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Socrates’ Conclusion at the End of Plato’s “Crito”, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 562

Research Paper

The scene depicted in Plato’s dialogue “Crito” presents Socrates as he faces the challenge of deciding his own fate. While his punishment has been decided as death, the philosopher awakens to find the opportunity for escape literally at his bedside. The dialogue offers several arguments for making the decision to escape (Crito’s perspective), as well as many supporting the choice to stay and face execution (Socrates’ perspective). This exchange, particularly Socrates’ decision to stay, would prove to be a pivotal event in the development of the concepts that support social contract theory (Levine, 2009), though the nature of the connection is still challenged (Kahn, 2011).

Crito offers to free Socrates using power and money. The philosopher allows his friend to state his case, and the wealthy rescuer proceeds to list a multitude of reasons for Socrates to take advantage of the opportunity. He first cites concerns about the negative perception that will come to Crito and his friends if Socrates is indeed killed. Many people believe that this situation is unjust, and expect the influential supporters of Socrates to save him. Crito tells Socrates that he would not face a significant penalty for the escape due to his ability to buy the silence of potential informants, and describes exile as an attractive venture to friendly lands, should the harshest punishments be imposed. Should Socrates be concerned with depleting the resources of his friend, Crito tells him that foreigners have arrived with the means to finance the activity. He offers more arguments by characterizing death as the easy choice, and therefore the cowardly decision, that will essentially empower his enemies. It is also stated that Socrates has a duty to his “children” (literal and possibly figurative as well) that requires him to continue to live if it is under his control.

Socrates offers counter arguments for each of Crito’s points, as well as several overarching principles that guide his judgements. The philosopher says that he does not fear death, and is not concerned about the perspectives of others regarding his decision. Behaving well is more important to Socrates than being seen in a positive light, and he calls for Crito to examine his own assumptions about what constitutes the correct actions in this situation. While he agrees that the verdict is unjust, Socrates believes that the act of escaping is also unjust. Examining the laws applying to the conviction clearly places an escapee in the criminal position, as it is against the law to disobey judgements even if one believes them to be incorrect.

Socrates is convinced that it is his responsibility to act in accordance with the principles he agreed to follow in exchange for the benefits associated with citizenship. This notion is the basic form of social contract that would inspire future theories. I agree with this perspective, and would have likely made the same decision as Socrates should I be as loyal to the concept of the social contract as the philosopher. However, I believe it would be unlikely to see it from the same perspective as this brilliant mind, and the survival instinct would probably drive me to avoid death, especially given the low risk associated with this particular opportunity to escape.

 

References

Kahn, C. H. (2011). Problems in the Argument of Plato’s Crito. Apeiron, 22(4), 29-44.

Levine, E. L. (2009). Does the Social Contract Justify Felony Disenfranchisement. Wash. U. Jurisprudence Rev., 1, 193.

 

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