Plato: Republic Socrates Is Probably Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

From this we need to understand that the existence of entities, beings which superior power and knowledge is accepted.

People not only accept that these being actually exist, but they obey their commands. From this one can deduce that morality is connected with power. People obey the commands of the gods because the gods are what they are. The implications are that on the one side, the gods have access to supreme knowledge and hence they know and set the truth and that, on the other hand they are powerful enough to impose their knowledge of truth to the ones who are less powerful. but, being less powerful implies the idea that one is also afraid of those who are more powerful.

Therefore, truth loses its value in itself and becomes correlated and supported by the possession of power. It becomes more and more obvious that this can not be the case with oral goodness. The circumstances could vary and therefore the entire definition becomes highly relative, losing its validity.

The citizens of Athens accused and condemned Socrates for being a philosopher. They believed that the manner in which he judged things represented a danger for the community so he had to be eliminated.

The truth is that the inhabitants of the city were afraid of Socrates because he was questioning the already existing law and their fundaments. He was in fact wondering what justice was and what was the role of the gods upon defining it. Not only was he questioning laws which the Athenians probably considered to be something natural, but the also encouraged other people to do it. In other words he was threatening the stability of the city which rendered him very dangerous.

According to Plato, the importance of the philosopher fro the city is bigger than the possibility of him harming the community. According to him, the philosopher is a person who questions everything. This allows for people to keep their perspectives objective, always looking for arguments to justify their choices and using reason. According to Bloom, the very role of the philosopher is to help build the city and maintain it prosperous.

The only manner to do this is through the use of reason. And a philosopher, especially one such as Socrates was an expert in doing this. under these circumstances it might very well be stated that the Republic is a sort of apology for Socrates and an argument pleading in his defence.

The question that Socrates makes is probably the most important from the entire dialogue. He wants to know if the pious is loved because it is pious or it becomes pious because it is loved. Is there a causal relation between piousness and the gods? And if so, which is the direction. Does the fact that the gods love something make that something pious, or on the contrary, it is the pious nature of a thing which makes it be loved by the gods?

If we are to assume that goodness is caused by the love of the gods, the direct implication is that whatever the gods love, indistinctively becomes pious. The reason for which they might love something are not considered relevant and therefore the causes for piety become rather arbitrary.

If the gods like or love something, then we should deduce that the very nature of that thing makes it lovable. The role of the gods should therefore be only to recognize that value which the things have in themselves.

On the other hand we might think that god too has the role of recognizing the value which things have regardless of god's attitude towards them. Under these circumstances something would be good independently from god and outside his will. This would mean that it exists outside god's will.

A further implication would be that this something came into being in a manner which is independent of god's doing. Consequently one might judge that since something exists outside the will and creation of god than god is not omnipotent. It would be absurd to think that he decided to create only some things and allow others to come into being by themselves as long as he has access to the absolute knowledge and truth. Either this, or he is not omniscient, nor omnipotent. But in this case, is he still god? Apparently the answer is "no."

If we are to interpret the gods as a metaphor for god than the entire matter becomes a bit more profound. If god is omnipotent and omnipotent this implies that he not only created everything that exists but he also established which are the standards according to which things must be judged and appreciated.

Value is decided according to his own will. Therefore, in an arbitrary manner things would acquire value. His will makes things valuable regardless of what they are. This hypothesis is not strong enough in order to acquire validity.

Justice needs to exist because it is just for it to exist. This may sound paradoxical but it is the truth since there has always been a clear distinction between the good and evil. People understand what is good and what it is not, generally speaking. The problem is to decide upon the just character depending on the particularity of every specific case without damaging the pure character of justice itself. All these issues are acknowledged by the philosopher. It is his responsibility to do so and even if he is bringing disorder into the community through his questioning of the laws and the gods, he must not be punished for it.

His goal is to seek the truth and defend it and this is what Socrates did. It may be true that his actions might have damaged the city in terms of stability, but it is just as true that he benefited from a long-term perspective upon things that the others did not. or, if we wish for a more realistic and more ironic interpretation, we might as well state that the Athenian city was undergoing a period of decay.

This decay was manifested not only in the form of military defeat in the conflict with Sparta, but also in the very morality of the inhabitants. As far as their habits and preferences are concerned, they were becoming more and more corrupt. Socrates' declarations and actions were nothing more than a reaction to this state of decay. Under these circumstances his actions can be interpreted as an attempt to save the city and not destroy it.

This is an argument that Plato clearly manages to demonstrate in his Republic. Demonstrating this he is doing nothing else but defending his teacher and his behaviour through an insight which is deeper than the apology that Socrates himself is believed to have written in order to defend himself. Historians and philosophers have claimed that Socrates was smart enough in order to be able to escape the accusations brought by his fellow Athenians. The fact that he did nit do it proves that he did not wish to do it. There are several implications which can be discussed under these circumstances.

First and foremost, it may be suggested that Socrates was not afraid of dying. This not only makes him a very free being, but also explains why he did not defend himself better in the confrontation with people the intelligence of whom he had defeated various times before. Secondly it may be suggested that his refusal to defend himself better is a manifestation of his ego, in the sense he could not accept any compromise and that he believed the value of truth of his judgements was so obvious that it was futile to insist upon other demonstrations.

Some might also argue that death was not the only alternative. He could have saved his life by choosing to leave the city and go somewhere else. This option however was not possible. Wherever he may have went Socrates remained a philosopher and his responsibilities did not change, nor did his beliefs. The only result he may have achieved was the same situation in a different context since the laws were connected to the gods and their power everywhere in the world.

What Bloom suggests and what I also personally believe to be true as well is that Socrates behaviour is just another argument for proving that his questioning of the laws and of the gods was right. In other words, by doing this he was only fulfilling his responsibility towards the city. The fact that he obeys the laws of the city even under circumstances in which his own life is threatened underlines the respect he has for the city. It would be absurd to respect the city and the community when it comes to his own life, but not do the same when it comes to less personal matters such as justice and its righteous implementation.


Bloom, Allan.…

Sources Used in Document:


Bloom, Allan. The Republic of Plato: second edition Basic Books, 1991

Plato's ethics and politics in the Republic. Retrieved March 22,2009 at

The Republic, notes. Retrieved March 22, 2009 at

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