1. Explain the rumors against Socrates, and how he responds to them
Socrates faces rumors that he is a sophist. He reasons that he cannot be a sophist because he does not have the knowledge of the sophists. The sophists taught people for a fee. Socrates informs the jury that young men like to hear him speak as he examines the pretenders, and they imitate him. The young men begin examining others and themselves, and they find that they are not as knowledgeable as they thought they were. The other rumor is that Socrates is an inquisitive individual who investigates all phenomena, whether it is on earth or in the heavens. Socrates refutes these anecdotes, and he makes the affirmation that he does not have a part in any such studies. He says that his accusers come up with excuses in a bid to explain why they think he is evil. Since they cannot find any reason, they use the same excuses on all philosophers, such as the fact that they examine things in the clouds and under the earth.
2. Explain how Socrates responds to the first legal charge
The first legal charge is that Socrates does evil, and he has corrupted the youth of Athens. Socrates responds to this charge by questioning, Meletus, his accuser, and by doing this, he clearly demonstrates that he cannot individually be responsible for corrupting the youth. Socrates exposes the shortcomings of Meletus during questioning, by showing that he alone cannot possibly be responsible for corrupting the youth while the rest of the people are responsible for improving the youth. He also explains that he cannot corrupt the youth, or that if he does his actions are not intentional, because doing so would only mean bringing harm on himself.
3. Explain how Socrates responds to the second legal charge
The second legal charge is that Socrates is an atheist who does not recognize the gods of the state but acknowledges new gods. Meletus changes this charge and claims that Socrates is a complete atheist. He responds to this charge by showing the inconsistency of Meletus, and by demonstrating that it is not likely for a person to believe in the product of something, without acknowledging the source. Socrates shows that he believes in demigods who are the illicit sons of the gods, and this means that he believes in the gods. He asserts that it is not probable for a person to have an unhinging belief in the divine and superhumanity without believing in the gods. Therefore, he is not a complete atheist as Meletus claims because he does believe in god.
4. What does Socrates mean by “improvement of the soul and virtue,” and why do you agree or disagree?
Socrates believes that people should pay much attention to improvement of the soul instead of collecting wealth and seeking honor and reputation among people. People will benefit more by improving their souls rather than gaining wealth. Improving the soul is tantamount to having a healthy and admirable character from which every other benefit will follow. The soul determines a person’s virtues and vices. Improving the soul means seeking to improve the virtues and reduce the vices. I agree with Socrates concerning the need to have additional virtues. This is because I believe that the world would be a better place if people had more virtues. There would be less crime, and ultimately, people would live better lives. This would contribute to greater enjoyment of life and peace among people since they would not have to worry about their neighbors doing them harm.
5. What does Socrates mean by the “unexamined life is not worth living,” and why do you agree or disagree?
People understand themselves better when they examine their lives and have a realistic perception of who they are. The unexamined life is not worth living because a person will never understand who he is. This understanding creates meaning and purpose for people’s lives, thereby making them valuable. It increases knowledge and wisdom, which is essential for people. It enables people to use logic and reason in different situations, especially in determining their choices. I agree with Socrates on this issue. Living the examined life means that people are aware of their actions. They do not have to concur with what every person suggests or adopt different personalities because they have a clear understanding of who they are.
6. Explain Socrates’ argument for not escaping from prison
Socrates begins explaining why he cannot escape from prison, immediately Crito tells him of his plans. He tells Crito that they should not worry about the opinion of many people, but should only be concerned with the opinion of righteous men because they will seek to understand the truth of the matter. The majority may be acting out of ignorance and lack understanding, and following their opinion or heeding their advice will not be beneficial. It takes more time for Socrates to convince Crito against his plans, and he applies reason to explain why he will not escape from prison. Socrates informs Crito that it is right for a person to live rightly. Doing this means following the laws of the land. By being in prison, Socrates is following the decision made after his sentencing. In essence, he made an agreement with the law and he is not afraid of death. He is not about to break that agreement. Socrates argues that a person should never do wrong, and escaping from prison is wrong. He reasons that people should not do wrong just because others have wronged them, and that they should not result to doing evil since this is not just. It was not the law that failed in ruling, but the people in the jury.
7. Explain why you agree or disagree with Socrates
I agree with Socrates on different issues. I particularly agree with his argument, which claims that a person should not do wrong even if he is wronged. I believe that people should strive to do the right things always even if they feel that other people or the system has failed them. We live in a democratic society compared to Socrates. However, people continue facing the same situation that he did when they are unjustly imprisoned. Escaping from prison because of a failed system is not the right thing to do. Instead, people should aim to find the right channels or mechanisms of getting out, which include finding evidence that will aid in the court appeal. I also agree with Socrates concerning the importance of keeping agreements. Once a person decides to do something, then he should ensure that he does everything that he can in order to keep that agreement. Sometimes people tend to make decisions out of pressure, based on the opinion of the majority. This often leads to poor decision making because it does not let a person use any reasoning. Finding an expert opinion is paramount when making a decision because such a person understands the impact and truth of a decision. However, I tend to disagree with Socrates concerning his obligations to the state, and his unquestioning obedience to the laws of the state. Socrates reasons that it is okay for a person to obey the state without question. Some of the laws may not be beneficial to people, and they may end up harming them in the end. Pursuing the ideals of such rules without questions will only end up harming more people in the process.
8. Explain: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
King made this statement while explaining his reason for being in Birmingham. He recognized the fact that the principles enabling injustice to prevail in a certain region can spread far beyond their reach, and they can affect other regions as well. Different places in the nation are interrelated in different ways. The people who encourage injustice at a certain place can as well influence others in other regions where there are seemingly just rules, to follow in their practices by applying their principles. Therefore, people have to deal with any form of injustice wherever they are so that they reduce the chances of prejudice spreading to other regions.
9. Explain the difference between unjust laws and just laws
King defines an unjust law as a law that is not in tandem with the moral code or with natural laws. It does not have its basis on the laws of God. Such laws do not add any value to people’s lives. They are demeaning, and they make people feel inferior. Such laws include the enforcement of segregation, which not only serves to separate the people, but it also makes them feel unworthy, unwanted, unqualified, and unaccepted by the society. The people constituting the majority use their power and authority to instill and subject unjust laws to the minority. Just laws are in line with the laws of God and the moral laws. They benefit the people because they raise them up to a standard, and the people feel that they belong. Such laws include any laws that advocate for equality because they will increase the opportunities that people have.
10. Under what conditions is it permissible to break the law?
King points out that there are two categories of laws: those that are just, and those that are unjust. He asserts that people have a legal obligation as well as a moral responsibility to obey just laws. However, he reasons that people have the right to break laws when they are morally wrong and unjust to the people. For instance, civil disobedience constitutes breaking of the law, but it is generally considered justified if it is in reaction of the injustice in the country. People should break the unjust laws openly and when they are willing to face the repercussions for doing so. They should break the unjust laws with the intention of provoking the conscience of other people into recognizing and fighting against the unjust laws.
11. According to King, what is the purpose of law and order?
The purpose of law and order is to establish justice. This does not mean discriminating on people and maintaining the way of the majority as a form of justice. Accordingly, when the principles of law and order fail to fulfill their purpose, they lead to hindering of the social progress. They become dangerous because they are selective. Laws should be objective in the sense that all people should be under the same laws. Establishing justice leads to a realization of equality.
12. What’s King’s view of the role of the Church on social justice?
The church has a role to play regarding social justice. The church should not be a mere social club intent on maintaining the status quo, but it should address the social issues facing the people. The church should be at the forefront in condemning the actions that contribute to injustice and mistreatment of the people. The church should not just deal with the effects of injustice, but it should seek to find the causes of it and deal with them. The church should identify ways of rousing people towards nonviolent action against injustice, as this will contribute to them moving up from their lowly positions of racism and other forms of discrimination.
Kessler, E. Gary. Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. New York: Wadsworth, 2008. Print