Socrates and Dialectic



Early in the Seventh Letter Plato discusses the trial of Socrates, saying that it was simply corrupt, since the real reason for arresting the older man was his refusal to ally himself with the Thirty. Socrates was charged with impiety and this was ‘sacrilegious’, as he was in fact exceedingly pious. Plato seems to lack subtlety here, for we might expect him to see that in the sense used by the accusers Socrates was ‘impious’ — or something of the sort. The God of Socrates was an entirely new measure of all things, so that Socrates’ proper performance of his religious duties — his piety — was nevertheless steadily undermined. The accusers may have dimly recognised that the life of Socrates had brought a new God into the world, and a new doctrine, specifically a virtuous type of individualism. For some reason modern thinkers have not paid much attention to this God, perhaps associating him a little too readily with the God of Christianity.


Human Race Dialectical Thought Religious Duty Dialectical Reason Creative Adaptation 
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© Keith M. May 1993

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