Socrates’ view on education level and voting process

Democracy has been one of the most cherished issues since ancient times. When we go to the times when this form of government emerged, we encounter Socrates and his unusual views in this sense.

In what ways did the philosopher, one of the founders of Greek philosophy, criticize democracy, and could he really be right when we consider the point that this form of government has reached since those days?

For almost thousands of years, we have considered democracy very important.


The Parthenon, which has been accepted as the greatest work of Ancient Greek architecture since ancient times in Ancient Athens, the civilization that created this concept in the details provided by Webtekno, has become a word almost synonymous with democracy; many democratic leaders had also made it a tradition to take pictures there.

For this reason, it is quite surprising that Ancient Greece, which is known to have made quite a splash in the field of philosophy, approached democracy, one of its other great achievements, with skepticism.

So, what was the reason for Socrates, the founding father of Greek philosophy, to approach this form of government so skeptically according to Plato’s dialogues?

In the 6th chapter of The Republic, Plato states that Socrates started talking to a character named “Adeimantus” and portrays the flaws of democracy by likening it to a ship.

Socrates asked Adeimantus, “If you were to travel in a ship, who would you prefer to decide who should be in charge of the ship?” He asks the question, “Should everyone be asked for their opinion, or should only people who have been trained in the rules and requirements of shipping be given a say?”

“Of course the latter,” says Adeimantus.

“Then,” Socrates replied, “Why do we think that everyone of age has the ability to choose who should run the country?” responds as.

The point that Socrates wants to draw attention to in this direction is that voting in elections is a skill rather than random intuition, and like every skill, it should be taught to people in a systematic way.

According to Socrates, allowing people to vote without a certain level of education was as irresponsible as making a random captain a captain in a stormy weather.

The philosopher himself suffered the betrayal of the voters who voted with this wrong strategy, and he was brought before the court in 39 BC for the crimes of disrupting and poisoning the Athenian order. The jury of 500 Athenians evaluated the case; Socrates was found guilty by a very small margin.

The death sentence given to Socrates with hemlock poison was just as tragic for Christians as the crucifixion of Jesus, and this punishment led to the philosopher’s death. On top of all this, Socrates was not in favor of giving the right to vote to only a small minority. He argued that only those who could handle matters rationally should vote.

At this point, it is necessary to examine the difference between intellectual democracy and democracy that comes as a birthright.

How far we can establish the relationship between wisdom and suffrage is open to debate. Socrates foresaw where this might lead thousands of years ago with “demagogy,” a system that the Greeks were more worried about than anything else.

At this point, when we look at the bad experiences of the Ancient Greeks with demagogues, an anecdote draws attention. For example, Alcibiades was considered a wealthy, charismatic, and well-spoken figure, and was famous for arranging an expedition to Sicily that did not recognize basic freedoms and ended badly.

Socrates; He knew that the electorate could easily undermine our orientation to simple answers, so he asked us to imagine the conflict between the two candidates.

He assumed that one of the candidates was a doctor and the other a candy store owner. The owner of the candy store would say of his rival doctor: “Look, this man has done terrible things to you. It hurt you, gave you bitter potions, and mixed with what you ate and drank. He will never offer you a feast like I did.”

Then he asked the voters, “Do you think the doctor will be able to give a tangible answer to this claim?” posed the question. The doctor’s response would probably be, “I’m going against your wishes to help you,” and of course, this answer would cause an uproar among the voters.

In this context, Socrates warned us thousands of years ago about the direction in which democracy would evolve.

Perhaps we preferred to think of democracy as an obvious good rather than a process that is only as effective as the education system that surrounds it, and we did not examine what this form of government actually entails and how it should function. Do you think our chosen one so far was the doctor or the owner of the sweet shop?

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