2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Socrates and The Apology: Questioner of Apollo; Prophet of James Madison?
Sean T. Phelan
Dr. Patricia Burton, Faculty Mentor

Although Socrates is considered by many modern philosophers and political scientists to have been a harsh critic of democracy, his explicit complaints about problems he saw in democratic governance very closely resemble arguments made by scholars considered to be influential proponents of democratic theory. From James Madison to John Kingdon to Hugh Heclo, contemporary endorsements of oft-criticized Socratic ideas and opinions abound. Socrates’ ‘criticisms’ of democracy are echoed by the sentiments of many modern scholars; though his modern counterparts are not considered detractors. Most of Socrates’ thoughts and comments should be regarded as what he saw as the then-modern state of democratic affairs and the rest can be considered his forecast for the future of democracy. Taken in this light, Socrates should not be condemned for his insights into the world of democratic politics but credited with accurate description, prophetic prediction, or both.

Keywords: Ancient Philosophy, Socrates, Democracy, Political Science

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 58-4
Location: VH 1232
Time: 4:30

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