Analyzing Socrates as a Good Citizen in the Book, Crito

Pages: 4 (1428 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The purpose of "Crito" seems intended to exhibit the character of Socrates in one light only, not as the philosopher, fulfilling a divine mission and trusting in the will of Heaven, but simply as the good citizen, who, having been unjustly condemned is willing to give up his life in obedience to the laws of the State. The main argument that seems to entail the discussion between Crito and Socrates is the opinion of the majority on Socrates' fate.

In the "Crito" Socrates states, "Why should we care so much for what the majority think?" (Plato 45) Socrates believes that we should not care what the majority thinks because those who are reasonable people will understand. However, Crito's counter-argument to this is that the majority can cause great harm; therefore we should care what they think. Socrates further goes on to say the majority acts haphazardly; therefore, they cannot do great good or great harm (Plato 45). Crito says that "the opinion of the many" would judge us wrong if we didn't help you (and anyone in your position would agree that you ought to escape). Socrates notes that some opinion is right and some opinion is wrong. It is not simply a matter of mere opinion, but of correct opinion. The authority in this case is the actual truth of the matter. Socrates introduces a distinction between true opinion and false opinion. And the path to the latter is through argument and reason. By appealing to the opinion of "the many," Crito seems to be committing the Ad Populum Fallacy (i.e., something is right, true, etc., because the majority of the population says it is). Socrates seems to pose an open argument: the opinion of the many says that escaping from jail is right – but is it right? Socrates seems to believe that although the majority believes it is right for him to escape from jail he is going against what he believes to be true. Socrates believes that he has a tacit consent with the state by living in Athens...
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