14 January 2010

Article: Was Socrates Against Democracy?

The article "Was Socrates Against Democracy?" by Terence Irwin was published in the collection "Plato's Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito: Critical Essays", ed. Rachana Kamtekar (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005: pp. 127-49).

This is a direct link to a limited preview of the article:


Excerpt: "According to one view, the trial [of Socrates] is significant because it reveals Socrates' anti-democratic outlook, and the Athenians' reaction to it. This view may be expressed in three claims: 1. Socrates was prosecuted, and the prosecution succeeded, mainly because many Athenians suspected him of having influenced leading members of the Thirty, the oligarchic regime that ruled Athens in

"2. The suspicions were correct. Critias and other leading oligarchs believed that Socrates advocated oligarchy, and their belief encouraged them in their anti-democratic activities. 3. The influence rested on a correct understanding of Socrates. For Socrates' political views, correctly understood, implied that an oligarchic regime such as the Thirty was better than the democracy that it replaced."

While Irwin opposes these claims, he also provides references to publications supporting them and discusses the counter argument.

Terence Irwin has been Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Oxford since 2007. Before that, he taught at Cornell University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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