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Plato’s the Apology

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  1. Introduction
  2. 'Students of nature' and the 'sophists'
  3. Wisdom is defined as the awareness one has of his or her own knowledge
  4. Conclusion

In 399 BCE, Socrates had to stand trial in Athens. He faced five hundred judges to whom he presented his defense (????????). His accusers, three citizens led by Meletus, charged him with disregarding the gods of the city and corrupting the youth. But Socrates felt the need to answer other implicit charges from numerous earlier accusers like the author Aristophanes who, in his Clouds, depicted him as ?a wise man, a student of all things in the sky and below the earth, who makes the worse argument the stronger? (Apology, 18b). Plato, one of Socrates' followers, wrote an account of this trial between 5 and 10 years later. Historiography teaches us that even though it is Plato who wrote the Apology his own philosophical thoughts were not as present in it as in others of his later works. Therefore the account he makes of Socrates' plea must be fairly accurate. However, this text is much more than the minutes of Socrates' trial; in fact it represents a manifesto in which Socrates operates a significant shift in the history of thought, distinguishing himself from all the thinkers who preceded him by inquiring into the very definition of philosophy (?????????). By first explaining how different he is from these early thinkers, he displays a new understanding of knowledge and wisdom before finally explaining how his commitment to philosophy has far-reaching consequences.

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