The Philosophy of Self-Knowledge and Deception
Edited by Brent E. Cusher and Mark A. Menaldo
Chapter 4: Different purposes, different lives: Socrates’ twofold presentation of his activity in Plato’s Apology of Socrates
The interpretation of Plato’s Apology of Socrates in the chapter argues that Socrates delivers two accounts of his life that are diametrically opposed to one another. In the first version, Socrates reveals himself to be radically skeptical of pretentions to knowledge about the most important human things and dedicated entirely to the cause of discovering the truth, no matter how toxic this activity may seem from the Athenian point of view. In the second, and by contrast, Socrates argues that he is the truest friend of Athens, a pious man who spends his life going around to his fellow citizens encouraging them to live the best lives they can. In other words, Socrates’ leadership embodies not authenticity but a very public inauthenticity, or irony, which is actually useful for his promotion and protection of the philosophic way of life among his followers.
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