In his book, Socrates claims that the rich and the powerful are never comfortable with philosophers in society because they tend to reveal the truth to the public. In the society of his time, for instance, he notes that the ruling class accused him of inciting the youths, but the allegations were false.
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He was taken to court to answer the charges related to incitement and causing public disquiet. At the time, the court system was controlled by the few selected individuals commonly referred to as the demos because the system of administration was democratic, where the majority could have their word. Unfortunately, the views of minorities were never taken into consideration. The selected judges made a decision that Socrates had incited the youths and he was supposed to be sentenced to death.
Socrates’ friends requested him to accept the charges, as they were willing to pay the expected fines, but he refused and insisted that he was ready to die for the sake of justice. In his view, the democratic system of governance was the worst because it gave the majority, what he termed as the “tyranny of the multitude”, an opportunity to rule (Phaedo 21).
He views death as the freedom from all types of injustice that exist in society. He was not dying for his own sake, but the sake of freedom and justice. To him, wealth was the greatest cause of injustice because the ruling class wanted to preserve their positions as the owners of the means of production. Socrates encouraged people to keep off from wealth because it was one step towards individual captivity.
He cited power as an additional factor that denied people their freedom. Those in positions of influence in society, irrespective of whether they are social-politically or economically connected, are always worried about their security. An individual living a simple life does not care about what happens to him or her in society.
Freedom in the Phaedo
In the introductory paragraph, Socrates alleges that a true philosopher should be ready to die for the sake of justice. However, death should be natural and not through suicide. This appears a contradiction to Cebes, because if an individual considers death a blessing that he or she should be allowed to die irrespective of the way to do so. Socrates goes on explaining that human beings are properties of gods and harming themselves is against the will of gods.
Cebes is puzzled further and requests Socrates to clarify the sentence, but he appreciates the idea that life belongs to gods and no one can take it away at will. Socrates notes that those who are about to die should not mourn because they will meet gods and other friends in eternal life.
Death, according to Socrates, is simply the separation of the soul from the body, hence it amounts to a certain form of freedom given the fact that any philosopher tries as much as possible to keep off from the pleasures of the body (The Last Days of Socrates 87). Death brings freedom to the soul.
The senses play only one role which is deceiving soul and body. Intelligence identifies other important aspects of life, such as justice, goodness, and beauty. Therefore, freedom entails the separation of the soul from the body, which is achieved only through death. Society is full of various ideologies that serve to benefit the body and not the soul. Death gives the soul a chance to rest and keep off from the tribulations of the world.
In his writing on confessions, Augustine was attempting to give an account of his sins to God, as well as praise God for what he does in human life. The author notes that he was a sinful person, but God converted him into a faithful and trustworthy person. Augustine believed that an individual has a very short life and after death, he stands a trial before God for his deeds and sins.
If an individual behaves in a way that pleases God, he or she will definitely go to the Heaven to enjoy the eternal life, but whoever fails to follow the teachings of the Bible will suffer after death. The philosopher was influenced greatly by the writings of Plato, such as Republics and Apology. He supported Plato’s assertion that the best should be allowed to rule, but the church should come in to provide guidance for human beings to achieve freedom from sin.
He observed that the church and the state should work closely to improve the lives of individuals. The church has to provide spiritual nourishment, as this would prevent individuals from committing sins, such as stealing, killing, and injuring others (Augustine 112). Real freedom cannot be attained through the establishment of state laws, but through following the word of God and ensuring the church guides political leaders.
He encouraged people to follow the commandments because this would guarantee them a place in Heaven. Augustine advocated for freedom, but in a different from Plato way, because he wanted people to follow the teachings of the Bible. He suggested that the state has the legitimate use of force whenever people fail to obey the law. In other words, people should be forced to pursue the teachings of the Bible, as this would bring them freedom.
Augustine. The confessions of Saint Augustine. New York: Filiquarian Publishing, 2008. Print.
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Plato. Phaedo. Lanham: Start Classics, 2013. Print.
— The Last Days of Socrates. Charleston: Popular Classics Publishing, 2012. Print.