Socrates Essay

1114 words - 4 pages

In Crito, Plato recounts the last days of Socrates, immediately before his execution was to take place in Athens. In the dialogue, Socrates’ pupil, Crito, proposes that Socrates escape from prison. Socrates considers this proposal, trying to decide whether escaping would be “just” and “morally justified.” Eventually, Socrates concludes that the act is considered “unjust” and “morally unjustified.” Socrates then decides to accept his fate and proceeded with his execution.
Socrates was a man who was in pursuit of the truth (Durant). In his refusal to accept exile from Athens or a commitment of silence as a penalty, he chooses death and is thrown into prison. While Socrates is awaiting his execution, many of his friends, including Crito, arrive with a foolproof plan for his escape from Athens to live in exile voluntarily. Socrates calmly debates with each friend over the moral value and justification of such an act. “...people who do not know you and me will believe that I might have saved you if I had been willing to give money, but that I did not care.” -Crito (Wolff 37). Crito believed that by helping Socrates to escape, he could go on to fulfill his personal obligations. Also, if Socrates does not follow the plan, many people would assume that his friends did not care about him enough to help him escape or that his friends are not willing to give their time or money in order to help him. Therefore, Crito goes on to argue that Socrates ought to escape from the prison. After listening to Crito’s arguments, Socrates dismisses them as irrelevant to a decision about what action is truly right. “Now you, Crito, are not going to die to-morrow-...-and therefore you are disinterested and not liable to be deceived by the circumstances in which you are placed.” -Socrates (Wolff 40). In the arguments that Socrates makes, he emphasizes that what other people think does not matter. The only opinions that should matter are the ones of the individuals that truly know. “The truth alone deserves to be the basis for decisions about human action, so the only proper approach is to engage in the sort of careful moral reasoning by means of which one may hope to reveal it” (Wolff 43). According to Socrates, the only opinion that he is willing to consider would be that of the state. “...if you go forth, returning evil for evil, and injury for injury,...we shall be angry with you while you live, and our brethren, the laws in the world below, will receive you as an enemy; for they will know you have done your best to destroy us.” -Socrates (Wolff 45).
Socrates’ argument moves from one of a general moral decision to the morality of his specific case. He basically says: -One ought never to do wrong, -But it is always wrong to disobey the state, -Therefore, one ought never to disobey the state (Durant) Since avoiding the sentence handed down by the jury would be disobeying the state, Socrates decides not to escape. Socrates chose to honor his commitment to truth and...

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