Comparing Plato's Apology Of Socrates And Symposium

1279 Words6 Pages
Plato portrays conflicts between philosophy, or the love of wisdom, and civic life, which is the participation in politics, in his Apology of Socrates and Symposium. In these texts, Plato depicts Socrates as the principal advocate in Athens for philosophical inquiry and how it benefits the human soul. Tensions arise from the fact that philosophy functions at a higher standard than politics; while the pursuit of wisdom concerns itself with justice and improving the soul, politics adhere to laws which the majority administer and influence. This conflict reveals itself when the differing standards judge human actions, which Socrates exemplifies in his refusal to lead a political life, his disapproval of Alcibiades’ pursuit of reputation, and…show more content…
Socrates criticizes his pupil’s political activity throughout their relationship on the basis that actions influenced by the majority hinder one’s search for the greater goods. Alcibiades, a young, charismatic, and powerful leader in Athens, bemoans how Socrates always “makes me admit that my political career is a waste of time, while all that matters is just what I most neglect” (Symposium, 216a). Socrates condemns the quest for political success because it merely pursues the lesser goods of reputation, glory, fame, and money instead of the greater goods. The greater goods refer to virtue, truth, wisdom, and excellence of soul, all of which Alcibiades disregards while within the civic life. Socrates, as a philosopher, recognizes that the worthlessness of politics arises from the fact that such actions do not improve the condition of one’s soul. He finds no meaning in everything that Alcibiades prides himself in. As a result, Alcibiades protests that Socrates “makes it seem that my life isn’t worth living!” (Symposium, 216a). Socrates’ philosophical criticisms on the practice of politics create an intense conflict for Alcibiades, so much so that he compares the pain to a “snakebite” (Symposium, 217e). He laments that his soul is “struck and bitten by philosophy” (Symposium, 218a). Alcibiades’ struggle between escaping from Socrates’ criticisms and desiring the philosopher provokes an internal war. In this way, Socrates’ philosophy, which judges on the standards of justice and improvement of the soul, disdains Alcibiades’ actions as a politician by asserting that such pursuits are

    More about Comparing Plato's Apology Of Socrates And Symposium

      Open Document