Corruption Socrates was known to question the authority

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personally believe you cannot have corruption without bias.  Bias is favoring a side or belief over
another. Therefore, I believe corruption means to rebel against a side or a
thought process, meaning that there has to be two sides to an argument. In the
Apology the two sides are represented through Socrates and Meletus. In the
Apology, Socrates’ definition of corruption is never clearly stated. However, a
general understanding of his view on corruption can be inferred through his
dialogue and interaction with Meletus. Meletus accused Socrates of corrupting
the youth of Athens. Throughout his life, Socrates was known to question the
authority of people in power, or people that were seen as “better off”. He
questioned those who society perceived as wise. He did this because of a deep
seated belief he had in what the oracle of Delphi told him regarding his own
wisdom. The Delphic oracle, Pythian, revealed to him that there was no one
wiser, so he deduced this was  because he
knew and acknowledged that he truly knew nothing (Apology, 21b). Consequently,
he believed it his duty to share that wisdom with others who were ignorant. He
believed that he was teaching them to learn through questioning; to learn
through accessing the knowledge already contained in their minds (Meno). 

believed that the essence of true virtue was wisdom and the pursuit of wisdom.
Socrates’ method of achieving wisdom was through questioning. As a result, he
taught the youth to question with the goal of achieving wisdom through what
they discovered. In contrast, Meletus believes that this questioning is harmful
and rebellious against society and the status quo.  Meletus believes that the law, and therefore
the jurymen and councilors, are the only true people whose duty it is to improve
the youth (Apology, 23e).  Through
teaching the youth of Athens to question the laws and societal norms of the
jurymen and the councilors, Meletus believed Socrates had corrupted them.  Meletus agrees with Socrates when Socrates
states, “It seems that all the Athenians make the young into good people,
except me, and I alone corrupt them.” (Apology, 25a). Socrates believed that if
everyone was wise, there would be no problems. He saw wisdom as the key to a
perfect world. Therefore, he did not understand the court’s disapproval of his
teaching the youth how to properly pursue wisdom. True virtue, in the eyes of
Socrates, was achieved through gaining true wisdom. Anything that prevented
this pursuit was corrupt.

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question then becomes which side is the right side? In the case of Socrates and
Meletus, one must investigate their standings as citizens of Athens. Socrates
was a philosopher. He questioned the status quo, laws and people in positions
of power in order to obtain untouched knowledge. On the other hand, Meletus,
Socrates’ accuser, was a prosecutor. Meletus was an Athenian in a position of
power, who felt that Socrates corrupted the youth through teaching them to
question those in charge. Corruption is a popular term that is applied to a
variety of situations, from Meletus’ use of it as corruption of the mind to the
popular idea of corruption of power. Socrates was expanding the understanding
of the youth and enabling them to pursue the wisdom he thought would provide a
better future.  It is true that Socrates
was corrupting the youth of Athens in that he was teaching them in a way that
rebelled against the common ideas of the time. Socrates held an unpopular
opinion. I do not think the question is whether or not Socrates was corrupting
the youth of Athens, I believe that corruption is any rebellion against a side,
and in this case that side is the government of Athens. Consequently, I believe
Socrates is guilty of corruption in the eyes of Meletus, but Socrates was in
fact corrupting for the betterment of mankind.

Categories: Teaching


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