January 21, 2017 Law

For thousands of years, theologians have debated the idea of the eternal soul, something that separates from the body after death and goes on to exist in whatever comes next, whether it is heaven or anything else. Socrates, living hundreds of years before the Common Era, discusses the idea of a soul with the early orators of Athens, such as Callicles, Gorgias and Polus. Socrates argues a viewpoint that one’s misdemeanors in life would be punished after death, and that one’s good deeds would later be rewarded. He continues this idealism by redefining politics as something not aimed at gratification but at what is best. In this way, he goes back to the idea of people’s souls being much more important than their waking life; that even though they may not want to be disciplined and pay their dues, they must do that because that is the only possible way to get rid of injustice, and get their souls properly cured.

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Socrates fearlessly states that he is one of the few Athenians “to take up the true political craft and practice the true politics” (p.105). He says that he would rather speak as to what is in fact best for the people than speak to gratify the masses. For Callicles it is hard to believe that “true politics” means speaking bluntly about what is best and thus giving people the truth. Socrates is sick of orators like Callicles and Gorgias telling people exactly what they want to hear, and throwing dust in the eyes of councils of justice who hear them in the law courts. Socrates refutes this easily because it turns out that “oratory doesn’t need to have any knowledge of the state of their subject matters; it only needs to have discovered a persuasion device in order to make itself appear to those who don’t have knowledge that it knows more than those who actually do have it” (p.18). Thus, some orators are capable of using oratory unjustly and being willing to do what is unjust. However, Callicles and Gorgias believe in what they do.


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