Socrates On Trial tells of Socrates’s return to a modern city that is plagued by prejudice, privilege and populism. On resuming his questioning in the agora he is arrested, interrogated by his prosecutors, questioned by his Judge, and confessed to by his inquisitor. On a Festival Day, he explores a new model for the just city –a city based not on mastery but on learning –before offering a new apology to the court that will, once again, decide his fate.
This new/old Socrates offers the city a renewed vision of justice by reconceptualizing the meaning and significance of thinking and education. From the force of Socratic questioning, he unfolds a different logic of truth, freedom, and justice. His conversations exert a gravitational force that draws key cultural elements of the city — property, wealth, money, family, essence, gendered and racialized identities, production, distribution and consumption — into its educational orbit.
At stake here is the vulnerability of modern democracy to authoritarian leaders and their sponsors. Influenced by sophisticated propaganda people’s frustration with democracy is channeled into visceral anger on the one hand, and into disillusioned scepticism and cynicism on the other. Belief in truth and education collapses in exhaustion and fatigue, caught in the headlights of seemingly irresolvable and petrifying rational paradoxes that block all paths to social justice. Socrates On Trial, describing the return of Socrates to the modern city, heralds a new education for such a city.