CREDOS: The Apology — III

Since Socrates showed incoherencies in peoples’ claims it was logical for people to assume that he himself had opinions of his own. However, as he rarely presented his own views it was natural for people to think he taught them to his students. This misunderstanding stems from the Sophists who actually taught people how to answer questions. Socrates himself claims that he never taught anyone anything and never instructed anyone on how to think or what to do. He also claims that he held all his discussions in public and charged no fee for attendance. But Socrates’ discussions were popular as they were often fun and he made people look ridiculous, many used to listen in. Thus, in the Apology Socrates has to dispel the misunderstanding that he is a teacher.

Another graver misunderstanding is to think that Socrates didn’t care what the answers to his questions were. His accusers thought that he only enjoyed making others look foolish and ridiculing the issues they dealt with, while not caring for any of the issues himself. Thus, Socrates was taken as a nihilist, even though he was not. Further, there were young men who hung around him who actually were nihilists and committed crimes, which in turn reflected badly on Socrates’ reputation. As people thought Socrates was their teacher, the actions of these nihilists were one of the principle reasons behind his prosecution. This misunderstanding led to the accusation of corrupting the youth of the city.