TA Brian Looper M 11am /W 12pm
November 25, 2013
Plato’s Crito In Plato’s dialogue Crito, we get a second-hand account of Crito’s attempts to convince Socrates to escape execution as well as Socrates’ arguments as to why staying would be more sensible. Socrates has lived by his principles his entire life. He believes that escaping would defy everything that he stands for. Crito believes that Socrates’ break out will benefit himself and others more than harm them. Although both sides of the argument have equal value, Crito’s final argument about Socrates’ consequential harm toward his children make his plead for escape more reasonable than Socrates’ decision to remain in prison. By sentencing himself to death, Socrates is depriving society of his teachings leaving them, and more importantly his sons, to live with ignorance. Crito begins his first argument telling Socrates that by staying in prison waiting to be executed, he is hurting his friends by depriving them of his friendship and filing them with grief (44b). His friends do not wish for him to die and if they can help then they must. Socrates replies by saying that they will be harmed more if he escapes. They will be accomplices altering the course that justice must take in accordance to the law. He also fears that they may have their land and riches taken away for causing trouble. Socrates is humble in his attempts to discourage Crito not to do anything at his expense. However, his humility can also be interpreted as selfishness. He does not wish to escape; he does not think that Crito’s intentions are in the right place because Socrates does not want to defy his political obligation. Socrates is invested in carrying out justice that he does not grasp that what has been done to him is unjust. He dismisses his sentence as something that must be done although it was conceived by majority rule because he did not defend himself righteously during his trial, causing him to believe that he must abide by Athenian law. His stubbornness will leave his friends without his honorable teachings and work. Crito’s second argument is that he will be accused of not helping Socrates and valuing his money more than his friend’s life (44c). Crito brings forth this argument because he believes that no one will suppose that Socrates would rather choose death than the possibility to escape. However, Socrates is not worried what the majority will think; he only accepts the opinions of those who are experts. Socrates replies that Crito should not be so concerned as to what the majority thinks, Crito, like all people should only consider the good things that a man has to say. The most sensible people will believe the truth of the matter and that is the only opinion that should be considered. Socrates does not seem too worried about Crito and his other friends’ reputation because he believes that he is doing the morally correct thing by fulfilling the law.
Crito’s third argument is that Socrates is benefiting his enemies by letting them get their own way at his expense (45c). Socrates was wrongly convicted of a crime that he did not commit. The passive community that wished to silence him did not necessarily do what was just. They acted on their desires, altering the law of Athens by wrongly accusing Socrates. Socrates is doing them a great favor by sub missing to the underserved punishment. Socrates replies to Crito with his view of the law as parents. It does not matter if he was wrongly accused, he must obey the law because he has an implicit duty as a citizen of Athens to uphold that law. His view of the law as parents creates a stronger moral presumption where one must not disobey the law because disobeying one’s parent is shameful. Shame can be seen as worse than death because Socrates would rather die than shame his city; Crito, as mentioned earlier does not want his reputation to be shamed for not helping Socrates escape.
In Crito’s fourth