Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Democratic Life of Socrates

There is a contradiction between the political views of Socrates and his way of life. In Plato’s Republic, he talks about five types of states: first, Aristocracy, or a state ruled by the best man or best men; second, timocracy, or a state ruled by men of honor and ambition; third, oligarchy, or a state ruled by the moneyed class; fourth, democracy, or a state ruled by free people; fifth, tyranny or a state ruled by an unjust ruler. 

Socrates places democracy at the fourth position. But in his life, he showed a preference for democracy. Unlike Plato and Aristotle, he never left democratic Athens. His life was spent in the city-state. He fought for Athens in wars, and when an Athenian jury sentenced him to death, he did not oppose the verdict. His pupils advised him to flee and save his life. But in deference to the Athenian laws, Socrates quietly accepted his fate.

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