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Introduction


In Classic Greek Mythology, Athens had a democracy, but had no concept of freedom. Freedom evolved three centuries after Christ. There also was no notion or concept of person, which comes from the word persona, - a mask used in the theatre that depicted happy and sad characters. Members of the society of Athens were one hundred percent citizens of the city-state. Even the gods of Athens were territorial (i.e. the gods of Athens were the gods of Athens). Classic philosophers believed in nature and the cosmos and further believed that the cosmos always existed as it was with no beginning and no end. Classic philosophers also envisioned human nature as cycle and the soul as immortal. Classic philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle believed that the soul came from the world of ideas and that at birth; the soul fell into the body. Upon death, the soul returned to the world of perfect truth, which is the world of ideas.


Philosophy began in the seventh century before Christ. According to classic philosophers, there was always a mythological reason why things happened. These philosophers contend that philosophy could not be bounded by state, geographic location, or culture simply because philosophy is based on reason, which appeals to the philosopher. Poets, on the other hand, disagree with this concept and approach and viewed things in a totally different light. The Poets, who were also the theologians, lawmakers of the city, and creators of the gods, contend that anything conflicting with or outside of the concept and approach of the city is looked upon as undermining the city, which is an act of impiety. Poets deal with matter of fact whereas philosophers deal with reason. The different points of view and the differences of opinion caused conflict between the philosopher and the poet.


The Trail and Death of Socrates


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The Trail and Death of Socrates reflect these differences. The first segment of this four-part saga - Euthyphro - deals with Socrates desperate search for truth regarding piety. Socrates, the Philosopher, has been accused by Meletus, the Poet, of impiety. Meletus accusations are that Socrates is attempting to corrupt the young and is denying the gods, which is an act of impiety against the City. While in the king-archons court, Socrates runs into Euthyphro - a Theologian, who is prosecuting his own father for impiety for killing a servant, who by the way is a murderer himself. During this dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro, Socrates attempts to understand the differences between piety and impiety from Euthyphro. Socrates assumes that Euthyphro, of all people, knows the true meaning of piety because he is a Theologian and because he is prosecuting his own father for impiety. Contrary to his own thought, Socrates discovers that Euthyphros definition of piety does not hold solid, leaving room for doubt and confusion based on ones own interpretation. This of course does not sit well with Socrates.


Part two, the Apology, provides Socrates the opportunity to serve in his own defense. During his speech, Socrates not only attempts to defend himself, but attempts to defend philosophy as well, which is a threat to Athens. He is determined guilty by the city-state, allowed to provide input to his sentencing, and is inevitably condemned to death. In the third act of this saga, Citro, Socrates prepares for death. His friend Citro pleads with him to escape into exile, but Socrates would not hear of it. While Socrates is a philosopher, he is also a citizen of Athens - the city he loves. Escaping into exile means leaving the city. He states in his conversation with Citro that while he was sentenced to death, he has been treated fairly and that justice has been served. He realizes that in order to be a part of the city, he had to abide by rules, regulations and guidelines instated by the city. He states that upon birth, Athens nurtured, educated, and gave him a share of the good things. He conveys to Citro had he not been satisfied with the city and its laws, he and any other dissatisfied citizen had the right and was afforded the opportunity to leave the city. He indicates that he chose to stay, which in essence meant he accepted the laws and regulations of the justice system of Athens. To escape into exile is an act of injustice against Athens. For these reasons, he indicates he cannot escape into exile and must therefore withstand the consequences of the penalties inflicted upon him (Note Athens definition of justice was to love your friends and harm your enemy. Justice was not a method of principle. To Athens, it was a matter of power). In the final saga, Phaedo, Socrates’ friends visits him in prison in his final days. He drinks the hemlock at sundown and escapes into the world of ideas.


Plato


Plato, a philosopher, a citizen of Athens and a student of Socrates as well, valued knowledge and hated ignorance. He viewed knowledge as virtuous and good and saw ignorance as negative and evil. Plato viewed the world as a world of necessity, a carbon copy and a world of untruth. Plato contends that ethics cannot exist unless there is a society. There is no good or bad if one is living alone on an isolated and deserted island. He argues that good and bad can only exists if one is living in a society and the society or the community is offended. He further argues that an ethical world only exists in a society free of human beings, and declares that humans can only become ethical after death. In addition, Plato had no concept or notion of freedom or individuality for the concept of individual rights were unknown. The concept of democracy existed, but not freedom of the will.


The Republic


In the Republic, Plato wants to redeem Socrates by building the perfect city. In building his city, he builds philosophy, which is the world of truth (NOTE If the philosopher is to be recognized in the city, he must be educated - which leads to the world of ideas) Plato attempts to build a city free of classes and geographical boundaries. He envisions in thought what is needed for a luxurious city, but reaches a point of realization acknowledging that a city cannot exist without classes or geographical boundaries. The realization of classes and boundaries conflict with his thoughts as a philosopher because to the philosopher, there are no classes and boundaries. In efforts to rationalize the two, Plato presents the noble lie, which justifies his city with classes and geographical boundaries. Plato attempts to justify the noble lie by dividing it into two parts. The first part of the lie defines territoriality and contends that people are from the soil, which represents geographical boundaries. The second part of the lie concludes that people are made of various metals (i.e. gold, silver, and bronze), which represents or identifies the classes. Plato identifies the rulers as the wise men and they are made of gold; the guardians are the courageous and they are made of silver, and the craftsmen are the moderators and they are made of bronze. Plato was thinking as a citizen when he justified the classes and geographical boundaries, and as a philosopher when he justified the classes and geographical boundaries as a lie.


Allegory of the Cave


Platos allegory of the cave and the noble lie are synonymous. In the allegory of the cave, he describes the conditions of prisoners living in an underground cave like dwelling with one entrance opened to light across the width of the cave. The prisoners have been chained in this cave from birth and only able to see what is in front of them. The light is a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners is a road, which is also above them, and a wall built like the partition of a puppet-handler. The prisoners see human beings carrying artifacts, which projects shadows above the wall. To these prisoners, truth is the projection of the shadows. Meanwhile, one of the prisoners free himself, turns around and looks toward the light and sees the reality of what he saw as shadows. Plato contends this man would be more compelled to believe that truth and reality exists in what he saw as shadows than in what he actually sees.





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