Evaluating Socrates

Topics: Plato, Aristotle, Rhetoric Pages: 6 (2668 words) Published: January 29, 2014

Owing the Government Our Obedience: Socrates’ defense for Not Doing Injustice When Injustice is Done to You In the dialogue of “Crito” by Plato, a person by the name of Crito has come to try and persuade Socrates to escape from jail as he feels he is being wrongfully accused. Socrates basically asks Crito to plead his case and if he can come up with enough good reasons then Socrates will escape, if not he will stay. As Crito begins attempting to persuade him, Socrates ends up stating two main premises that are reasons why he should not escape. His first main premise is that Socrates believes that he owes the government his obedience. The second main premise is that he believes that if he escapes there will be too many negative effects on him, his friends and his family. To explain his main premises further, Socrates uses logos, a little bit of pathos and ethos. The logos of his argument is the strongest of the three. Socrates presents lots of evidence proving his two main premises. The pathos in this dialogue is hard to notice at first but becomes clear towards the end of the dialogue when Crito seems robot like, just agreeing with everything Socrates is saying. The ethos part of the dialogue really establishes Socrates’ credibility as Crito is unable to change his mind and Socrates shows a lot of character with his reasons and explanations. However, some of the things Socrates says don’t have any relevance at all to his main claims. The first reason Socrates gives for not escaping jail is that he owes the government his obedience. He starts this argument using scenarios toward Crito about things that the government will say to him if he tries to do as Crito wishes. Socrates then goes on to say that they will question his obedience to the government by saying things like “In the first place did we not bring you into existence?” in other words he is saying why would he try and destroy them, or go against them and the state when they are the reason he was brought into this world and the reason why he has the education, knowledge and basically everything that he does. He also says “And because we think right to destroy you, do you think that you have any right to destroy us in return..” in other words Socrates’s point here is do two wrongs make a right? He also mentions that he has only once ever left his city as he says that one of their responses will be “there is clear proof Socrates that we and the city were not displeasing to you.” He describes himself as of all the Athenians “to be the cities constant resident “ as he has never left the city unless it was for military service. Another explanation he gives it that he never traveled anywhere else as others did, he never took an interest in getting to know other states and laws and above all he had his children there which clearly in his opinion shows that that’s “proof of his satisfaction” of the state. Then Socrates poses the question, if they’re right in saying “you agreed to be governed according to us in deed” stating how shall he answer that? He basically goes on saying that he has had 70 years to think about the laws and if he thought they were unfair or unjust then he could have just left Athens and went somewhere else, that why now is it that all of a sudden he wants to leave? He believes that he will be making himself “look ridiculous” if he escapes. Socrates is basically not greedy for more life because he knows that the short res he has left isn’t worth more than all he has had in the years before. Escaping in his eyes would be like giving up everything he worked for.

The second reason Socrates gives for not escaping jail is that if he escapes there will be too many negative effects on him, his friends, and his family. He says that if he proceeds as Crito is asking him to, that his friends will be “driven into exile, deprived of citizenship, or lose their property..” In other words if Socrates proceeds his actions it will not only effect his life,...
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