“Isn’t it really the public who say this who are themselves Sophists on a grand scale…” (214, The Republic)
Who is talking: Socrates
Explanation and analysis of the quote: Socrates is trying to explain to Adeimantus that good characters can only remain good if they are brought up properly and raised in an environment that fosters goodness and excellence. However, Socrates makes the point that this hardly ever happens because the general public sways the opinions of those who are naturally gifted with their ill-thought-out ideas.
The public likes to blame technical sophists or professional teachers for corrupting the gifted, but in reality, the public is partly to blame for the corrpution taking place. The public are sophists themselves because they have a heavy influence over others. If somebody did not agree with the public opinion back then, they were ostracized or even put to death, so it became very difficult to hold radical ideas, even if the ideas were good. To avoid persecution, people, found it easier to conform with society’s widley-accepted ideas fighting the urge to pursue their own agendas. There was a great deal of pressure to think and act like the majority causing a decrease in the gifted living their lives to the fullest.
Connect the quote to today’s society: It’s always difficult to go against the grain and stand by an idea that’s deemed radical by society, however, radical ideas are what lead to change. For example, Greta Thunberg skipping school everyday Friday to protest the climate crisis was an extremely radical idea a year ago. However, she knew that skipping school would show people that she was not going to put up with the political inaction taking place. Today, thousands of students skip school on Fridays to protest with Greta and millions participate in climate walkouts, inspired by Greta’s bravura. Greta pursued her gift and carried out her agenda despite public backlash about her skipping school. It is her dedication to going against the norm that has brought so much attention to the climate crisis and inspired millions of people to band together and protect Mother Earth. However, lots of people still find it difficult to walk out during school and attend protests in DC because it goes against the norm and students may risk getting into trouble. When students conform with the norm, it is easier in the moment, but they sacrifice pushing for political action to prevent climate change, something more important in the long run.