Crito Essay, Research Paper
Crito, as reported by Plato, is an account by where Crito is attempting to influence Socrates that it is just to escape from prison to avoid certain death by execution. Socrates’ argument directly relates to the laws of the state and the role of the individual within it. The “Crito” exhibits the character of Socrates as a good citizen, who being unjustly condemned is willing to give up his life in obedience to the laws of the State.
This report will discuss the major elements in Socrates’ argument, regarding the injury and injustice he would cause by escaping from prison prior to his execution. Further discussion will be centered around Socrates’ ability to maintain this ideology despite his belief that the imposition of the sentence upon him, was in itself, unjust.
Crito, a longtime devoted friend and believer of Socrates’ ethical teachings presents a compelling argument to escape. Although the arguments of Crito have merit, they have not convinced Socrates that he should escape from prison. An escape would certainly denounce the laws of the state, which Socrates has always declared to uphold.
Escaping from prison would be a violation of the law of the land and would clearly imply that Socrates is an enemy to that which makes for an orderly society. To ensure that the orderly society remains civilized, a citizen has a moral responsibility to accept the penalty of law; thus, accepting the consequences resulting from a breech of that law whether just or unjust. Socrates decision could therefore bring a lasting effect to the people s loyalty to the laws and how they are adhered to now and in the future. Hence Socrates was looking out for the betterment of the Polis. By not adhering to the imposed judgement he would be bringing an injustice to the state, which he has dedicated his life and service to.
Crito argued that in the opinion of many people, both Socrates and his friends will be severely criticized if he does not make an attempt to escape. Socrates argues in defense of this position by calling attention to the danger that is associated with following public opinion. He illustrates that the opinion of some should be regarded and the opinion of others should be disregarded. Additionally, by his escaping, it would be of no benefit to him, his entrusted friends or family, as it would undoubtedly cause them injury. Those who would have assisted in his escape would have likely been driven into exile, lose their personal property and perhaps their citizenship. As for him personally, departing to a neighboring city would be very problematic as he would be regarded as an enemy and looked upon as a corrupter of the laws. Even moving to the less well governed state of Thessaly would be of no more benefit. Despite the support of Crito s friends, the citizens would ridicule him for his hypocrisy.
Socrates and Crito are both in unanimity that the sentence was in fact unjust. Therefore, Crito s opinion is that it would not be wrong for Socrates to escape because he has been imprisoned unjustly. However, Socrates does not agree with Crito s thoughts, maintaining his view of the necessity of fulfilling the terms of the sentence. Socrates believes that when the state s interest conflicts with that of an individual, the individual should not object to the state’s imposition of power upon him, even though that which is being imposed may be unjust. Socrates bases his argument on the fact that he is a citizen of the state. Socrates was born, nourished and educated within its boundaries and as a result has a committed obligation toward it.
Socrates realizes he must not leave in an effort to escape the execution of the court s sentence. Leaving would not only be dishonorable, but would indicate to the people an insincerity that he is not willing to abide by the ideals he has characterized during his teachings throughout his life.
Socrates can depart from this life with a pure conscience, knowing that it is better to die with honor under the limitations the law has set, then to live in shame. Further, to die under these circumstances will provide him with a good defense when he stands before the tribunal of the judgement of the dead. He will stand before them as a martyr to the injustice of not the law, but those who have abused the law in order to bring about his demise.
Socrates demonstrated his true character in the Crito. He calmly and logically offered his own moral point of view into his decision to remain in custody, and await his execution, which is a lot more than what I would have done. If I had had the chance to escape, then I would have taken in a heartbeat, because in my opinion I would have rather been a hypocrite, than dead. I feel that if you are wrongly accused, then there is no basis for justice, unless it s against your accusers. I would have escaped, and went on to other place and taught my beliefs there. I don t really believe he would ve been a hypocrite for it, because he his taking his teachings to more people, which would have been beneficial to everybody.
But in the end, despite Crito s pleas, the words began to fall on deaf ears as Socrates is content to follow the paths which God has designed for him.