In their work on self-reliance, Socrates and Emerson similarly reference this idea and how standing up for one’s own beliefs will impact others. Socrates’ charges brought against him by accusers such as Meletus and Anytus are punishable by death, though he defends his lifestyle instead of his life. He refuses to surrender his original ideas and defends philosophy without changing his views even with the impending death sentence. In the same way, Emerson’s theme of self-reliance dictates that everyone should combat conformity. Likewise, my mother always taught me that believing in yourself is key to being ndependent and unique.
Although many people assert that they rely on themselves, I claim that Socrates’ and Emerson’s beliefs about self-reliance are significant because believing in oneself and standing up for what is right can provoke thought and change. After being habitually imitated and misunderstood, Socrates proclaims that various people dispute him based on his ideas and how he expresses himself. In Socrates’ view, There is another thing:-young men.. often imitate me.. -and then if somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practice or teach? They do not know… they repeat the ready-made charges which re used against all philosophers.. hey have filled your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies (Plato 197).
Socrates argues that people usually imitate and disagree with him, and they don’t actually know what they argue about. These imitators only know that he is a philosopher and they think that is wrong in itself. My own view is that people are quick to mindlessly agree with everything and generate cliches. Like robots, they do as instructed to but do not ask nor care to know why they do something. It may appear petty, but if this remains, accusations would fly around, none of which would be true.
This is crucial because it goes with the argument that Emerson claims self-reliance is the cure. For example, during the Salem Witch Trials, people went around claiming that women were witches without any evidence or clear basis. The accusers, brainwashed into thinking they were correct, contributed to hundreds of deaths which could have been prevented if people thought for themselves. Likewise, Emerson also brings up this idea of imitation and how it is essentially plagiarism because they steal others’ thoughts and think of them as their own.
Socrates and Emerson both imply that people are not relying on hemselves for their own opinions, but they copy and paste others’ opinions and naively value these. Emerson insists that the minute people question the status quo, they are doomed and condemned for speaking against traditional ideals such that they could face imprisonment or even death. Consequently, he states, “But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account” (Emerson 3).
In other words, Emerson believes that people who speak out against a favored dea will experience consequences for challenging it. Moreover, Socrates uses his mindfulness, not mindlessness, to show people that nothing is as it seems and that they need to formulate their own opinions. Unfortunately, Socrates’ bravery and willingness to teach his opinions leads to his imprisonment and the death penalty, but his ideas fortunately still enlighten people today. For instance, we are learning about Socrates’ ideas about education and government as well as understanding why philosophy was so important to him that he risked his life for it.
Socrates’ consciousness and awareness of eople’s compulsion to conform to society due to the fear of change compels him to speak out. His non-conformist teachings and beliefs are what led to his trial. Just like the trial, the hundreds of the people mentioned are the jury and their input will save or suspend Socrates’ life based on his unique thoughts. In reality, when people bring new ideas to the table, they are more likely to be successful rather than being in a cycle where reused, worn thought is counterproductive.
For example, we had a class discussion in Honors Anatomy once, and the same ideas were repeatedly talked about to the point hat the conversation ended because there was no point in collaborating since there was an absence of new ideas. In this case, we imprisoned ourselves by our inability to create new ideas and the fact that all of us ignored the issue. If we were conscious of our mistakes and attempted to defend our ideas more, the outcome would have been more positive. In Socrates’ time, he tried to improve and inspire knowledge by being aware of its problems and standing by his beliefs even though they put him in hot water.
Emerson’s idea of being imprisoned due to consciousness is comparable to Socrates’ mindfulness not arelessness which fuels him even to the end. Socrates refuses to change his actions despite the obstacles that he knows will ensue. Socrates says, “Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to you… either acquit me or not; but whichever you do, understand that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times” (Plato 203-204). This is important being that Socrates knows he will probably lose the trial, but he asserts that either outcome will not persuade him to change his ways.
In addition, it ties into the idea of an examined life being worth living since Plato was able to write about Socrates’ life and kept his legacy alive. He is widely well-known whereas Meletus is just another adversary. Therefore, Socrates thought that his life’s mission of philosophy was worth dying for. His refusal to stand down set an example for others; his example of not fearing death was not some feigned act of valor, instead it was because he was not afraid of admitting the unknown. The little amount of facts that he knew about death made him indifferent towards it.
Ironically, his legacy is his own kind of afterlife for the improvement of people. For instance, when soldiers enter war knowing that their lives are at stake but choose to anyways for the greater good of he country. Emerson and Plato agree that expressing one’s own ideas and truths can impact the future, even if the majority’s views do not reflect these. To demonstrate the importance of self-reliance, Emerson concedes that, “It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their education… n their speculative views” (Emerson 15). Basically, Emerson explains that his idea of self-reliance is necessary in several situations and should be implemented. Self-reliance is the solution to mindless thinking. I believe that, ike Emerson and Socrates describe, people must stand up for what they believe in no matter what the repercussions are.
The more people rely on themselves, the more change there will be to reform the world. This change will lead to more inspiration. Even though he faced opposition and a person assassinated him for having different ideas than his own, Martin Luther King Jr. efused to silence himself since he was prepared to face the consequences of being a leader against discrimination. Just as Emerson, Socrates encourages a protest against all plain and worn out ideas and inspires new progress. In an argument to discredit Meletus and Anytus, Socrates logically argues that “If you think that by killing men you can prevent someone from censuring your evil lives, you are mistaken.. the easiest and the noblest way is not to be disabling others, but to be improving yourselves” (Plato 211).
Socrates concludes his case by explaining to his accusers that the amount of men put to death by them is just a horrible act and not anything noble. Socrates gives Meletus a lesson in not just avoiding problems like he usually does but to confront them bravely like he did. This is significant because in the face of eath, Socrates still takes it upon himself to educate the one that will condemn him. In fact, as mentioned above, the Salem Witch Trials’ accusers attempted to rid the world of “evil,” however, they did not do anything except turn themselves into mass murderers.
Emerson and Plato both acknowledge an aversion which is self-reliance against conformists such as Meletus and Anytus. Like Socrates, Emerson emphasizes that people should be their true selves. According to Emerson, people must “Insist on yourself; never imitate” (Emerson 18). Anyone familiar with the saying, “be yourself” can appreciate this idea. He further xplains his method of self-reliance and how it will be beneficial in the long run. People should be self-reliant and pursue their ideas. I agree with how Emerson implied that no one should ever back down or succumb to imitation which leads to more mindless thinking.
Relying solely on yourself can present better opportunities than carelessly repeated nonsense. This is one of the reasons that teachers say not to cheat on tests. They explain that there is no use in trying to copy off of your partner’s work because they could be wrong, but people still do it. Therefore, these cheaters will never learn to figure something out on their wn. In life, the most successful people are the ones who are resilient and self-sufficient instead of selfish and easily discouraged.
Socrates also brought up imitation when he talked about young people imitating him, but they did not understand him. In the same way, Emerson’s theme of self-reliance is the foundation of independence. If other tyrants or corrupt people such as Meletus and Anytus killed off anyone they disagreed with, then there would not be many people left to provide differences in opinions or encourage learning via debates. Everyday would be like The Purge. In this film, people are able to spend a day committing