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Untitled Essay, Research Paper

Analysis of Crito

The question is raised within the dialogue between Socrates and Crito

concerning civil disobedience. Crito has the desire, the means, and many compelling

reasons with which he tries to convince the condemned to acquiesce in the plan to avoid

his imminent death. Though Crito’s temptation is imposing, it is in accord with

reason and fidelity that Socrates chooses to fulfill his obligation to the state, even to


Before addressing Crito’s claims which exhort Socrates to leave

the state and avoid immanent death, the condemned lays a solid foundation upon which he

asserts his obligation to abide by the laws. The foundation is composed of public opinion,

doing wrong, and fulfillment of one’s obligations. Addressing public opinion,

Socrates boldly asserts that it is more important to follow the advice of the wise and

live well than to abide by the indiscriminate and capricious public opinion and live

poorly. Even when it is the public who may put one to death, their favor need not be

sought, for it is better to live well than to submit to their opinion and live poorly.

Next, wrongful doing is dispatched of. They both consent to the idea that, under no

circumstances, may one do a wrong, even in retaliation, nor may one do an injury; doing

the latter is the same as wrong doing. The last foundation to be questioned is the

fulfillment of one’s obligations. Both of the philosophers affirm that, provided that

the conditions one consents to are legitimate, one is compelled to fulfill those

covenants. These each are founded upon right reasoning and do provide a justifiable

foundation to discredit any design of dissent.

At line fifty, Socrates executes these foundations to destroy and make

untenable the petition that he may rightfully dissent:

Then consider the logical consequence. If we

leave this place without first persuading the state to let us go,

are we or are we not doing an injury, and doing it in a quarter

where it is least justifiable? Are we or are we not abiding by our just


To criticize or reproach Socrates’ decision to accept his

punishment is unjustifiable in most of the arguments. The only point of disagreement with

Socrates’ logic concerns his assertion, “expressed” in his dialogue with

the laws, that the state is to be more respected than one’s parents. I contend that

one would never willingly oblige himself to a totalitarian state in which the laws and the

magistrates are to be regarded more highly than one’s own family. One would only

contract with a government whose power insures the public good and whose establishment

seeks the to extend to its citizens utilitarian needs.

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