Essay heading: Plato's Apology

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Philosophy

 

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January 20, 2003

 

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2 / 491

 

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This is the only instance in The Apology of the elenchus, or cross-examination, which is so central to most Platonic dialogues. His conversation with Meletus, however, is a poor example of this method, as it seems more directed toward embarrassing Meletus than toward arriving at the truth. In a famous passage, Socrates likens himself to a gadfly stinging the lazy horse which is the Athenian state...
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Without him, Socrates claims, the state is liable to drift into a deep sleep, but through his influence--irritating as it may be to some--it can be wakened into productive and virtuous action. Socrates is found guilty by a narrow margin and is asked to propose a penalty. Socrates jokingly suggests that if he were to get what he deserves, he should be honored with a great meal for being of such service to the state...
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