To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience.

from Martin Luther King, Jr – Letter From Birmingham Jail on Rap Genius


Socrates was known for being willing to deeply inquire into the philosophies of the so-called “wise,” ultimately exposing them for shams (although he does so innocently, seeking to learn more). His willingness to be the “gadfly of Athens,” which ultimately cost him his life, presents a bold example of academic inquiry which resonates even today.

Xenophon and Plato, two of Socrates' students, wrote their accounts of his self-defense against charges of corrupting the youth.

For MLK Jr.’s example, this is a form of disobedience to the laws of Athens for the sake of a more important moral law.

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