Professor Richard Fletcher
March 4, 2013
History of Ancient Philosophy Paper 2
Recall that at Apology 37d, “It would be a fine life for me, indeed, a man of my age, to go into exile and spend his life exchanging one city for another, because he’s always being expelled (C. D. C. Reeve, P-Apology 37d)” Admittedly, Socrates could probably have avoided death by recommending exile if he wanted to, but he chose not to do so. Then, what exactly, was in his mind? After having been sentenced to death, Socrates was sleeping in his prison cell awaiting his execution. Early in the morning, Crito visits Socrates and attempts to persuade him to escape the city before the execution. If we look into their dialogues, Socrates suggests examining whether he should do what Crito advises or not, defining himself as “a person who listens to nothing within him but the argument that on rational reflection seems best to him” (C. D. C. Reeve, P-Crito 46b). Here, Socrates seems to claim that he does not know anything, so will choose to do what appears to be the best to him through examining. Socrates uses this unique method of examining throughout the books of Apology, Crito and Republic by continuously questioning to figure out what seems the best. Then, the question is, what does he mean by “best” in the statement? I argue that it is neither his life nor his family, but what is just or justice. It seems to me that Socrates’ statement at Crito 46b reflects his personal philosophy that one should examine his action whether it is just or unjust before performing it. According to Socrates, one should perform the action that is just and should not perform if it is an unjust action after examining. A great example demonstrating this point can be found in Apology, where Socrates states “You’re not thinking straight, sir, if you think that a man who’s any use at all should give any opposing weight to the risk of living or dying, instead of looking to this...