In the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King Jr. says that ‘academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience’. So, when and how did Socrates practice civil disobedience?
I feel King was completely justified in referring to Socrates
Let me start by saying why I found this odd. Socrates asserts multiple times in “Crito” that he is a man who follows the Law. His entire motif behind not escaping from the prison when he could is that he is obliged to not disrespect the law. Coming from such a person, why would he practice civil disobedience the basis of which is to knowingly go against a law? Then – Socrates and Civil Disobedience: How did that happen?
Socrates Was Held In Deep Respect By His Students ..
In conclusion, Socrates is civilly disobedient. To quote Socrates yet again, “That government with all its power did not terrify me into doing anything wrong.” (The Apology, 32 e)
political doctrines of civil disobedience
My conception of civil disobedience is when an individual or group willfully violates what he or she perceives as an unjust statute. With this conception, I believe the conclusion that Socrates practiced civil disobedience is incorrect because I do not agree with the assumptions needed to reach the conclusion; such as the assumption that Socrates actually violated the laws he was charged with, and the assumption that his violation was done willfully. Thus, I concur with the first opinion presented in comment #1 that Socrates follows the law to the best of his ability, but disagree by saying that it is very inconclusive that he violates the laws. Socrates was “charged” with breaking the two laws of corrupting the youth, and not believing in the Gods. The former charge I believe Socrates would agree is a just law based on his notion that corrupting the youth causes harm, and causing harm in unjust. The latter charge I believe can be discredited by Meletus inconsistency as Socrates paraphrases Meletus by saying that “Socrates is guilty not of believing in gods but believing in gods (27a).” My conclusion is that Socrates is in jail not because he broke the laws, but rather because the majority acted on the perception that he broke the laws. Furthermore, my other conclusion is that if such evidence can presented that Socrates did violate the laws, he did not willfully do so. Such evidence comes in his defense in the Apology, and the dialogue in Crito. Socrates professes he would not commit an unjust action, and one such action that Socrates acknowledges as unjust is the corruption of the youth.