Given that Diogenes was much more disruptive in his attempts to spread philosophy, is there any reason he wasn't sentenced as Socrates was?

  • It was the real Socrates who was tried, not the fictional hero from Plato's texts. There is a decent wikipedia article <a href="en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Socrates"> The Trial of Socrates </a> with refs. – sand1 Mar 3 '16 at 18:40

I would suggest it is because he didn't have active followers in large numbers until after his death.

Aristotle was subject to the same charge as Socrates at the end of his life, though he was exiled rather than killed. So the degree of disruption, the intention to be disruptive, and the actual hostility evident all seem less important in this particular charge than the number of people affected.

(Although by some accounts, Aristotle's sentence was all about racism and revenge. Aristotle's father was Medean in origin and Athens had gone to war against Alexander the Great -- Aristotle's family's king and his own prior student.)

Athens had very active courts, but no written laws. In the spirit of absolute democracy, elected jurors voted on everything and their decisions were bound by no precedent. So the number of people who directly met the offending opinions and were offended probably controlled whether your case went forward toward prosecution more than any specific definition of the crime involved.

  • I have the understanding that Socrates' targets ware part of the elite class in Athens. He wasn't just being a nuisance to citizens, he was going up to politicians and generals and mocking them publicly. Basically, he pissed off people who very much held the influence to make him stand trial. – Brian R Mar 3 '16 at 17:58
  • That was my idea, too. But then someone gave me Aristotle's biography in capsule form. The later case against Aristotle makes me question the relevance. it seems unlikely that Aristotle was going around mocking people. Unless you buy that Aristotle's case was all racism, that undercuts the notion that Socrates' case was mostly about tweaking the wrong noses. – jobermark Mar 3 '16 at 18:16
  • It's interesting I think, that Plato was part of the aristocracy, his mother was connected to Pericles for example. – Mozibur Ullah Mar 3 '16 at 19:39
  • Not Pericles, Solon. – Mozibur Ullah Mar 3 '16 at 21:10
  • I would buy that. His disdain for material reality was much higher than Aristotle's, and that is kind of a class marker in the West. It seems to me that not having to struggle for material things makes it easier to question their ultimate value. Like an abusive parent, (cognitive-dissonance theory says) you value the world more if it causes you both pain and pleasure in good measure than if it offers you too much more of one than the other. (Much to the confusion of non-abusive parents.) – jobermark Mar 3 '16 at 21:43

To add to jobermark's answer, it has at least in part to do with the historical context: the Peloponnesian War had ended only a few years earlier, and Athens had just resumed a democratic form of government after the reign of the Thirty Tyrants. Disruption of Athenian society was not a theoretical concern, and so was taken very seriously. Philip and Alexander, on the other hand, did not need to have the same concern for Diogenes.

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