Socrates Vs Thoreau Essay, Research Paper
Having read both Crito and Civil Disobedience there are several
conspicuous similarities as well as notable differences. Both of these
documents deal with the government and how the people should view it.
However, in Crito, Socrates is more devoted to the government and would
uphold its decisions even if it cost him his life. Thoreau on the other hand
believes that the government is not always right and it is up to the people
to criticize it so that it can be improved.
Both of these essays were written while the authors were in jail.
Socrates is in jail awaiting the death penalty in Crito, while Thoreau wrote
Civil Disobedience while he was incarcerated. This similarity however creates
different tones in both essays. In Crito the moral is to be obedient and
submissive to the government at all costs, even death. Thoreau however
probably felt much greater hatred of the government for his minor penalty and
instead of preaching obedience he went off on a different tangent.
Despite Thoreau?s contumacious thoughts his essay holds more promise for
the future because instead of blindly accepting obvious faults in the system,
Thoreau encourages protest for even the minor flaws because otherwise no
progress will ever come out of our society. His ideas bear resemblance to the
general flow of knowledge, we must speak out against established beliefs in
the face of adversity, much like Copernicus did when he ruled the Sun and not
the Earth as the center of the universe. He challenged the beliefs of the
church and risked his life and liberty but we have to thank him today because
although he made his life more miserable the knowledge we have gained has
made everyone else?s better.
Although Thoreau has made many pertinent and valid points in his essay
Crito also holds many notable aspects in dealing with government problems.
Crito teaches peace and stamina when dealing with problems. Eventually
through popular opinion what must be done will be done, however for the time
being you must obey all laws regardless of the severity or pertinence to you
and must welcome the punishment if you knowingly commit a crime. This sort of
non violent way of life is only suited for an utopia. The reason this cannot
exist in the real world with quick results is that everybody wants different
rules and laws. The Catholic church has quite different views on what is
right and wrong than a criminal. there can be no one set of laws that
encompasses all the people and nobody feels oppressed. There will always be
In conclusion both Crito and Civil Disobedience raise many points on how
the people are supposed to react to an oppressive government. However, in the
real world only the teachings in Civil Disobedience can bring about change
because nobody will ever hear us if we don?t complain. It is through
criticism, and protest that abrupt reform can be brought around. Crito?s
lessons only work in an imaginary utopia where everybody wants the same thing
and everyone has the same exact same views on the government.