At Apology (41d) Socrates says that a ‘good man is not harmed in life or death’. Throughout the dialogue he also discusses his ‘divine sign’ which prevents him from engaging in wrong doing. In another dialogue the Gorgias Socrates says that ‘doing what’s unjust is actually the worst thing there is’ and that it is better to suffer injustice then to do it (Gorg. 469b-c). These ideas seemed highly counter-intuitive to Socrates’ own audience and perhaps even more so to our own way of thinking. Since at least the time of Thomas Hobbes an emphasis has been placed on ‘self-preservation’ as a hallmark of rationality. Yet here in the Apology Socrates deliberately responds to the jury in a way that imperils his life. There are two questions here which can be taken in turn or separately. 1)Is Socrates being irrational in the way that he acts before the jury; would it have been more rational for him to act in another way(Apol. 36a-39e)? 2) Is Socrates correct that good man can’t be harmed in life or death? in what sense is this true? if at all? even if the good man is not harmed by others, could one be unjust to one’s self by not adequately defending oneself? is Socrates guilty of this sort of injustice as Crito seems to hint (Crito 45c-d)? Respond to any or all of the above and end your posting with a question of your own.
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Philosophy discussion 3
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