What is justice for Socrates? To him it probably meant very little since he thought so highly of himself. He thought that he was better than everyone in that courtroom, capable of getting away unscathed and hopefully with his life. He makes one fatal flaw while he proposing other punishments for himself other than the death penalty though. It is at this point in the text that I feel Socrates lets his guard down a bit and lets his personality and cockiness shine through. He states that he has, “…never lived an ordinary quiet life,” (Plato 64). Therefore, normal consequences do not pertain to his superior level and to his very high but intangible, non materialistic, values. Further announcing to the jury, “I did not care for the things that most people care about: making money, having a comfortable home, high military or civil rank, and all the other activities…” (Plato 64) When Socrates announces that there is nothing that he holds in high enough regard for them to take away from him, he presents them with his weak point. Socrates thinks he “…was really too fair-minded to survive if [he] went in for this sort of thing,” (Plato 64) He is too great for such trivialities to be suitable punishment. Furthermore he tells them that he did them a favor, that he was trying to help everyone: “I set myself to do you individually in private what I hold to be the greatest possible service: I tried to persuade each one of you not to think more of practical advantages than of his mental and moral well-being…” (Plato 65). Since Socrates stresses that he was helping them out, not trying to spread his own message but help them all better themselves. He asks them then what he truly deserves, what penalty he chooses to receive, what justice he commands they bring upon him: “What do I deserve for behaving this way? Some reward, gentlemen… a reward which would be appropriate for myself…Nothing could be more appropriate for such a person than dining in the Prythaneum. He deserves it much more than any victor in the races at Olympia…” (Plato 65). Socrates believes that he deserves a reward for corrupting the minds of the young and not the death penalty. He has helped everyone out, helped them to better themselves. Socrates believes that this is worthy of keeping him alive. By telling the jury that he did not care for anything, that they could take nothing but him from his life, he gave them no other option for them to deprive him of. All he had left now was his life and so that is exactly what they took.
Justice According to Socrates
March 21, 2012