Socrates and authority in the apology and crito

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Socrates and authority in the apology and crito

The rule of law means that it is not left to the discretion of those in executive power to decide what actions to approve and what actions to condemn. They must follow the standards laid down in the law. Just as important, however, the rule of law does not mean that any actions can be approved or condemned just because some legislative authority happens to pass a law about them.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. The "others" are clearly natural rights. Yet it is now common for people, even lawyers and judges, to "deny or disparage" certain rights, like privacy, just because they are not mentioned in the Constitution.

Socrates and authority in the apology and crito

Perhaps such people would do well to actually read the Bill of Rights. Those who "disparage" unwritten laws and rights often defend the rule of law as a principle of blind obedience; and they use it to argue that people must obey written laws whether they agree with them or not [ note ].

Indeed, that conception of the rule of law would have forbidden the American Revolution, or any acts of civil disobedience--which were justified by Martin Luther King by quoting St. Augustine that, "An unjust law is no law at all. The answer is that they have to, and that is the principle of freedom of conscience--as when Socrates tells the jury, "I will obey the god rather than you," or when Martin Luther himself told the Imperial Diet and the Emperor Charles V at Worms in"Here I stand; I can do no other; God help me!

The rule of law is not contrary to that; for the rule of law is not an injunction to blind obedience. To be "ruled by laws, not by men," is the old expression. Now, American colonies declaring independence, or a jury nullifying a law to find a defendant innocent, or a protester practicing civil disobedience, are not engaged in ruling.

Instead, they are doing the precise opposite: The principle of the rule of law does the same kind of thing, for it means that the authority and power of government and of individuals in office is limited to those spheres, those issues, and those actions that are specified by the law.

The rule of law denies to government unlimited or discretionary power and authority. The rule of law is thus part of a system of checks and balances to prevent dictatorship and despotism. Whether it is properly understood or not, much talk about democracy holds the rule of law in contempt, either because it contravenes the Will of the People or because it also denies power to those who would rule according to Jean Jacques Rousseau's idea of the "General Will": The "General Will" of the people is what they would want if they knew what was best for themselves.

Such a theory could justify, and has justified, the worst tyranny, like the Soviet Union, as in fact a "democracy. With the philosophers in power, ex hypothese, the wise will rule--although Plato himself, like Socrates, elsewhere as in the Symposium defines the philosophers as those who are not wise but are simply aware of that.

The rule of law is the shield of every honest person against those who want to claim superior power out of their supposed superior understanding.

That was the principle of the Constitution, though, as Jefferson anticipated, it has been steadily eroded by the natural power-seeking of government, the craven accommodations of the courts, and the constant quest of those pursuing their own interests through the authority, agency, and coercion of government.

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Thus, Socrates may be seen not merely as a partisan of democracy, but as a partisan of a proper and true democracy, a constitutional democracy, where the People and the government cannot be trusted with absolute and arbitrary authority any more than a king or dictator can be.

Such a democracy is a compromise and is accepted, not because the majority can be always trusted to be morally superior, but because it may be less susceptible to abuse than other forms of government. Thus Winston Churchill said that democracy is the "worst form of government," just better than all the others.

Churchill echoes an earlier statement by James Fenimore Cooper again, that "We do not adopt the popular polity because it is perfect, but because it is less imperfect than any other. But it is not democracy as many people refer to it today.

Tertullian: The Apology, translated by Wm. Reeve, ( reprinted )

If the Law is whatever some court even the Supreme Court happens to interpret it to be, then none of us can rely on it not to be interpreted away as a protection. This is much of what has happened, just as Thomas Jefferson anticipated that the Supreme Court, although a check on the other branches of the federal government, would not impose a check on the federal government as a whole, to which the Court itself belongs.

That is why the federal government, with zero authority from the enumerated powers of the Constitution violating the Tenth Amendmentcan seize your house violating the Eighth Amendment and put you in jail just for growing a marijuana plant in your yard--because, I suppose, it is bad for you.

This would have appalled and astonished most Americans living before this century. It would have outraged the likes of Jefferson.the. apology of tertullian.

translated and annotated by. wm. reeve, a.m. sometime vicar of cranford, middlesex. and the. meditations of the emperor. marcus aurelius. What the ancient Greeks—at least in the archaic phase of their civilization—called muthos was quite different from what we and the media nowadays call “myth”.

For them a muthos was a true story, a story that unveils the true origin of the world and human beings. For us a myth is something to be “debunked”: a widespread, popular belief that is in fact false.

Socrates | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

In his use of critical reasoning, by his unwavering commitment to truth, and through the vivid example of his own life, fifth-century Athenian Socrates set the standard for all subsequent Western philosophy.

Gregory's new book begins from the conviction that Socrates strangeness is the key to his philosophy. It is a marvelous book, in which no major aspect of Socrates career is eclipsed. Harmony sinks deep into the recesses of the soul and takes its strongest hold there, bringing grace also to the body & mind as well.

Music is a moral law. It was one of the rules which, above all others, made Doctor Franklin the most amiable of men in society, "never to contradict anybody." If he was urged to announce an opinion, he did it rather by asking questions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts.

Socrates and Authority | Greece & Rome | Cambridge Core