The question that begs an answer in studying the philosophical thoughts of Socrates is whether or not the Socratic Problem is a real problem. The answer to this question is yes, it is an actual problem that should be understood to have a better understanding of the philosopher and his work. In order to comprehend the philosopher’s thoughts, it is always important to investigate the source of the information available about him or her (Soccio, 2015). The same applies to Socrates as to any other influential philosopher. It is also important to explore the methodological challenges that surround the philosopher. In this case, understanding the philosopher is marred by what has become to be commonly known as the “Socratic problem.” The problem, in this case, emanates from the reality that there is no information written by the philosopher about the self and his work. The information available on the philosopher is what others have to say about him and his work. The problem emerges in that it is not possible to distinguish the actual views of the philosopher and the opinions of others about him (Soccio, 2015). It would be more objective if the philosopher wrote about himself and his philosophical views, but this is not the case. Therefore, this remains a problem because it is not possible to view the philosopher through his own eyes. There is nothing that the philosopher said directly, which is written in his own hands.
Plato’s The Apology
The title Apology suggests a form of regretful acknowledgment of having done something wrong or violated the law, but this is far from what Plato’s The Apology really is. It is not an apology from the conventional understanding of the term. Socrates was facing serious charges, and this was an apology he would be sought of conveying regret for his words and actions. It is a defense that the philosopher was making in response to his accusations. He is trying to defend himself but he is not in any way apologetic. However, again, it was not in any way an attempt to defend himself from the accusers and convey his innocence. The defense of Socrates would fit perfectly as an apology, but it is not. In this case, he was not defending himself, but instead condemning himself to persecution. Death was then the ultimate punishment for the crime he was accused of (Soccio, 2015). Where he thought he was guilty, he would have actually apologized for the wrongdoing. However, he felt justified for violating the law and would not apologize for it. In the end, he was found guilty and was not afraid to face death, if that was the justice that the Council was seeking. Interestingly, Socrates led the Council towards finding him culpable for the crime he was being accused of. He even stood by his statement to the end and even to death.
Validity of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
The Allegory of the Cave is a metaphor published by Plato in explaining how people can live in a situation of ignorance while believing that what they experience is the reality. In the description, there are prisoners who have spent their lives in a cave and have never known any other world. In the cave, there are puppets casting shadows on the walls of the cave. The prisoners live believing that the shadows are real even if they are not (Soccio, 2015). These people have not been exposed to any other reality and hence believe in what they have seen, although in reality, it is not real. In the event that they are exposed to the outside world, they get the enlightenment, which allows them to leave behind the ignorance. The metaphor is as valid today as it was when it was first proposed. There are people who live in ignorance believing that what they know is the reality. In reality, this is not just a lack of knowledge which confides them to ignorance. For example, before receiving education, an individual lives in ignorance, but exposure to education allows them to see the world differently. Exposure to knowledge becomes the basis for exposure to an outside world like it is experienced by a prisoner who is able to escape from the cave and face the new world.
Plato’s “Philosopher Kings”
The society is organized in such a way that there are the intellectual minds that are leading and making decisions on the behalf of the masses. The society, hence, should be under the rule of the most intellectual elite. It is not possible for decisions on the behalf of the society to be made by all its members, explaining the choice of the “philosopher kings” to be responsible for governance and policy-making (Soccio, 2015). The same arrangement has existed long beyond when Plato wrote his philosophical ideas. The decisions concerning the running of the state are made by those in the governance positions. For example, these are the people who decide whether a state should engage in war or not.
Basically, the “philosopher kings” idea is still valid to date, and these leaders are available in most states. The only part played by the citizens is in selecting the “philosopher kings” who are left with the rest of the duties to run the state. It is also important for the rulers to have wisdom to run the state and move it to the right direction (Soccio, 2015). Without wisdom, the leaders can make decisions that can harm the state. The same would be the case if the decisions are made by the average followers. Competence in leadership is a factor that cannot be replaced if the state is to be led effectively.
Soccio, D. J. (2015). Archetypes of wisdom: An introduction to philosophy. Nelson Education.