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Socrates’ Understanding of God

Socrates is accused of impiety, or “not believing in the gods in whom the city believes (West & Plato, 1979, 24b).” At first glance, it appears as if Socrates is charged with atheism, but the philosopher is, in fact, ostracized for believing in “other new spiritual things (West & Plato, 1979, 24b).” Socrates believed in God but in a way that was dramatically different from contemporary beliefs. While the residents of the city indulged in festivities, they dismissed the spiritual aspect of faith. In contrast, to Socrates, the said aspect was critical: he believed God to be “wise” as opposed to Greek gods many of whom were guilty of transgressions (West & Plato, 1979, 23a-b). Yet, Socrates’ argument is sometimes ambiguous as he both says that the man should be on an active quest for truth to understand God but argues that his life of philosophy was given to him “from divinations, and from dreams,” a means passive by definition (West & Plato, 1979, 33c).

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Reference

West, T. G., & Platon. (1979). Plato’s Apology of Socrates: An interpretation, with a new translation. Cornell University Press.

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