Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Socrates Was a Badass

The Trial and Death of Socrates authored by the “other great philosopher” Plato, has come under my recent inspection and inquiry after taking about a year off from my initial encounter with the book. Comprised of four distinct dialogues, Socrates protrudes the utmost courage and superiority within his grandiose dialectical method of examination accompanied by his interlocutors. In modern day language, by all accounts and understanding of the English idiom, Socrates would be considered no less than a swanky badass. A badass with words, with phrases, with quips and barbs, and most importantly, with convincing Plato that nobody ever prevailed against any of his contentions thus continually leaving the futile interlocutor walking away head down, disgusted and shamed.

The first and second dialogues represent little importance to me than do the third and fourth dialogues. The first being Euthyphro, a dialogue in which Socrates plays upon one of his most infamous techniques in plastering the raconteur of the passage, Euthyphro, by invoking his Socratic irony. In the end, like all Hollywood movies, the good guy, Socrates, eventually makes the bad guy look like a fool. The second dialogue called The Apology, consisting of Socrates playing ignorant once again, casts all pretensions to human knowledge into uncertainty. As the wisest of them all, Socrates proclaims that he is posited better off the less he thinks he knows. This way he continues to foster discourse amongst truth and will not stop attaining knowledge as an indignant pretentious prick would. (Yes, I am talking about myself)

Now, onto the reason I decided to write this less than amusing and less than interesting article. Hopefully, you have not fallen asleep at the title. The third dialogue, called Crito and starring Crito, is probably the most thought-provoking dialogue ever to be written by Plato. (There are a total of 32 Socratic dialogues) The entire dialogue takes place in Socrates’ prison cell, where he awaits his Athenian court death sentence. Crito comes upon Socrates cell and informs him that he has arranged for Socrates to escape from the prison and has planned his exile in a distant city away from Athens. After a plethora of arguments trying to convince Socrates to leave, Socrates seems to be unconvinced of Crito’s polemics and further questions if what Crito asserts is the right thing to do.

Enter badass. Socrates charges into his elenchus and leaves Crito dumbfounded and without words in the end. Socrates says that he must stay to carry out the state’s sentence, because ultimately he has consented to the rules of the state, and leaving now because the rules inconvenience him, would be a dereliction of duty. He poses the absolutely brilliant question to Crito which is: “Do you imagine that a State can subsist and not be overthrown, in which the decisions of law have no power, but are set aside and overthrown by individuals?" In other words, if individual citizens decide to obey the laws of the city based solely on their private circumstances, then there can be no city and laws at all. Although he issues three other arguments in this discussion, this question is a tough question to answer if you support Crito’s proposition. Crito then concedes without further questioning Socrates’ supremacy and Socrates remains awaiting his fate.

With Socrates accepting his fate, we now turn to his final conversations before his death in Phaedo. Here we can examine empirical evidence that remains consistent with my intellectually charged thesis that Socrates was indeed, nothing less than a badass. It is in this dialogue that we find out that Socrates was not repining death whatsoever. In fact, he even goes so far to declare that since death is merely the separation of the body and soul, that every philosopher, at Death’s doorstep, should gladly accept his fate. In other words, since the philosopher holds true the idea that the body corrupts the soul and that the body merely infringes upon the learning and knowledge of the soul, that the separation will free the mind and give the philosopher what he always has hoped to have. Socrates accepts death on the premise that the body has been a hindrance to his knowledge search thus death will enable him to further himself with merely his soul.

A man who plays ignorance to defeat his cohorts in a Columbo style charade; a man who dabbles in innocuous fun by claiming to know nothing at all yet spreading more wisdom than Michael Moore spreads lies; a man who altruistically accepts death on the principle of keeping the state intact; and a man who willingly accepts death because his body has impeded himself from acquiring total reason and virtue, is nothing other than a mother fucking badass. Thank you, now go read some Nietzsche.

2 comments:

Commie Knight said...

Something I could totally agree on...

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! »