Examining Socrates in Crito

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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 should keep to that agreement and accept its consequences. However, the examination in Crito was incompletely and its logic flawed; in making this decision, Socrates has forsaken his life for his ideal of justice. The examination was done in the elenchus, which has the structure that Socrates will start with an assumption and find contradictions to eliminate possible answers; the assumption here is that there are good reasons why Socrates should escape from prison. Socrates starts his argument by first eliminating the public opinion as a reason why he should escape. Socrates observes that concerning a person’s health, only a doctor’s opinion would matter instead of the public opinion; he then draws a parallel of that analogy to justice, that “We should not give so much thought to what the majority of people will say about us, but think instead of what the person who understands just and unjust things will say...” (Crito 48b) While the public opinion would certainly urge Socrates to preserve his life, Socrates discredits it as a reason for his escape. Next Socrates assumes that since only a good life is worth living, and that living a good life is the same as living a just life (Crito 48b), Socrates should escape for his life only if...
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