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Crito's Arguments to Socrates

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 992 words Published: 18th Sep 2017

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Hale, Aubrieann

In this paper I will be analyzing Crito in the aspects of context, main issues, Socratic reversal, athlete/physician analogy and the consequences. The first two are fairly weak. The third, concerning Socrates’ responsibility to his children is the strongest.

Crito presents many reasons to Socrates for why Socrates should escape. The first two are fairly weak. The third, concerning Socrates’ responsibility to his children is the strongest. Crito’s first argument is that if Socrates does not escape, then Socrates will then in turn be hurting Crito in two ways. One Crito will lose a good friend when Socrates dies and Crito’s reputation will in turn be hurt too. People won’t know that Socrates chose to remain in jail, they will think Crito had the opportunity to get Socrates out but that he did not do so because he was not willing to spend the money. With that Crito will get a reputation for caring more for money than for a friend. This argument only considers the consequences of Socrates’ action for Crito. In Crito’s second argument, he speculates about why Socrates does not want to escape. He says that if Socrates is worried that by escaping he will harm his friends who could get in trouble for trying to helping him escape, then his fears are unfounded. They are willing to risk this or even something worse for him, and it is cheap to pay off both the guards along anyone who might inform on them, so there will not be much risk. While it may be possible to pay people off, there is still the question of whether it is moral. In his third argument Crito mentions Socrates’ responsibility to his children. As their father, it is Socrates’ responsibility to see that his children are brought up well and educated, and he cannot do this if he is dead. Crito appeals to what is important to Socrates. He points out that pursuing goodness is how Socrates wants to lead his life, and that a good man would see that his children are cared for. Crito says that staying in jail is the easy thing to do, but escaping takes courage, and the right thing to do is to be brave for the sake of his children.

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In response to Crito’s arguments Socrates considers first, why the opinion of the majority is not the most important opinion, second, what the consequences of escaping would be for the city of Athens, and third whether escaping is an unjust action such that it would harm Socrates’ soul. Many of Crito’s arguments concern the opinion of the majority what will they think if Crito does not help Socrates escape? What will they think if Socrates is not responsible for his children? Socrates argues that the opinion of an expert is more important than the opinion of the majority. He gives the example of someone in training. An athlete does not pay attention to the advice of the general public, but to their trainer. If they listened to public opinion such as taking steroids, eat whatever they want, train 20 hours a day, they could hurt their body. Socrates extends the analogy if they listen to the majority rather than experts they could harm their souls, the part of a person that is damaged by wrong actions and benefited by right ones.

Socrates’ most fundamental principles that the really important thing is not to live but to live well. Therefore, he considers whether it is morally right to pay off the guards and escape. He begins addressing this issue by considering the consequences for the city. He says that the laws and the city could be destroyed if he escaped. Legal judgments could lose their force if they were not abided by private citizens, and a city without laws would not remain intact for very long. Socrates also thought he would be harming the condition of his soul by escaping. He thought his soul would be harmed because he assumed that by harming the city he would be also harming his soul. Being responsible for harm to others is something that causes harm to one’s soul. He also would have suffered harm to his soul because he broke an agreement. He made a tacit agreement to follow the laws of Athens because he lived under them for seventy years, raised his children under them, and did not try to persuade the city to change them.

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Socrates himself points out that this is an incorrect assumption. He says that Crito overlooks the possibility that his friends would be both willing and capable of bringing his children up. If he were to escape, he does not think it would be in his children’s best interest to raise them there, because there they would be considered foreigners. If he escaped he would ask his friends to take care of his children in Athens, and there is no reason why they should take care of them if he escapes but not if he dies.

Those who were known to have aided him in making his escape would be driven into exile or lose their property and be deprived of citizenship. If he should go to one of the neighboring cities, such as Thebes or Megara, he would be regarded as an enemy and all of their patriotic citizens would look at him poorly. In addition, they would argue that anyone who has broken the laws would also be a corrupter of the young and foolish portion of humanity. If Socrates should go away from well-governed states to Crito’s friends, his reception there would be no better, for the people would ridicule him for preaching sentiments about justice and virtue but then betraying all that he has taught in order to gain a little longer life. By refusing to escape, Socrates can depart from this life in innocence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil, and a victim, not of the laws but of men. On the other hand, if he chooses to break the covenants and agreements he has made, the citizens of the state, including his own friends, will despise him.


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