Discussion on Plato

Essay by andresJoseUniversity, Bachelor'sB, May 2002

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Why Did Socrates Drink The Hemlock?

Plato's Crito presents us with an aging Socrates in an Athenian jail, awaiting his execution for crimes against the state. Among the charges he was convicted of was impiousness towards the Athenian god's and corruption of the youth. Socrates is visited by his close friend Crito, who assures and urges Socrates that he could escape form jail rather easily. Socrates refuses to run away from his predicament and as a result eventually drinks the Hemlock a few days later. Socrates decision was made much like most of his other decisions, by following a rational method known as the Elenchus. The method pursues reason above all else to make decisions. Socrates believes that in order to live a good life one must be just and honorable. To lead such a life means abiding by the laws of the state and the principles of one's character.

Socrates ultimate goal is to lead such a life. By escaping from jail for crimes of which he was found guilty, Socrates would disobey the government and ultimately everything he stood for in the Apology. Therefore in order for Socrates to realize the life he desires, he is justified in having great reverence for the Athenian government because this reverence is a result of applying the principles he holds dearest.

Socrates realizes that method is above all else in achieving a set of principles. He is aware of his situation and proceeds rationally to come up with a conclusion to his dilemma. Convinced that the opinions of many cannot necessarily be the basis for his actions, he refutes Crito's claim that his escape is justified because a number of the citizens of Athens desire it. Rather Socrates searches for a more sound foundation, one which can prove to hold up...