Socrates ingesting the hemlock
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Both men were wrongly sent to prison. Both Socrates and MLK were loathed by a large majority of society. However, Martin Luther King was sent to prison numerous times and each time he rose from his confinements and went right back to what he believed in, chasing his dream of creating equality.
Socrates, arguably one of the world"s greatest philosophers, was sent to prison just once and he never attempted to leave and go back to what he did best. Imagine Martin Luther King Jr. never returned from prison. He was wrongly accused once and he never returned to do what he believed was right. How different do you think the United States, even the world, would be if MLK just ended it? Imagine how much more the world could know about philosophy and the teachings of Socrates if he had remained a fighter pursuing his beliefs, his intelligence, and his wisdom. Socrates should not have drank the Hemlock.
Socrates also stated that he was an old man. In the Apology, after discovering his sentence, Socrates says, "If you had waited a little while, your desire would have been fulfilled in the course of nature. For I am far advanced in years, as you may perceive, and not far from death." He knew he did not have much time left in this world and he was ready to discover what the next world, if a such place did exist, had waiting for him.
Yes, the law that committed Socrates was just on the surface, but it was unjust in its application. Socrates was arrested for teaching new gods and corrupting the youth. Nothing is wrong with the regulation mentioned. However, such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to prevent anyone (including Socrates) from seeking truth and gaining a higher level of understanding
Socrates was searching to better understand true and false knowledge, and to discover who is wise and who is not. He believed that death would help him to complete his search. He was not angry with those who accused him and sentenced him to death. He did not believe that they harmed him either, even though that was their intention. Socrates was ready to fulfill his journey that he spent most of his life working towards.
Socrates' s last statement in Apology was, "The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows." He died a believer.
Once again, by asserting Socrates" actions as not permissible because of his public philosophical commitments to truth, one would be saying any actions, although educational, must be sentenced because they may advance to the learning of higher thinking. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion?" Socrates created tension in the minds of people forcing them to question the fallacies of society and therefore Socrates should not have drank the hemlock.
Socrates was committed to finding truth for himself and the people of society. The law that condemned him was wrong and unjust. Because his life was taken from him, the world will never truly know the extent of one of the greatest and wisest philosophers of all time.
Socrates will forever be remembered for his credit toward laying the ground for Western Philosophy. Socrates was often referred to as a gadfly because he distressed the social norms by having questions of difficulty posed toward people. These questions were posed to have people examine their beliefs. Socrates" goal was transform the way people thought about the "half truths" that society accepted. He was concerned for the people he lived amongst and he only intended for the best possible life for everyone and therefore Socrates should not have drank the hemlock.
"To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
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