Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno and Phaedo

Socrates and High-Mindedness College

Aristotle’s definition of the virtue of high-mindedness in Nichomachean Ethics, and of what constitutes the excess and deficiency of this virtue, poses a problem when applied to Socrates' in Plato’s Apology. On one hand, Socrates is high-minded when he accepts his death sentence, despite believing that he is serving an important function in Athens, and because he advises people without charging a fee. On the other hand, Socrates shows timidity because he does not spread his beliefs in public affairs or make distinctions between the rich and poor, which would be characteristics of the small-souled person. Aristotle’s criteria for high-mindedness gives us pause as to whether Socrates is consistently virtuous. During his defense speech, Socrates displays both the characteristics of high-mindedness and small-souledness, indicating a flaw in Aristotle’s definition of the virtue, since according to Aristotle, one cannot be virtuous and deficient of a virtue at the same time.

Socrates fits the definition of high-mindedness because he does not spare his life, despite believing that he does not deserve the death penalty. Even though he believes he was given a divine role to play in making Athens a better place, Socrates understands that...

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