the basic or fundamental principles of philosophy without committing offences or crimes in the society.
Socrates’s stance on political philosophy, based on theocracy contributes to the tension in the society. To some extent, he did not believe in the gods of Greek. He was against the ruling class who persecuted citizens who did not acknowledge the divine emperor. The idea had conflicting interests to the society because, it promoted a spirit of revolution towards the poor leadership based on gods. The other side of Socrates’s notion on ridiculing the political empire is that there is a danger for the society to abandon its beliefs and live barely on philosophical ideas. His defense towards the accusation on denouncing the gods and divine unjust rule was the following: “A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life if he is to survive for even a short time” (Stokes and Michael 82). This shows the prevailing tension between the benefits and dangers of philosophy to the society. The unjust leadership wants nobody to criticize it, when philosophers tends to be wiser and enlighten the society, they are slain with no justice.
Socrates’s concept of virtues has created tension between its advantages and dangers. Socrates says: “If one wants to know about virtue, one should consult an expert on virtue” (Miller and Platter 69). Virtues such as justice and truth have been given another scope by Socrates’s philosophy. The universality of these elements always bring tension in the society (Stokes and Michael 85). The elements of virtues help the society to live harmoniously. When Socrates says that virtues can only be learnt from expert of virtue, he defended himself from those who would seek his counsel. However, the society did not embrace the virtues of justice, fairness, and truth. This resulted to a discord in the society. In legal sectors, people wanted to persuade within the philosophical knowledge and evade justice, therefore, truth was hidden.
In conclusion, there exists both the benefits and dangers of philosophy to the society. The way in which the philosophical thoughts are disseminated to the people in a certain society can have either positive or negative impacts. However, Socrates and his philosophical team, Plato and then Aristotle promoted the society through enlightening it to see the prevailing issues in religion and political phenomena, since philosophy majors with wisdom. It aims at asking rhetorical questions and developing curiosity as well as fighting ignorance. Through the process, there have to be some dangers related to seeking the knowledge. For instance, Socrates’s quest to understand nature led him to question the divine empire and the gods of Greece. It also assisted in understanding nature and the social contexts of the Greeks. These tensions cannot be avoided. Any attempt to avoid philosophical based tension would kill curiosity and a desire to learn new things as Plato explains through the allegory of the cave. Therefore, tension exists between the benefits and dangers of philosophy in the society.
Hackforth, Reginald. The composition of Plato’s Apology. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Miller, P., Platter, C. Plato’s Apology of Socrates: A Commentary. University of Oklahoma Press, 2012
Sellars, John. “Plato’s Apology of Socrates: A Metaphilosophical Text.” Philosophy and Literature, vol. 38, no. 2, 2014, pp. 433-445.
Stokes, Michael C. Plato: Apology of Socrates. Aris & Phillips, 1997.