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An Analysis of Socratic Irony in The Apology

            Plato was known for his use of irony in his writings, and when Socrates addresses the court in "The Apology," these aspects are apparent to most readers. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, the Socratic method of teaching is "the method of teaching in which the master imparts no information, but asks a sequence of questions, through answering which the pupil eventually comes to the desired knowledge. Socratic irony is the pose of ignorance on the part of the master, who may in fact know more about the matter than he lets on" (Blackburn, 2008). Socratic irony is separately defined in the dictionary as "Socrates's irritating tendency to praise his hearers while undermining them, or to disparage his own superior abilities while manifesting them" (Blackburn, 2008). I will attempt to analyze Plato's use of irony throughout the Apology and look at various modern day philosophers' points of view on the subject.
             Socrates is known as one of the greatest philosophers of all time, but he never actually wrote any of his thoughts down on paper. Most of what we know about him comes from the writings of Plato, who was one of his students/followers. The Apology is the only one of these writings that was not written in the form of a dialogue but is instead a speech by Socrates, with the exception of one small part where he is questioning one of his accusers, Meletus. At first glance it seems by the title that Socrates is apologizing for something that he has done wrong, but actually the title comes from the Greek word "apologia" which was the defense's response to the prosecution's case, which in Greek was called the "kategoria". It was therefore Socrates' attempt to rebut the charges against him (Burrington, 2009). Something is definitely lost in the translation because Socrates did not believe he had done anything wrong and he thought that if he could get the jury to look at the facts and not listen to the rhetoric that had been used by the prosecution they would easily see that he was innocent of all the charges against him.

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