Socrates' Moral Decision to Not Escape

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  • Topic: Plato, Law, Morality
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Socrates' Moral Decision To Not Escape

Was Socrates wise to stay in Athens to die? Examine firstly the context of the word wise , Socrates wasn't wise in the sense of preserving his own life as he stayed to die. He was encouraged and given the chance to escape by his friend Crito, but Socrates did not want to escape . Why?

Socrates was a wise man. He believed in absolutes, and pursued the knowledge of man's source of goodness and virtue. He believed that the repayment of evil with evil was wrong. In short, Socrates was a very moral person. He stayed in Athens because he said that he had lived by the laws of the country for all his life. He had enjoyed the privileges of a civilized society, and that he had been treated as any other citizen would have come to expect. Now that the laws didn't suit him, was it fit for him to ignore them? Crito, in vain, tries to dissuade him.

Socrates compares the laws of the state to a father/mentor figure: The state says that all of the laws and statutes have protected him and raised him. His parents were married by the law, and the same saw to it that he was educated. Now the state says "Is it alright for you, who thinks so much of virtue, to destroy us?" Socrates is wise to see that he would be contradicting not only himself, but he would betray the examples he was trying to set to his followers.

The impact of Socrate's teachings on the world were greatly increased by his decision. Socrates had no education, therefore none of his own teachings were ever written. His followers have carried on his messages and lessons into later times. Would Socrate's teachings really have been carried on at all if he hadn't followed through?

The impact of his teachings would have been greatly lessened had he escaped. All the lessons of "virtue" and "courage" would have been taught by a hypocritical man. Socrates was brave enough to face that sentence without fear or cowardice; and he is remembered as one who...
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