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"SOCRATES' LAST ERROR."

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Critiques Miroslav Ivanovic's analysis.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Critiques Miroslav Ivanovic's analysis. Ivanovic's deconstruction and unfair categorizing of Socrates' argument. Claims Miroslav ignores the spiritual aspects, the deliberate contradictions, irony and humor of Socrates argument. Socrates quality of critique. Problem of the unjust law and Socrates response to it.

Paper Introduction:
The first major problem in Miroslav Ivanovic's "Socrates' Last Error" is that he does not give enough credit to the irony and creativity of Socrates' arguments. Ivanovic seeks to categorize into a entirely and exclusively legal or rational argument. In doing so, he ignores the spiritual aspects of Socrates argument, the deliberate contradictions, the irony, even the good-hearted humor. Socrates is presenting a masterful painting of life and truth and the relationship of the just man to the city in which he lives, and Ivanovic is deconstructing and categorizing that masterpiece in little chunks to fit his preconceived notion of what Socrates is trying to do. To Ivanovic, Socrates is simply making a legal brief, or a logical argument. However, it is clear that Socrates is after far more serious

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In other words, he is saying that incondemning him, a just man, the laws themselves and/or the judicialdecision must be definition be unjust. If we are to take Ivanovic at face value and accept his premise, heis correct, or at least there is a kind of legal or logical truth in hisargument: there are some errors of logical in Socrates' argument, andtherefore his argument is not entirely rational. http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Anci/AnciIvan.htm----------------------- 1 Ivanovic's argument is too strictly bound by the "law" to comprehendand appreciate what Socrates is doing. It is almost as if Socrates is doingwith philosophy what Jesus did with religion. There is nodoubt to this reader that Socrates is indeed saying that the judicialdecision was unjust. It is no coincidence that both men accepted their condemnationinstead of fleeing, although Jesus remained silent while Socrates put up alengthy argument. In this context, Ivanovic is kin to those who urged Jesusto flee, not understanding that something far more profound than thestrictness of logic and law, or even death, was at stake. Jesus claimed to befulfilling the law and transcending it at the same time. "Socrates' Last Error." 1-7. After all, in his final dialogues, Socrates speaks ofall manner of things that are not rational in terms of being accessible tothe calculating mind, such as all things spiritual. Nevertheless, he makes these statements gently and respectfully,showing that even in criticizing others he does so with love in his heart. Ivanovic seeks to categorize into a entirely andexclusively legal or rational argument. To Ivanovic,Socrates is simply making a legal brief, or a logical argument. Ivanovic is technically correct when he says that Socrates shouldhave defied the unjust law by fleeing the death penalty he faced, for it isclear that Socrates himself believed the law and/or the judicial decisionto have been unjust in finding him guilty and condemning him. The first major problem in Miroslav Ivanovic's "Socrates' Last Error"is that he does not give enough credit to the irony and creativity ofSocrates' arguments. However, it is clear that Socrates is after far more serious andprofound goals than merely presenting syllogisms or logically connectingdots or quoting legal precedent. Therefore, Ivanovic fails to appreciate enough that there aredeliberate contradictions in Socrates' argument. Those lives to Socrates were often lived in defiancean disrespect of laws themselves! Obviously, Socrates disagrees with the judicial decision.He even gives somewhat of a warning to those who have condemned him thatthey will not fare well in their lives or in history because of thatdecision, while he sees himself as faring quite well, both in the afterlifeand in the eyes of history. The quality of critique which Socrates used most effectively, andwhich won him fame and glory through the centuries was the quality ofrespect. In doing so, he ignores thespiritual aspects of Socrates argument, the deliberate contradictions, theirony, even the good-hearted humor. Socrates is presenting a masterful painting of life and truth and therelationship of the just man to the city in which he lives, and Ivanovic isdeconstructing and categorizing that masterpiece in little chunks to fithis preconceived notion of what Socrates is trying to do. Therefore, it is important to note the difference in Crito betweenSocrates' disagreeing with the law and/or with the judicial decision anddisrespecting it. Work CitedIvanovic, Miroslav. And yet in the next breath he issaying that he is going to accept those laws as just because to dootherwise would be to betray the principles he lives by his whole life byremaining in Athens. Socrates' entire life of dialogue was a life of disagreement, orcritical commentary, even of defiance of the basic ways that "respectable"men lived their lives. There is no way to make such arguments and live such a life and dieaccording to such beliefs and not be involved in contradiction and irony.It is almost as if a just man needs an unjust law in order to be a justman. This is fine asfar as it goes, but it fails to distinguish between defiance of judicialdecisions, disrespect of judicial decision, disagreement with judicialdecisions, and critical commentary on judicial decisions. Socrates is mapping out the human soul,and Ivanovic is focusing on the pencil Socrates is using. He invariably disagreed with the men with whom he argued,obviously, but he always did so "respectfully." This overriding respect forthe men with whom he argued allowed them, in the end, to agree withSocrates and admit that they had been wrong about whatever word or idea orprinciple they had been arguing about. His entire argument, directly and indirectly, is anargument against the decision. Socrates in Critois simultaneously fulfilling and transcending philosophy and law and evenrationality. Socrates is saying thatthe laws and the system of justice have failed to live up to the principlesthey are supposed to espouse. Again, however, Socrates is doing more thansimply presenting a logical argument, and that is why Ivanovic's critiqueis not persuasive. Ivanovic writes that Socrates argues that "Disrespect of judicialdecisions produces the destruction of laws" (Ivanovic 2). And he will be a just man, in Socrates' very pure definition, only ifhe continues to be a good citizen unto death--even if he is being put todeath precisely because he was a bad citizen by the city's standards! At the same time, because he believes he has made a contract with thecity, because he believes that the city has allowed him to live as hepleases (up to the point it arrested him), he agrees to die in order tocontinue to be a pious and just and truth-seeking man. After all, he sees himself as a pious man, a just man,and therefore any law that condemns him for being impious must bydefinition be unjust. To be fair to Ivanovic, his argument is not entirely meaningless,despite its limitations, because, after all, Socrates does champion theprinciple of rational thought throughout Crito, and therefore an argumentwhich tries to point out errors of logic is an argument that should atleast be treated respectfully.

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