, Research Paper
Socrates Sides With?
Through my reading of Plato s Apology of Socrates and Crito, I have been able to see how Socrates makes important decisions and what he primarily bases his decisions on. As a individual person we have individual morals which lead us to our own moral or immoral decisions. Sometimes are own morals or beliefs might oppose the views of the state or the enforced law that clams to find justice. In this case we rely on our own beliefs that may be through passed down morals or through ones belief in a higher power to find justice. In my view I feel that Socrates respects the states law and ability to find justice but is willing to question it when his own morals or views on justice conflict with the states. With this idea in mind, I feel that Socrates would also take the same actions as Antigone in Sophocles s Antigone.
The story Antigone takes place in Thebes where Antigone s uncle Creon is the temporary king until Antigone s twin brothers Eteocles and Polyneices grow to an age where they can take over the thrown. when they became of age Creon was to choose one to take the throw. Polyneices thought that he would be king because he was the first born, but when Creon chose Eteocles to take the thrown. Polyneices was outraged and left Thebes and went to the neighboring city to fight against Thebes and ended up dying in battle, and Eteocles also died. Eteocles received a military burial with all the bells and whistles while Polyneices was sworn by Creon to receive no burial. Antigone decides that the ruling made by her uncle is unjust and goes against the king and secretly buries her brother because she feels that family comes before the state and even though he betrayed the state and fought against it he is family and therefore deserves to at least be buried. So the rest of the play is about Antigone s views on justice vs. her uncles views.
Creon as King of Thebes feels that although he is related to Polyneices he must rule with only the state in mind. Creon says to the people publicly, Polyneices, I say, shall have no burial (Antigone 197) This shows the citizens that he has only the state in mind and will also help him to bring the people together so that they will respect him and back his authority.
Antigone sees the other side that Creon fails to see or recognize. Antigone feels that the States ruling is unjust and not moral. So she goes against the state because she feels her morals will be the right thing to do. Antigone says to Ismene her sister, And now you can prove what you are: A true sister, or a traitor to your family. (Antigone 190) From this one can see that Antigone feels that family comes before the state and since it has not she will go against the state and do what she feels is right.
The question at hand is on what side would Socrates stand on, Creon s or Antigone s. I feel that Socrates has great respect for the state but is definitely not afraid to question officials to try and find Justice. He shows this attribute when he fights for his life in the Apology of Socrates. Prove of this is shown in the Apology when the Athenians other a deal to Socrates. They say they will let Socrates go as long as he promises to never to inquiry others and to stop philosophizing. They add that if they catch him continuing his practice that they will put him to death. Socrates responds, Athenians, I respect and I love you, but I ll obey the god rather than you. (Apology of Socrates 21) Through this one can see that he does respect the state but there are just things that the state rules on that he can not justify so he goes against them and does what he feels is right.
Through that one excerpt I find it to be clear that Socrates would stand by Antigone and her actions. Antigone says, Your edict, King was strong, But all your strength is weakness itself against The immortal uncovered laws of god. This is to an extent the same idea that Socrates said in the quote above. The idea is that the laws of the state are sometimes not the highest authority. In extreme cases humans are left to break the laws for what they believe is right even if it means they may die. Antigone claims that what she is doing his following the laws of the goods when she says to Ismene, You may do as you like, Since apparently the laws of the gods mean nothing to you. (Antigone 192) Socrates supports Antigone s same view when he says, You can be sure that the gad has commanded this, and I think that there s no greater good for the city than my service to the god. (Apology of Socrates 21) The contexts of this quotation comes when he is defending his reasons for philosophizing and telling the Athenians that there law is in no way going to stop him from what he does. Socrates feels that the gods or higher power have led him to believe his actions are not wrong and in is words, god has commanded what he does.
Others may see Socrates take the side of Creon. Yes one can legitimately argue that Socrates would take Creon s side. In fact there is no right answer to the question and there in fact will never be a right answer. A majority of the supporting evidence Socrates standing on Creon s side I feel comes from Crito. Crito is the follow up to the Apology of Socrates when Socrates is sitting in jail awaiting his death. Crito comes to Socrates to tell him that his death is just days away and that he is willing to pay for somebody to help him escape. Socrates questions Crito to find whether it would be the best thing to do after Athens had already found him guilty. They searched for what would be just and in the end Socrates finds that it would not be loyal to Athens if he escaped since he had a fair trial and said what he believed in.
In support of Creon s side Socrates says, One should never do what is unjust……Nor retaliate when one s been treated unjustly, as most people say, since one should never do injustice? (Crito 13) This would show that Socrates would feel that Antigone is retaliating against an unjust act which would mean that she is doing an unjust act. One supporting the Creon side may also say that since Socrates ended up sticking with his sentence and not escaping that he follows the laws handed down by the state. So by these few examples one could see other sides point of view
Is this side stronger than the side of Antigone? In my view Socrates siding with Antigone out weighs his siding with Creon. Here are some main points why I believe that Socrates would side with Antigone and not Creon. Antigone and Socrates both believe that there is a higher power than the state that commands them. With this believe they both feel that they are willing to risk death for what they believe in. They both also hold their families at a high level and would not want to see them hurt. we obviously know this to be true with Antigone and Socrates hints towards this same idea in the Apology when he says that he could have brought his family to the trial to show their grief but he would not want to put them through that for something that he has done. From this evidence that I have shown I strongly feel that Socrates would side with Antigone and he would have down the same if he was put in that situation.