January 14, 2013
Response Essay: Crito
In Plato’s Crito, Socrates and one of his followers, Crito, discuss the opinion of the “majority” and its effects on Socrates’ current situation. Crito first assumes that Socrates should care about the majority opinion, especially in his current case because “the majority can do not just minor harms but the very worst things to someone who’s been slandered in front of them” (44d). Socrates responds and dismisses the possibility of the majority having an unlimited capacity for doing harm. He explains by asserting, “they cannot make a man either wise or foolish, but they can inflict things haphazardly” (47). The point Socrates portrays to Crito is that the “majority” acts without knowledge and merely follow their own feelings. The accidental or rather unconscious character of these personal feelings is what causes the majority to act haphazardly. The real harm being done within “the majority” is the act of being foolish rather than the real good of being wise. Socrates expresses, however, that the majority is unable to do either. “I only wish, Crito, that the majority could do the very worst things, then they might also be able to do the very best ones- and everything would be fine” (44d). He further explains that the truth is, the majority cannot do either of these because they do not have the capability of making someone either wise or unwise. The effects, then, that the majority produces “are really the result of chance” (44d). The good man cannot be harmed by the bad precisely because his goodness consists in his not allowing others to make him foolish. Socrates, addressing Crito’s argument to help Socrates escape from jail, tells Crito that his enthusiasm is appreciated however it is too emotional for figuring out what is right and wrong. He explains that decisions must be made rationally, and that just because circumstances may change, the values that he has always...