Socrates and Mind Games

-When people listen to a person with prejudice, they are more interested in what they say wrong than what they say. With these words, Socrates aimed to destroy prejudices and prevented interference in his defense by asking him not to be interrupted even before he started his defense.-

-Socrates wanted his audience to listen passively in an environment where it is even difficult to make the sound out of the intelligence pit of Agora, and even his speech echo can be difficultly heard-

-On the other hand, Socrates took on the role of the audience in his defense, giving the audience, perhaps even the judges, the freedom not to think.-

…Here, Socrates shaped the standard of superiority on a fundamental value that everyone accepts, and then he created a new one and put himself into this new class. He used a general acceptance to create a unique acceptance, defined a new virtue, and introduced himself as having this virtue…

When we examine the defense of Socrates in general terms, we see that he likens his accusers to spiritual beings, and defines him as some people who do not even have the heart to confront him, but who forces him to defend himself against them.

These sentences, which Socrates said while opening his speech, show that he considers those who accuse him heartily despicable. Socrates openly stated at the very beginning of his speech that he questions the reasoning of his audience, but he attributes his assurance to this reasoning ability. Those who accuse themselves; He heard him warn his audience that Socrates was a master orator, thus distorting the truth.

He took this rhetoric that would create a bad impression about him even before he came to his defense. He therefore would close the understanding of the judges, at the very beginning of his defense and gave the following message to his judges and audience:

I know what is being said about me. I know what kind of image that is said about me creates in your mind. I will briefly summarize what has been said about me and answer all of them. It is wrong to believe what is said about me without listening to me. As for why it is wrong, it is not necessary to go far, it can be understood even from my current speech, because the truth I will say will be the assurance of others.

Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

He tells his judges that it’s terrible that he has to defend himself because people whose identities he doesn’t even know are accusing him, because these heartless people are jealous and evil. With the metaphor of colliding with the shadows, the message is given that these people are vicious and insignificant in the audience’s eyes.

When Socrates says it is challenging to deal with these people for these reasons, he actually creates a sympathy field for himself. So don’t think what I’m going to do here today is easy, I’m in great difficulty right now, it gives its subtext to its audience.

This tactic of Socrates is widely used.

Because by saying this, he first shows that he understands that he is listening to the other party and that he is not there to argue. On the other hand, Socrates creates curiosity by saying that I will tell you the whole truth.

These four sentences of Socrates are actually the most critical part for his defense. Because with these four sentences, Socrates guaranteed that he would direct the course of his next 1.5, maybe 2-hour speech, which will make a decision about his life.

Until this stage, Socrates may have convinced his audience, but he does not refrain from closing. Instead, he appeals to the reasoning of his audience:

“I hope you don’t find my wish unfounded,” he says.

Socrates doesn’t really expect anything here, he just sends his audience to their subconscious minds that if they find this request out of place and focus on the way they say it instead of listening to what they say, they will fall into error and move away from wisdom.

“… don’t be surprised if you see me talking like I do here, so don’t interrupt me.”

You ask why?

Because people don’t just listen to things. Communication is two-way. If you are not the most competent source on that subject, or if your audience does not see you as the most competent person there at that moment, especially in the case of Socrates, the strong is there to judge the weak;

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

Socrates wanted his audience to listen passively in an environment where it is even difficult to make the sound out of the intelligence pit of Agora, and evenhis speech echo can be difficultly heard.

In this way, the audience can sit back until the defense of Socrates is over, instead of setting up to think and answer in their minds. Then, if they have something to say and think about, they can say it last.

Socrates has set himself another task by asking anyone to interrupt:
Now he will ask the questions that need to be asked himself.

This may seem like a disadvantage. But a well-prepared speaker knows that he should have already answered the questions that will be asked rather than being asked questions. He wants to answer possible questions in the conversation and to answer them in the order he wants. In this way, he can keep the attention on himself and give striking answers in striking times.

On the other hand, Socrates took on the role of the audience in his defense, giving the audience, perhaps even the judges, the freedom not to think.

Now Socrates will reason, Socrates will ask, and Socrates will answer. Socrates took this risk, and when his work is done, there should be no doubt in mind, he should have acted as his own lawyer.

As a matter of fact, Socrates immediately asks his first question:

This attitude of Socrates is very wise. Because he first showed his respect to the office and emphasized his foreignness, he gained the freedom to be himself when his life on the edge and demanded not to be prosecuted because of his style in the court.

He showed that he was one of the people by saying that he would speak as he spoke in the streets of Agora, he put himself in a low position before the judge symbolically, and then skillfully formed a sentence that would teach the judge the work of the judge.

The judge is superior, yes, this does not contradict Socrates’ previous arguments and statements. But now Socrates has conditional on the superiority of the judge. The superiority of the judge lies not in what is said, but in revealing the truth. Probably everyone must have agreed with what Socrates said.

Indeed, this is not an extreme exaltation but merely telling the truth. Socrates has already promised this from the very beginning of his speech. Socrates actually valued his own approval when he made everyone’s acceptance a conditional instrument of superiority (the judge’s superiority is hidden in his ability to distinguish right from wrong). My consent is also the consent of the public.

He then defined his own role in this passive listening and described himself as a speaker before the judge. In his defense; “If the judge’s superiority is to distinguish right from wrong, the speaker’s is, to tell the truth,” he says.

So where did this come from now?

What makes a speaker a superior speaker is that he speaks the truth in all circumstances? Is it just the right thing to say rather than how he says it?

If we leave aside the intention reading when saying these words of Socrates, this sequential sentence is an important example of showing how one right and one wrong can be made right in people’s eyes.

The quality of the judge is hidden in distinguishing right from wrong, yes, because that is what his profession promises. But the speaker may not be correct.

Here, Socrates shaped the standard of superiority on a fundamental value that everyone accepts, and then he created a new one and put himself into this new class. He used a general acceptance to create a unique acceptance, defined a new virtue, and introduced himself as having this virtue.

And then he started his defense. Before he even started his defense, he broke down the prejudices, defined his accusers, himself, and his judges, and stated his characteristics. Like a theatrical text, the characters and their basic features are now shaped in our minds and only the playing of the play remains.

Socrates created a defense space for him to speak and manage the speech without interruption, preventing his audience from thinking for enmity and allowing them to lean back.

He gained sympathy for himself with the alien analogy, compared his courage with those who accuse him, described himself as a man who spoke the truth with all his truth, and introduced his character to the audience by stating that he saw his speaker’s virtue in this feature. Thus, even though he is defending himself like a prisoner here today, he has shown that he is self-confident and confident from the very beginning of his speech.

Ankara University Faculty of Law | Gazi University InfoSec Eng. | METU Cyber Security | Data Security/Privacy Counselor