Plato and Crito :
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.
Throughout the beginning 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 fleeing being majority expressing to Socrates that a man as courageous as Socrates and who has lived his life through virtue. You 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.
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 its own standards of right and wrong and 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. I 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 seem to me much the same. 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. Not 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. 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 its 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…However, 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. 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 cannot be a system of law in place to create order.
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. 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. I 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. 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 than 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. To renounce these virtues would be a disgrace. Do you think you have the right to retaliation against your country and its law? That if we undertake to destroy you and think it right to do so you can undertake to destroy us, you who truly cares for virtue. This would be a disgrace against your own family’s 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. 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, did 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 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. Not being sentenced to death and fleeing will 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.
Upon establishing the basic concept of right and wrong at the introduction to the piece Socrates has created an argument that he cannot consider to be unjust. Running away from the decision that his own society has made would be an affirmation of his own guilt in 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 one’s own innocence while not accepting a hollow victory for one may possibly last for many societies yet to come.
By maintaining a harmony between what is right and the expression of a person’s 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.
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