Socrates’ no logic in the mass influence of

Socrates’ Main Argument:

argues that he cannot be held accountable for the charge of corrupting the youth.

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He is accused of being the biggest – if not the only – perpetrator of
corruption of the youth in Athens. Meletus accuses Socrates as the sole
corruptor, but Socrates calls attention to the absurdity of the claim, since Meletus’
complementary argument essentially implies that the rest of Athens influences
the youth in a “positive” way. That should not be the case, however, given that
there is no logic in the mass influence of one corruptor. Socrates explains
this absurdity by using one of his many analogies. He alludes to the constant
influences when explaining that just as there are few horse trainers, so there
are few who are in a position to really “train” the youth (25c, p.22). He later goes on to question Meletus’
insistence on Socrates’ intention to harm. If
Socrates voluntarily hurt the youth, then (since evil leads to evil) they would
hurt him in return, and no rational person hurts himself on purpose (26a, p.22).


Evaluation of Argument:

Socrates is very skillful in
cross-examining Meletus. His statements imply that Socrates is the only one in
the city of Athens who is corrupting the youth. Socrates is able to point out
the many flaws, and he is able to demonstrate Meletus’ lack of credibility. At
the same time, he admits that no sane person would intentionally make the
people worse if he has to live with them all. He asks, finally, if any present
in the court felt that he had corrupted them. Plato and others in the
court/audience demonstrate that they have been actually helped by Socrates.

Consequently, “those around him” also say that Socrates does not
corrupt the youth. From this it follows either that Socrates is not making the
people worse or he is doing so unintentionally.


Objection of Argument:

While these arguments make sense and are
generally well-founded and rationally thought out, there are some moments in
which logic can be addled in regard to other arguments. For example, there is
absolutely no way to prove the fact that Socrates was unaware of his influence
on society. No one person can easily prove their effect on society, but our job
as a collective community follows certain guidelines regarding an implicit
social script. Socrates may have been ahead of his time in not caring for
neither his reputation nor for his influence, but humanity requires a minimum
degree of basic conscientiousness. Furthermore, his analogy of horse trainers
can easily be used against him to question whether or not he is one of the
people qualified to “train” the youth. If he is unable to see the effect that
his questions have on people, can the Athenians really allow him to do what he
considers himself to be so good at? What good do those questions serve
ethically in that case? Yes, Socrates’ questions cause a great deal of insight
and introspection, but if the questions come at the cost of inciting antipathy
for the sake of just knowledge, then do the ends really justify the means?




Socrates’ Objection:

Socrates would argue that yes, the ends
do indeed justify the means, especially in the sense that perhaps his questions
are causing a positive change in his “fellow Athenians.” His questions are also
just as harmless as the “advice” given from far-reaching, ignorant “experts”
that are so keen on positively influencing the youth. Additionally, there is no
way to prove that his intentions are pure, but Socrates can also easily refute
that no one person’s intentions are ever truly clear or direct. He considers
himself to be somewhat of an expert in his field because he is always trying to
better himself in his own “art,” rather than trying to pretend he knows more than
he lets on like literally every other “expert” in the area. Not to mention that
the intentions of the so-called experts are also not truly clear. Perhaps in
their lack of knowledge, they are also causing unintentional harm to the youth
by giving misleading information through misunderstanding and overly large
egos. In this case, his questions are consequently ethical in the sense that
they are protecting the youth from misleading information, inflated egos, and
misunderstandings and instead guiding them toward enlightenment… or at least
some proper education through questioning. Either way, these inept “experts”
are also now made to be obviously unqualified to be influencing the youth just
as much as Socrates is made out to be. These experts are not sent to court or
sentenced to death, so Socrates should not be in that situation at all either.