Examining Socrates in Crito

1340 words 6 pages
Philosophy 25A, Essay 1
Yue Lu, 23903154, Oct 1st
Examining Socrates in Crito
In the Dialogue Crito, Socrates employs his Elenchus to examine the notion of justice and one’s obligation to justice. In the setting of the dialogue, Socrates has been condemned to die, and Crito comes with both the hopes and the means for Socrates to escape from prison. When Socrates insists that they should examine whether he should escape or not, the central question turns into whether if it is unjust to disobey laws. Socrates’ ultimate answer is that it is unjust; he makes his argument by first showing that it’s wrong to revenge injustice, then arguing that he has made an agreement with the city’s law for its benefits, and finally reasoning that he
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It is just for one to keep the agreement he has made, therefore Socrates should keep the agreement made with Athens; and thus he should obey the state and its laws (Crito 53c). Furthermore, Socrates has been given the chance to convince Athens not sentence him to death, and he even could’ve proposed to be exiled that would have the same consequences as if he escapes now; if Socrates had the chance to accomplish thise with legal means when he did not, he would not be justified to do so now illegally (Crito 52c). Following this reasoning, Socrates concludes that he should not escape from prison and his eventual execution.
Although Socrates’ commitment to his ideals is admirable, his reasoning is critically flawed. Socrates lacks the definition of justice throughout the discussion of justice. Socrates certainly thinks of justice as something intrinsic and absolute, instead of simply laws imposed by the state; this is evident when he refused to arrest Leon of Salamis by the order of the 30 tyrants (which is an act of disobedience) on the grounds of justice (Apology 32c). Clearly he believes that justice is higher than rulings of sovereignty. But Socrates never made clear what is this virtue that makes justice just; instead, he only vaguely calls some actions just, such as when one keeps an agreement, or behaves well towards one’s parents. It is because of this lack

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