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Why was Socrates charged with impiety?

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Quick Answer

Socrates' enemies charged him with impiety because they saw him as a political liability; his philosophy contradicted the foundations of Athenian democracy, and two of his disciples were the primary instigators of revolts against the democracy in 411 and 404 B.C. Many of the notable men of the city detested Socrates because his manner of dialectical conversation caused them public embarrassment. Socrates also held religious views unorthodox for the time.

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Full Answer

Part of the charge against Socrates was his alleged disbelief in the gods of Athens. Contrary to what many of his detractors asserted, Socrates was not an atheist. But he did not believe in the traditional view of the Greek pantheon. Socrates believed that there was a single God, and he did not believe in a flawed, reproachable God like those depicted in Greek mythology.

Despite the claims of impiety, Socrates' indictment was politically motivated. Socrates did not believe in democracy. He believed that the wise should govern, and he did not think that the people at large had sufficient virtue or wisdom.

Socrates felt that it was democracy that led to Athens' downfall during the Peloponnesian War. He viewed Sparta as having a more exemplary form of government. Two of Socrates' disciples, Alibiades and Critias, led insurrections against the Athenian democracy. Athens' democratic leaders saw Socrates as a cause of political unrest.

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Related Questions

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    What were the achievements of Socrates?

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    Socrates is acknowledged as the father of Western philosophy, a great teacher who taught Plato, who in his turn taught Aristotle, Alexander the Great's teacher. Beyond philosophy, Socrates was a brave and skilled soldier who once saved the life of Athenian general Alcibiades.

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    Why did Socrates criticize the Sophists?

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    Socrates' criticism of the Sophists stemmed from the fact that these orators used memory and emotion to influence what people believed to be the truth instead of using reasoning. This group of men challenged ideas and traditions without finding the best answers for how to improve, change or fix the issues that they brought up. The Sophists were paid for their skills in speech and did not care what the outcome of their words was as long as they won the debate or lawsuit they were speaking about.

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    Where was the home of Socrates and early democracy?

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    Athens was the home of both Socrates and early democracy. During the Sparta war, Socrates talked to many people and created sympathies for the Spartan way of life, inciting some people to go so far as to rebel and become traitors to Athens.

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  • Q:

    What charges were leveled against Socrates?

    A:

    The famous Athenian philosopher Socrates was charged with two specific crimes: impiety and corruption of the youth. These charges stemmed from controversial decisions Socrates made as member of the Boule, decisions that ultimately upset influential figures and likely outraged public sentiment as well.

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