Thoughts - Apology (Plato)

This is the second in a series of posts that stem from readings and classroom discussions in the course EDU S105 Philosophy of Education. Here is a link to the first post that also serves as an introduction to the series.

Based on conversations that I had with people who read the first post, I see value in stating something here. It would be easy to go through the points and nod along with what is being said. In fact, some of them are likely to seem like common sense! I urge you to go beyond the words written here. Try to make connections between the points and your past and current experiences in life. Ask yourself if (or how) you see these points playing out in the world around you today.

For this classroom session, the assigned text was Apology (also known as The Death of Socrates) by Plato. The reading is freely available online. The version that we read for the class can be found here.


  • Different types of knowledge and skills are useful depending on the situation. Saying that one type of knowledge/skill is better than another without any context is meaningless.
  • All knowledge/skill is incomplete. There is always something that we know we don't know and a lot more which we don't know that we don't know.
  • Thus, having confidence in yourself is fine even if it may be misplaced at times; what is dangerous is complacency.


  • A teacher should teach students how to think and not what to think.
  • As per Socrates, the sophists knew nothing but thought that they knew something while he (Socrates) neither knew nor thought that he knew anything (for context, I suggest reading a few paragraphs on the sophists here).


  • Money, in principle, can pull a person away from integrity. This is why Socrates took no money from the people he advised. He believed that such an incentive structure could corrupt.
  • Every person comes into a situation with something inside their heads - there is no such thing as a blank slate.
  • Existence of gods approved by the state was both uncertain and unimportant to Socrates. The duties of self-examination and truth mattered more to him.