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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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