Plato's Crito

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Socrates has thoroughly justified his own decision to obey the opinions of the majority and

serve out the sentence that his own city has deemed appropriate for his crimes. At the beginning

of this piece, Socrates has presented a period of questions and answers through dialogue with

Crito. Throughout the dialogue Socrates is explaining his reasoning for not running from the

government. Crito does not understand the madness of Socrates, Crito will do whatever it takes

to help his friend to flee, instead of being exiled by the government. AI do not think that what

you are doing is right, to give up your life when you can save it, and to hasten your fate as your

enemies would hasten it, and indeed have hastened it in their wish to destroy you.@(Crito p.58c)

Throughout the begining of the dialog, Crito is expressing his feelings of why he believes

Socrates should flee from the city.

Crito makes many valid points on why he disagrees with

Socrates decision to bare this misfortune. Crito offers to do on not fleeingbeing majorints

expressing to Socrates, that a man as courageous as Socrates and who has lived his life through

virtue . AYou seem to me to choose the easiest path, whereas one should choose the path a good

and courageous man would choose, particularly when one claims throughout one=s life to care

for virtue.@(Crito p.59d) Through the dialogue the questions and answers within Socrates and

Crito establish to major themes in which hold true throughout the work. The first being that a

person must decide whether the society in which one lives has a just reasoning behind it=s own

standards of right and wrong. The second being, that a person must have pride in the life that he

or she leads. In establishing basic questions of these two concepts, Socrates has precluded his

own circumstance and attempted to prove to his companion Crito, that the choice that he has

made is just. AI am the kind of man who listens only to the argument that on reflection seems best

to me. I cannot, now that this fate has come upon me, discard the arguments I used; they seen to

me much the same.@(Crito p.59b) The introduction of this work has also provided the concept

that it is our society or majority that has dictated what is considered virtuous action. According to

Socrates we have been given every opportunity to reject our society and renounce what it has

stood for and against. ANot one of our laws raises any obstacle or forbids him, if he is not

satisfied with us or the city, if one of you wants to go and live in a colony or wants to go

anywhere else, and keep his property.@ (Crito p.63d) Socrates states; that making a conscious

choice or effort to remain under the influence of a society is an unconscious agreement with that

society to live your life by it=s standards and virtues.

Socrates states after establishing his own agreement with his city=s virtues that he

believes in the validity of the decision imposed upon himself. He states that his decision is

justified by the fact that the laws and governing agents of the society must command a certain

degree of respect. Any person who would unjustly disobey these laws creates a deliberate attempt

to destroy them, as well as, the society which has imposed them. For example; AHowever, that

whoever of you remains when he sees how we conduct our trials and manage the city in other

ways, has in fact come to an agreement with us to obey our instructions.@ (Crito p.63e) If the

decisions of the city=s governing agents are not thoroughly respected as just and cohesive parts

of society, the very structure by which the society stands is subject to collapse. If a person is

found to be in violation of what his or her society stands for and does not accept the

consequences for his or her actions, then there can not be a system of law in place to create order.

A You must either persuade it or obey its orders, and endure in silence whatever it instructs you

to endure, whether blows or bonds, and if it leads you into war or be wounded or killed you must

obey.@(Crito p.63b) The society in which a person lives creates a mutual relationship in which

every person in that society is indebted to, if he or she willingly accepts that society for their own.

Following along these basic concepts, Socrates then adapts them to his own circumstances

Crito, his companion , has presented to Socrates . The option to escape from his captors and

renounce their decision on his fate. Socrates view in Crito=s suggestion to escape is one in

which Crito begins to understand. Socrates suggests. AI mean the majority of men. For us,

however, since our argument leads to this, the only valid consideration is whether we should be

acting rightly in giving with the escape, or whether in truth we shall do wrong in doing all this.@

(Crito p.61c) Socrates has concluded that if he were to follow Crito=s advice he would be

committing several wrong actions against a society in which he calls his own. The first of these

being his own forebears.

To disobey your own society, according to Socrates, is to betray what you were taught to

be right by the virtues of your own parents. And what they held to be true, your fore fathers

brought you into a society that they believed to be profound and just. AIs your wisdom such as

not to realize that your country is to be honored more then your mother, your father, and all your

ancestors, that is more to be revered and more sacred, and that it counts for more among the gods

and sensible men, that you must worship it, yield to it and placate it=s anger@.(Crito p.63b) To

renounce these virtues would be a disgrace. ADo you think you have the right to retaliation

against your country and it=s law? That if we undertake to destroy you and think it right to do so

you can undertake to destroy us@(Critop. p.63b), you who truly cares for virtue. This would be

a disgrace against your own families legacy and the dreams that they hold for you, and your

future. Society, in the day of Socrates has only requested for two things in return for the

fulfillment and prophesizing of morally correct virtue The choice has been made very clear, to

either persuade society that it has acted unjustly, or to do as society has asked without hindrance

or complaint. The person who has disobeyed according to Socrates has done neither one. @We

say that the one who disobeys does wrong in three ways, first, because in us he disobeys his

parents, also those who brought him up, and in spite of his agreement, he neither obeys us nor, if

we do something wrong does he try to persuade us to do better@. (Crito p.63e) This person only

serves to justify their own decisions, actions, and foregoes the utterances of those who gave them

the life they have renounced.

Socrates then states that by remaining a member of your society, you have in fact accepted

the society as your own. He uses himself as the only example and states that by living in his own

city and choosing that city to raise a family. Socrates states, ADid you choose us and agree to be

a citizen under us. Also, you have had children in this city, thus showing that it was congenial to

you. Then your trial you could have assessed your penalty at exile if you wished, and you are now

attempting to do against the cit=s wishes what you could have done with her consent. He has in

fact been satisfied by the same values that his city has held dear. To disobey his society in its

decision against himself would be to renounce what his city has accomplished both for himself and

its other residents. Socrates needs and must hold his head up with pride in knowing that he was

not hypocritical in his decision. The agreement that he made within his city to obey the laws to

live as a good citizen makes the thought of exile shameful and therefore unacceptable. ANot being

sentenced to death, and fleeing , Awill also strengthen the conviction of the jury that they passed

the right sentence on you, for anyone who destroys the laws could easily be thought to corrupt

the young and the ignorant.@ 64)

Upon establishing the basic concept of right and wrong at the introduction to the piece

Socrates has created an argument that he can not consider to be unjust. Running away from the

decision that his own society has made would be an affirmation of his own guilt in the of his

family and peers. Even though he may have been wrongly imprisoned and sentenced to death, he

holds very little value in the belief that two wrongs can achieve a justifiable pardon in society He

has firmly stood before his own value system and society=s beliefs, and has presented his own

opinions on how he believes has been right in his actions, These affirmations of his own

conviction to a law abiding community have led him to an unshaking belief that to ruin all of the

work that he has accomplished. He would consequently made himself a traitor and guilty in all

prolonging eyes.

Socrates has very carefully and thoughtfully consented to what his own city has deemed to

be righteous and justified. His thoughts on his destiny are completely unselfish, as his only wish is

to preserve the society around him which has accepted him and his family for so many years. He

has indignantly renounced the idea of self preservation and any attempt to escape because of the

potential harm and damage that it ultimately will cause. The disgrace of thought as he being

guilty would force all that he has forged to hide in exile from the wrath of the society which he

has protected.

Socrates has succeeded in justifying his actions by showing how devastating his

disobedience could possibly be. In considering all of the points that he has made in the defense of

his decision. Socrates can maintain his own pride, and sense of right and wrong. He has shown

others, such as Crito . There is a certain satisfaction in maintaining ones own innocence while not

accepting a hollow victory for one may possibly last for many society=s yet to come.

By maintaining a harmony between what is right and the expression of a persons own

opinions he has made possible the ultimate truth, the belief in what has worked and staying within

the boundaries of decent and god fearing society. The laws of the society in which Socrates lived

condemned him to die for his own conviction and the reasons for Socrates to remain and accept

the punishments of that society have proved to be wise and justified.