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Plato and Socrates: Learning From Mistakes

Socrates had many ideas and one big one is that he described people as ignorant. In the big battle of good versus evil he felt that the points were moot. Ignorance is a big theme in the philosophy. Philosophers feel above all and unsurprisingly this makes them an enemy to many.  Both Plato, and Socrates whom were contemporaries held similar thoughts, about the ignorance of others. This helped bring out a new way of teaching these ideals thanks to the death of Socrates by hemlock.

Death of an important figure usually brings a shock to all but tends to be a learning experience as well. Plato learned from Socrates death by his mistakes. This in result brought the ever-popular Allegory of the Cave and Plato’s account of Socrates’ apology of the state which was less than an apology. These accounts show that Plato was using all he had to create an image for himself, but one that was a learning experience.

Socrates was known for speaking his mind in very crude terms. He was not afraid of speaking against the state. He ever spoke on how the Oracle Delphi said that he was the wisest man on earth. This in turn got him in lots of trouble. He was charged with corruption of youth. He was at the time gathering a large following. He easily made himself an enemy with the way he spoke. Though he used analogies at one point he speaks about the Athenian government, and calling it a lazy horse. He said that he had to sting and reawaken it. This is a bold statement especially for a man facing the incrimination and likely imprisonment.

Another risky and bold thing Socrates did was when it came to judgment. He refused to be exiled or imprisoned. He only accepted the death penalty. It is a bold statement especially when he speaks to his judges. He talks how zero people voted to keep him alive, so he states that that will basically rue the day. That after his death a harsh day of punishment by Zeus will come to them. His words are very direct and harsh. But at this point he has nothing to lose, and he is as he always was out spoken to the world, not worried of the consequences.

After this comes out Plato writes the allegory of the cave. This story is against the whole outspoken demeanor of Socrates. The man who saw the light was thought of as a fool. So in turn he had to impart his true knowledge of the sun as people could handle it. The ideas were basically that people were ignorant, due to following the program and by assumption. If one does not think for themselves, they will never truly see the light.

It seemed to be a warning but also a new way to approach the teaching of philosophy. Philosophers such as Plato has to be careful when it came to be spreading their teachings among the others. They were ignorant and therefore blameless if they were afraid of such drastic things. So, teaching had to be made and catered around them. But it also told philosophers, it wasn’t their fault if not all understood because everyone is in a state of ignorance and may never be able to excel and become full of potential. It was a very crude way of doing this, but also a sneak solution to spreading new philosophies around.

Plato was a man who brought renowned change to educating the people with philosophy. It was something that had to be due to previous failures. Moving into something knew too quickly guaranteed resistance. Because the others who were not brought to the light and followed into the entrapment of the images of what is thought as of the way of life, were just ignorant in what was truly important. This new teaching was safer, and probably wouldn’t have been thought of if Socrates was not put to death. For Plato learned from the mistakes of his friend and fellow philosopher.




Mary Kirby

Elizabethtown '21

Hi! I’m Mary!
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