by Jeff Wilfahrt
Aug 28, 2014, 8:53 AM

Plato, the Apology and Socratic wisdom

Parallels to the 399 BCE death of Socrates and the political climate of today.

Plato wrote of the demise of Socrates in four dialogues, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo.

Apology as parable in the 21st century American politic (apologia in Greek meaning ‘defense’, Socrates was not sorry nor recanting)


Meletus – the Tea Party expropriated Republican platform

Socrates – progressive arm of the Democratic party

Athenians – the American public

Oracle of Delphi – Science



Young Meletus lays charge that old Socrates is the corruptor of Athenian youth and denier of the gods in the Euthyphro. And so we come to the dialog of the Apology.

Socrates’ accusers have used persuasion but not truth in spoken accusation. (Think climate change, and deregulation, and over taxation underwritten by the Kochs). Persuasive yes, truthful no.

Plato saw this as the pivotal nexus of the dialog.

Persuasion is all around us. Product advertisement being a prime example. We buy things we don’t even need in the first place. We come to accept things we know to be false but subordinate our sense of truth to lies.

Any clever politician can sway public policy though the argument flies in the face of truth. (Think Reagan, the Bushes, the Kochs and ilk).

Within the Apology Socrates indicates that unlike his accusers the truth will be spoken, even if the truth is bare of persuasive speech. He knows that his public reputation as spoiler of youth, a Sophist, will be his demise, he knows he will not die because what he has stated is true.

Socrates proclaims he is neither wise nor a man capable of imparting virtue. He indicates a friend had travelled to Delphi asking the Oracle is anyone wiser than Socrates. Nay says the Oracle, Socrates is the wisest but he himself was perplexed by this statement.

Socrates approaches fellow Athenians known to be wise asking them about the nature of virtue, from the Greek arete meaning excellence. He concludes they know no nothing though they claim they did. In short they were self delusional. (Sounds like Republican platform planks).

Socrates himself claims he knew not a whit about virtue. Unlike these Athenians he admits to his ignorance.

It is in this vein that the wisdom of Socrates resides.

Awareness of self ignorance is today known as Socratic wisdom.

The antithesis is the Republican platform.


Progressives may fail at persuasion but they do aspire to virtue and truth.


Recommended viewing:

The Revisionaries, 2012, 

Available for streaming on Netflix. You’ll see who the real corrupters of American youth are and how they are accomplishing that end. The best and scariest 92 minutes you’ll pass on the subject of education in America today.




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