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陈清扬
 陈清扬
发布于 2014/07/23 23:25
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Charge of Socrates with impiety

Impiety is heresy, not believing in the Gods the State believed in but he was also accused of teaching false gods. One of his arguments was that he could not be said to be impious since that connotated not believing in Gods while he was also accused of believing in false gods. 

Inasmuch as he won the argument (at least it was convincing and logically sound) he was found guilty. Don't forget that the charges were trumped up and they really expected him to flee and, thusly, prove to everyone that he was not the man of integrity everyone thought he was (he was a staunch supporter of law and order). But, he drank the hemlock and died.

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Socrates' enemies charged him with impiety because they saw him as a political liability; his philosophy contradicted the foundations of Athenian democracy, and two of his disciples were the primary instigators of revolts against the democracy in 411 and 404 B.C. Many of the notable men of the city detested Socrates because his manner of dialectical conversation caused them public embarrassment. Socrates also held religious views unorthodox for the time.

Part of the charge against Socrates was his alleged disbelief in the gods of Athens. Contrary to what many of his detractors asserted, Socrates was not an atheist. But he did not believe in the traditional view of the Greek pantheon. Socrates believed that there was a single God, and he did not believe in a flawed, reproachable God like those depicted in Greek mythology.

Despite the claims of impiety, Socrates' indictment was politically motivated. Socrates did not believe in democracy. He believed that the wise should govern, and he did not think that the people at large had sufficient virtue or wisdom.

Socrates felt that it was democracy that led to Athens' downfall during the Peloponnesian War. He viewed Sparta as having a more exemplary form of government. Two of Socrates' disciples, Alibiades and Critias, led insurrections against the Athenian democracy. Athens' democratic leaders saw Socrates as a cause of political unrest.

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Socrates was prompted to inquire into the essence of piety after he was sentenced to death on the grounds he impious. Socrates' love of challenging and questioning other's knowledge got him accused of creating social unrest. In response to the disturbance, a politician charged Socrates with impiety. Impiety is the most obvious grounds on which to charge an inquiring mind, because religion is not open to questioning. In theory a democratic political system, like that of Athens, should allow subjects to challenge ideas, however the Athenian democratic system was young and religious matters were still thought of as untouchable by humans. Therefore, Socrates' method of inquiry to acquire knowledge of the spiritual was unacceptable and threatening to Athenians.

Socrates' inquiry into the nature of piety was in the same manner that inspired his indictment for impiety. Socrates found Euthyphro, a man who claimed to understand piety, and asked him to define it.

Socrates found his answer wanton and made Euthyphro's ignorance clear. Socrates did not hesitate to do this, although coming to an agreement with Euthyphro could have saved his life. The stubborn Socrates clearly had a knack for alienating people.

As a side note: Though it is rumored Socrates was married, this is surely a fiction. In Athenian society women could have their say behind closed doors. Socrates' mental intelligence is evidenced in his developed ability to annoy others. However, his social ineptness is evidenced in the same fact. What woman would have put up with such impudence? As no reference is ever made to a constant red cheek (from being slapped), it is highly unlikely Socrates was actually married.

Despite Socrates' lack of intrapersonal skills, an oracle once called him the wisest man. This was due to his humility. Socrates assumed to know nothing, and thus could not...

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The trial and execution of Socrates took place in 399 BC. Socrates was tried on two charges: corrupting the youth and impiety (in Greek, asebeia). More specifically, Socrates' accusers cited two "impious" acts: "failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges" and "introducing new deities". Socrates' death was result of him asking philosophical questions. A majority of the dikasts (Athenian citizens chosen by lot to serve as jurors) voted to convict him. Consistent with common practice, the dikasts determined Socrates’ punishment with another vote. Socrates was ultimately sentenced to death by drinking a hemlock-based liquid. Primary sources for accounts of the trial are given by two of Socrates' friends, Plato and Xenophon; well known later interpretations include those of the journalist I. F. Stone and the classics scholar Robin Waterfield.[1]

Socrates was a well-known figure in Athens for many years prior to his trial. Aristophanes’ comedy The Clouds, produced in 423 BC, portrays Socrates as a sophist. In the play, Socrates teaches young Pheidippides how to formulate arguments to justify beating his own father. Though Socrates denied any affiliation with the sophists, Clouds suggests that Athenians associated him with the sophistic movement. The sophists were a group of mixed reputation in Athens. G.B. Kerferd provides an example of one widespread modern view of the sophists: “…they were a set of charlatans that appeared in Greece in the fifth century, and earned ample livelihood by imposing on public credulity(利用人民的轻信): professing to teach virtue, they really taught the art of fallacious discourse, and meanwhile propagated immoral practical doctrines.”[2]

Clouds is not the only Aristophanes comedy which portrays conflict between an older man and his younger counterpart. Aristophanes’ comedy Wasps (422 BC) also contains disagreement between older men and younger men. This, as Robin Waterfield argues, represents the social conflict between two generations of men in Athens, especially in the decade from 425 to 415 BC. He also suggests that the divide between those in favor of the Athenian invasion of Sicily and those opposed was largely a generational divide.[3] Socrates, along with the sophists, was blamed in part by a significant segment of the citizenry for instilling the younger generation with what the older generation perceived as a morally nihilistic, disrespectful attitude.

No works by Socrates himself survive, but his younger friend Plato composed numerous 'Socratic dialogues', with Socrates as the main character. Socrates's elenctic examination was resented by influential figures of his day, whose reputations for wisdom and virtue were debunked by his questions.[4]

One will sometimes find the claim that Socrates described himself as the "gadfly" of Athens which, like a sluggish(迟缓的) horse, needed to be aroused by his "stinging".[5] It should be pointed out, however, that in the Greek text of his defense given by Plato, Socrates never actually uses that term (viz., "gadfly" [Grk., oîstros])[6] to describe himself. Rather, his reference is merely allusive, as he (literally) says only that he has attached himself to the City (proskeimenon tē polei)[7] in order to sting it.[8] Nevertheless, he does make the bold claim that he is a god's gift to the Athenians.[9]

Socrates' elenctic method was often imitated by the young men of Athens.[10]

Another possible source of resentment were the political views that he and his associates were thought to have embraced. Critias, who appears in two of Plato's Socratic dialogues, was a leader of the Thirty Tyrants (the ruthless(无情的) oligarchic regime that ruled Athens for eight months in 404–403 BC), but there is also a record of their falling out.[11]

As with many of the issues surrounding Socrates’ conviction, the nature of his affiliation with the Thirty Tyrants is far from straightforward. During the reign of the Thirty, many prominent Athenians who were opposed to the new government left Athens. Robin Waterfield asserts that “Socrates would have been welcome in oligarchic Thebes, where he had close associates among the Pythagoreans who flourished there, and which had already taken in other exiles.”[3]:183 Given the availability of a hospitable host outside of Athens, Socrates, at least in a limited way, chose to remain in Athens. Thus, Waterfield suggests, Socrates’ contemporaries probably thought his remaining in Athens, even without participating in the Thirty’s bloodthirsty schemes, demonstrated his sympathy for the Thirty’s cause, not neutrality towards it. This is proved, Waterfield argues, by the fact that after the Thirty were no longer in power, anyone who had remained in Athens during their rule was encouraged to move to Eleusis, the new home of the expatriate Thirty.[3] Socrates did oppose the will of the Thirty on a few specific occasions. Plato’s Apology has the character of Socrates describe one such instance. He says that the Thirty ordered him, along with four other men, to fetch a man named Leon from Salamis so that the Thirty could execute him. Socrates simply did not answer this order, while the other four men did go to Salamis to get Leon.[12]

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苏格拉底并非不信神,尽管他的诽谤罪声称他是无神论者,真正的情况是:苏格拉底信单一的神而不信当时被普遍接受的希腊众神,希腊众神在他看来是有瑕疵的、是不检点的。

其实苏格拉底被指控为不信神、腐蚀青年思想另有原因,那就是是他和当局以及和时代的冲突:苏格拉底不仅不信希腊众神,而且不信民主,他是那个时代彻底的叛逆者,在他看来,广大的人民拥有的智慧不够,因此民主没有意义,甚至希腊在伯罗奔尼撒战争中处于劣势的原因都是因为民主。苏是一个十足的探寻者,他探寻一切事物的原因和其道理,不服从权威、反对陈腐,按道理说,在雅典那样包容的社会环境下,再怎么不符合潮流的思想应该也不会被当局视为眼中钉啊?但可惜的是苏处的时代,民主并未真正开化,人们依然对异端无法容忍。

历史往往就是这样,真正探求真理的人,总是容易被推上脚手架。

有趣的是,苏格拉底有妻子这一传闻值得考证。有这样一个著名的笑话,说苏格拉底的妻子是悍妇,暴躁的时候直接端起一盆子水泼在苏身上,是名副其实的“泼”妇,这导致了苏常常离家出走,因为家里的老婆太恶劣了。但就苏的叛逆情结看来,苏很可能没有老婆,那个时代的妇女,由于顾及情面,是不太可能会嫁给一位权威的反抗者的。


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