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 death.
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 agreements?
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.

Category: Philosophy