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Socrates ingesting the hemlock

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 998 times Debate No: 30963
Debate Rounds (3)
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Socrates should have ingested the hemlock. Why should an innocent man make himself look guilty? Socrates was too smart to let that happen; therefore, after pleading his side of the story, he gracefully accepted the verdict that was given to him: death by hemlock. He had always followed the laws in the past. Why start breaking them now and prove the court correct in finding him guilty of corrupting the youth, thus breaking the law.


Like Socrates, Martin Luther King Jr. was wrongly condemned to prison. Socrates was committed to truth and philosophical inquires but was committed of corrupting the youth and teaching new gods. MLK was sent to Birmingham jail because he broke the law by performing a single peace march.

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.
Debate Round No. 1


Socrates did not see his death as the end, however. As a Philosopher, he was intrigued by the new knowledge he would uncover; he wanted to learn the mysteries of death, so why not now? He realized that he could not change the minds of those accusing him. Socrates chose not to see death as the end of his life, but as the beginning of a new state of understanding. Death was not something to run away from, in his opinion; it was something to embrace.

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.


St. Thomas Aquinas said an "unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust." Therefore, the "law" that condemned Socrates was unjust in the sense that it corrupted his human character because he was fighting to overcome fallacies by finding truth. All statutes including acting against a fallacy (like Socrates did) are unjust because they damage the personalities of people. By remaining in prison, Socrates is acting unjustly as well and therefore Socrates should not have drank the hemlock.

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
Debate Round No. 2


It is true that St. Thomas Aquinas believed that an unjust law is a law that degrades human personality. However, I am referring to the beliefs of Socrates, for his life was the one in question. He believed that "nothing evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death." He viewed himself as a man who had done nothing wrong, thus good. He approached death without fear.

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.


Though Socrates did not believe he was a bad person, the ancient Greeks, who condemned him, deemed him to be. If Socrates was truly as bad a person as the ancient Greeks believed him to be, why is it today he is remembered for his commitment to truth and philosophical excellence more than anything else? When someone thinks of Hitler, his evil beliefs and execution of his terrible plans protrude the legal boundaries he worked within. By believing in the condemning of Socrates one would be saying everything good he stood for was minimal compared to the "illegal actions" that rose from his great wisdom. If that were the case Adolf Hitler, the direct cause of the death of nearly 6 million Jews, would be ranked a better historical figure than Socrates simply because of the legal bounds he worked within.

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.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by kennis 4 years ago
It's a college assignment.
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
There are many Socrates / Hemlock debates lately. I'm curious--what has spurred you to choose this topic? Is it perhaps a high school or after-school club requirement?
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