Philosopher and literary critic Allan Bloom (1968) writes that "The Republic is the true Apology of Socrates, for only in the Republic does he give an adequate treatment of the theme which was forced on him by Athens' accusation against him. That theme is the relationship of the philosopher to the political community" (p. 307). What are we to make of such a claim? A more popular approach is to view the Apology and Republic as accomplishing different goals, with the former providing a historical portrait of Socrates on trial while the latter concerning itself with Plato's theory of the forms, and how they relate to the state and the individual. Though the two dialogues may be mutually reinforcing, they nonetheless perform different functions and address different subjects. This point is buoyed by the fact that most contemporary scholarship views the authorship of Plato critically, in that those texts he wrote early in his career did not seek to accomplish the same goals nor advocate the same system of philosophy which the latter texts did, such as the Republic. This being the case, Plato would have been in two very separate mind frames when writing the Apology and the Republic; to compare the two as inferior and superior is to miss this point.
[...] This is because Socrates' defense is more practical through its focus on dismissing the allegations brought against him, while Plato's needs to assume an entire metaphysical system and a radical (and radically unlikely) transformation of society to justify the philosophic personality. Conclusion The inadequacy of Plato's defense in practice leads us to question Bloom's statement that the Republic and the Apology serve the same purpose. Just because the Republic provides a justification of philosophy in terms of politics does not make it an effective case for defending the specific allegations against a specific philosopher. [...]
[...] In other words, whereas Socrates seeks to justify philosophy within the context of present government and society, Plato's Republic challenges the preconceived ideas of the structure of society in favour of one which will realize the philosophic lifestyle more readily. This, of course, leads to Plato's classic statement that until the philosophers rule as kings or those now called kings and chiefs genuinely and adequately philosophize, and political power and philosophy coincide in the same place, while the many natures now making their way to either apart from the other are by necessity excluded, there is no rest from ills for the cities . [...]
[...] Had Socrates presented Plato's metaphysical theory of forms as a defense in the actual proceedings, it is likely that he would have lost the vote by an even greater margin, as Plato's Republic is clearly a practically untenable alternative. However, if taken simply as a thought experiment which explores the nature of the Good as it would best be realized in the state, the Republic is a vital document. The problem in comparing it to the Apology is that the Apology seeks to justify the existence of philosophy as something salutary in the political community, while the Republic seeks to justify the eminence of philosophy with the political community. [...]
[...] He says that even if laws are passed against his philosophizing, then as long as I draw breath and am able, I shall not cease to practice philosophy, to exhort you and in my usual way to point out to any one of you whom I happen to meet: Good Sir, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city with the greatest reputation for both wisdom and power; are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom or truth, or the best possible state for your soul? [...]
[...] To make this argument, first I intend to show how the Apology is fundamentally different than the Republic in scope and source; then I shall consider both defenses in terms of the allegations made in the Apology; finally, I shall end by evaluating the defenses, determining which one is the stronger and more potent in refuting the allegations made against philosophy. The Problem of Socrates To answer the question of whether the Republic provides a better defense for Socrates than the Apology, we must first come to terms with the Socratic problem. [...]
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