Socrates’ Understanding of Political PhilosophyJune 28, 2021
The political philosophy of Socrates, who is accepted as the founder of political philosophy in the history of thought, largely consists of his criticisms of democracy and his ideas about what the best form of government is. Behind these views, of course, were his beliefs or ideas about the nature and functions of the state in general and the Greek city-state in particular.
Socrates accordingly emphasized a certain size (as the political organization of a community of about forty thousand people), although quite small, the moral unity made possible by this size, and finally, the moral dimension of the Greek city-state polis, as a unit of political government with political independence or autonomy. it does. That is, the reason for the existence of the polis or city-state is not only to secure the lives of its citizens, but mainly to enable them to achieve happiness, to lead a morally good life and to provide a good life to its citizens. According to him, the police, which is also an educational institution, is responsible for making its citizens reach real happiness and turn them into good people who take care of their souls. The state’s duty is to develop its citizens, especially spiritually, and to turn them into virtuous beings according to its own good perception.
Secondly, Socrates says that the police or the state and its laws are based on a contract. This understanding of contract means that there is a contract between the state and the laws of the state and citizens, and the citizen, who has made his social system dependent on the community or community that he has accepted all his life, has an obligation to support the institutions and organizations that the social order is dependent on and not to act independently contains the idea. In line with the aforementioned viewpoint regarding the source and legitimacy of political authority, but the nature of the relationship based on justice between the main political authority and the citizen, Socrates, for example, states that he made a contract with the Athenian state; it is under the protection, assurance and guidance of the state in accordance with this convention; He says that in Athens, where he was born, he was a citizen according to the civil law of the polis, that he was raised and educated according to the education system. Thus, Socrates accepts that he, like other citizens, is the product, even slave, of the Athenian state and its laws. For Socrates, who claimed that the state and law, whose reason for existence is goodness and justice, cannot be bad, which exists for the well-being, moral development of the individual and to realize himself and to realize his potential fully and correctly, the problem was not with the state and the laws, but with those who represent the state and those who implement the laws.
Socrates, thirdly, on this basis, the representation of the state by those who are not experts in the art of government, that is, by everyone; He fiercely criticized democracy while opposing the application of laws by ordinary people who did not know what real justice was, what the purpose of life was, that is, who lacked the necessary philosophical wisdom. Socrates, who gives good feelings or feelings of appreciation to master performers of all crafts, describes how, for example, sailors, helmsmen, ship captains protect people and their goods, and how they transport them safely from one place to another for small fees, Socrates is a master of any craft, field or profession. He argued that expertise or expertise did not give the master or expert the right to make judgments on matters outside of his or her own field. According to him, this was the biggest problem of democracy in Athens. While political decisions concerning the future of Athens as a whole and all Athenians were discussed and taken, important future projects and policies were determined, it took a stand that every free Athenian citizen should have the same or equal voting rights. According to this, when it comes to the administration of the state and taking decisions about the future of Athens, the people’s assembly, which calls the experts and applies to their knowledge, only on subjects such as architecture, shipbuilding, military expeditions, public works, which require technical knowledge, “builder, shoemaker, merchant, captain, Socrates could never digest it, listening to everyone “rich or poor” and taking the decision with the votes of those people who lack the necessary knowledge and expertise.
In fact, Socrates thought that every human being has a job or profession that suits his nature and education; therefore he believed that the mind and lifestyle of a master craftsman prevented him from acquiring the knowledge, character, and judgment that would make him a correct and appropriate guide in political matters and decisions. It was because of this belief that throughout his life he opposed the idea that “one person’s opinion on political matters is as good as another”, which is the basis of Athenian democracy, in which all free Greek citizens except slaves and women directly participate in political decisions. Because, according to him, politics is an art just like captaincy, architecture, shoemaking; therefore, the majority without knowledge or by drawing lots to the parliament.