CorruptionDefined?Ipersonally believe you cannot have corruption without bias. Bias is favoring a side or belief overanother. Therefore, I believe corruption means to rebel against a side or athought process, meaning that there has to be two sides to an argument.
In theApology the two sides are represented through Socrates and Meletus. In theApology, Socrates’ definition of corruption is never clearly stated. However, ageneral understanding of his view on corruption can be inferred through hisdialogue and interaction with Meletus.
Meletus accused Socrates of corruptingthe youth of Athens. Throughout his life, Socrates was known to question theauthority of people in power, or people that were seen as “better off”. Hequestioned those who society perceived as wise.
He did this because of a deepseated belief he had in what the oracle of Delphi told him regarding his ownwisdom. The Delphic oracle, Pythian, revealed to him that there was no onewiser, so he deduced this was because heknew and acknowledged that he truly knew nothing (Apology, 21b). Consequently,he believed it his duty to share that wisdom with others who were ignorant.
Hebelieved that he was teaching them to learn through questioning; to learnthrough accessing the knowledge already contained in their minds (Meno). Socratesbelieved that the essence of true virtue was wisdom and the pursuit of wisdom.Socrates’ method of achieving wisdom was through questioning. As a result, hetaught the youth to question with the goal of achieving wisdom through whatthey discovered. In contrast, Meletus believes that this questioning is harmfuland rebellious against society and the status quo. Meletus believes that the law, and thereforethe jurymen and councilors, are the only true people whose duty it is to improvethe youth (Apology, 23e). Throughteaching the youth of Athens to question the laws and societal norms of thejurymen and the councilors, Meletus believed Socrates had corrupted them.
Meletus agrees with Socrates when Socratesstates, “It seems that all the Athenians make the young into good people,except me, and I alone corrupt them.” (Apology, 25a). Socrates believed that ifeveryone was wise, there would be no problems.
He saw wisdom as the key to aperfect world. Therefore, he did not understand the court’s disapproval of histeaching the youth how to properly pursue wisdom. True virtue, in the eyes ofSocrates, was achieved through gaining true wisdom.
Anything that preventedthis pursuit was corrupt. Thequestion then becomes which side is the right side? In the case of Socrates andMeletus, one must investigate their standings as citizens of Athens. Socrateswas a philosopher. He questioned the status quo, laws and people in positionsof power in order to obtain untouched knowledge. On the other hand, Meletus,Socrates’ accuser, was a prosecutor. Meletus was an Athenian in a position ofpower, who felt that Socrates corrupted the youth through teaching them toquestion those in charge.
Corruption is a popular term that is applied to avariety of situations, from Meletus’ use of it as corruption of the mind to thepopular idea of corruption of power. Socrates was expanding the understandingof the youth and enabling them to pursue the wisdom he thought would provide abetter future. It is true that Socrateswas corrupting the youth of Athens in that he was teaching them in a way thatrebelled against the common ideas of the time.
Socrates held an unpopularopinion. I do not think the question is whether or not Socrates was corruptingthe youth of Athens, I believe that corruption is any rebellion against a side,and in this case that side is the government of Athens. Consequently, I believeSocrates is guilty of corruption in the eyes of Meletus, but Socrates was infact corrupting for the betterment of mankind.