Socrates’ does not corrupt the youth. From this it

Socrates’ Main Argument:

Socrates argues that he cannot be held
accountable for the charge of corrupting the youth. He is accused of being the
biggest – if not the only – perpetrator of corruption of the youth in Athens.

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Meletus names to be Socrates as the only corruptor, but Socrates calls
attention to the absurdity of the claim, since Meletus’ complementary argument
essentially implies that the rest of Athens influences the youth in a “positive”
way. That should not be the case, however, given that there is no logic in the
mass influence of one corruptor. Socrates explains this absurdity by using one
of his many analogies. He alludes to the constant influences when explaining
that just as there are few horse trainers, so there are few who are in a position
to really “train” the youth (25c, p.22). He later goes on to question
Meletus’ insistence on Socrates’ intention to harm. If Socrates voluntarily
hurt the youth, then they would hurt him in return through self-defense or
vengeance, and no rational person hurts himself on purpose (26a, p.22).

 

Evaluation of Argument:

Socrates
is very skillful in cross-examining Meletus. His statements imply that Socrates
is the only one in the city of Athens who is corrupting the youth. Socrates is
able to point out the many flaws, and he is able to demonstrate Meletus’ lack
of credibility. At the same time, he admits that no sane person would
intentionally make the people worse if he has to live with them all. He asks,
finally, if any present in the court felt that he had corrupted them. Plato and
others in the court/audience demonstrate that they have been actually helped by
Socrates. Consequently, “those around him” also say that Socrates
does not corrupt the youth. From this it follows either that Socrates is not
making the people worse or he is doing so unintentionally.

 

Objection of Argument:

While
these arguments make sense and are generally well-founded and rationally
thought out, there are some moments in which logic can be addled in regard to
other arguments. For example, there is absolutely no way to prove the fact that
Socrates was unaware of his influence on society. No one person can easily
prove their effect on society, but our job as a collective community follows
certain guidelines regarding an implicit social script. Socrates may have been
ahead of his time in not caring for neither his reputation nor for his
influence, but humanity requires a minimum degree of basic conscientiousness.

Furthermore, his analogy of horse trainers can easily be used against him to
question whether or not he is one of the people qualified to “train” the youth.

If he is unable to see the effect that his questions have on people, can the
Athenians really allow him to do what he considers himself to be so good at? What
good do those questions serve ethically in that case? Yes, Socrates’ questions
cause a great deal of insight and introspection, but if the questions come at
the cost of inciting antipathy for the sake of just knowledge, then do the ends
really justify the means?

 

 

 

Socrates’ Objection:

Socrates
would argue that yes, the ends do indeed justify the means, especially in the
sense that perhaps his questions are causing a positive change in his “fellow
Athenians.” His questions are also just as harmless as the “advice” given from
far-reaching, ignorant “experts” that are so keen on positively influencing the
youth. Additionally, there is no way to prove that his intentions are pure, but
Socrates can also easily refute that no one person’s intentions are ever truly
clear or direct. He considers himself to be somewhat of an expert in his field
because he is always trying to better himself in his own “art,” rather than
trying to pretend he knows more than he lets on like literally every other “expert”
in the area. Not to mention that the intentions of the so-called experts are
also not truly clear. Perhaps in their lack of knowledge, they are also causing
unintentional harm to the youth by giving misleading information through
misunderstanding and overly large egos. In this case, his questions are consequently
ethical in the sense that they are protecting the youth from misleading
information, inflated egos, and misunderstandings and instead guiding them toward
enlightenment… or at least some proper education through questioning. Either
way, these inept “experts” are also now made to be obviously unqualified to be
influencing the youth just as much as Socrates is made out to be. These experts
are not sent to court or sentenced to death, so Socrates should not be in that
situation at all either.