my crito report
Before one can begin to talk about the Crito dialogue from Plato, one must know a little about Socrates if you fully want to understand it in the philosophical sense. Socrates was one of the greatest philosophers ever to roam the earth. The most amazing thing about Socrates is the fact that he never wrote anything down. I know what you are probably thinking to yourself, how do we know about Socrates when he never wrote anything down? The only reason we know about Socrates is from another great Philosopher by the name of Plato. It is because of the platonic dialogues that we learn about the greatness of Socrates.
Before I can begin to talk about the Crito dialogue, you have to know about the apology which in Greek means defense and not to say sorry. In Athens where Socrates lives, is charged with impiety and corruption of the young. In the apology Socrates defends himself and is found guilty, and the sentence is death. Here I am going to explain about Crito who is a good friend to Socrates and comes to visit him trying to persuade him to escape jail.
Crito comes one morning to visit Socrates in jail. It is early dawn, but he doesn’t bother waking Socrates from his slumber when he sees that he is sleeping. When Socrates wakes up to my understanding and is surprised to see Crito there, one of the first things that Socrates asks Crito was how long he has been there. Socrates is surprised when Crito says that he has been sitting there watching him sleep for some time and asks Crito why he didn’t wake him up.
Crito explains he didn’t want to wake him because he was surprised to see him sleeping so peacefully. He didn’t want to wake him since his time on this earth is so short and felt that Socrates sleep shouldn’t be disrupted. He considered the way he lived happily and how he bore the present misfortune so easily. By this he means Socrates doesn’t act like a man who has been condemned to death. Also the obvious thing is if you read the apology you know that Socrates is a man who is wrongfully accused.
Socrates he doesn’t resent it because he is in his seventies and knows if he doesn’t die in jail that at his age he would die soon anyway. However, he is standing up for what he believes in and in my eyes this shows how great a man he was. Crito comes back to say “other men of your age are caught in such misfortune, but their age doesn’t prevent them from resenting their fate”(Crito, pg104 43c). We assume the reason Socrates isn’t afraid of his fate is only, because in the apology he makes a claim where he will philosophize forever.
Socrates will be put to death when the boat from Delos comes to Athens. Crito explains the boat hasn’t arrived yet, but fears it will arrive sometime during the day and if that is the case then Socrates will die the next day. However, Socrates is certain the boat will not arrive tomorrow. He knows this because of a dream or vision that he had, in which a woman came to him and told him he would die the day after the boat arrived.
Crito explains to Socrates he should pay attention to what the majority thinks, because they might inflict pretty well an evil of one who is slandered. Socrates comes up with something that made me think and would probably make you think. He mentioned if people could inflict the greatest evils, they could also create the greatest good. However, the people of Athens have created the greatest evil by wrongfully accusing and condemning an innocent man.
Crito makes an interesting point that if Socrates were to escape, would his punishment be any worse than it is at the present time. He is already waiting to be put to death, so if he were to escape, what would be worse than death? Crito believes what Socrates is doing isn’t right, to give up his life when he could save it. He also thinks he is betraying his sons by leaving his sons, when Socrates could raise them and educate them with his philosophical knowledge. Even though if you ask Socrates he will tell you that he knows nothing.
Crito also feels ashamed on Socrates behalf and on the behalf of his friends. He is ashamed of the fact that the trial was even brought to court when it shouldn’t have and Socrates should act now, before it is to late. The reason that he has come to visit Socrates is to try and persuade him that to escape is the best possible solution.
Socrates answers this with his dialectic method of examining the question to seek the truth of it. In a way you can say Socrates used logic to seek the truth of the question through reasoning, however it was Aristotle that made logic. It doesn’t mean that Socrates didn’t use it, but maybe he used a form of it. The amazing thing was he could tell if a question was wrong even though he didn’t know the correct answer. He wants to examine the questions to Crito to see if him escaping would be the best thing or would he be breaking the law.
Socrates asks a question if one should be blamed for other men opinion and if one should prove what one person does and not what everyone does, should one obey the opinion of one person and not the majority. If one should disobey, and no one has knowledge, but one person, that person will suffer.
This is important, because this is the same thing Socrates was tried for. He would go around and question people seeing if he could learn anything from them, and he would then once they answered him, know that they are wrong. Most people don’t like being told that they are wrong, which is what gave him a bad reputation. This is also what caused him to be tried and put to death. This is the claim that he was saying, that if one man acts out in a way and no one has knowledge of what he is doing, then the majority will think what he is doing is wrong, when he is actually right, but they just don’t know it.
The Question Socrates asked Crito, and he agreed. Especially the part about life being worth living if your body is damaged. However, Socrates says “you were wrong that we should care about the opinion of the majority, they can however put you to death (Crito, pg 106) Just to make this known this wasn’t a statement, that this was a question that he asked Crito, but I thought I ought to put it in because it gave a special feeling to me when I first read this.
Next Socrates examines the fact if it should be right to escape if the Athenian people haven’t rightly acquitted him. If the idea seems bad then they won’t escape, but if it is good then they will. The first question that Socrates asks is if it is right that they gave money to people who will help them escape.
He explores how at his age they failed to say at some time in their discussions that they were no different from children, and it is wrong doing harm to the wrongdoer. What he means by this is it is harmful to the wrongdoer’s body and he not only pays by hurting himself, but he will hurt the ones that he loves. He asks Crito if one should never do any wrong, and Crito agrees with him.
Socrates also talks about if someone is harmed by someone, should on return the harm, sort of like how the bible says an eye for an eye. Also if someone finds out that something is right, should they fulfill it or act on it. Crito believes that one should fulfill it and agrees about the fact that one ought to be able to punish someone if you are harmed by that person.
If they should leave jail without the people of Athens permission, would they be injuring themselves or their country? Crito has no answer for this, which says you should at least be thinking this would be the wrong choice for Socrates to do. One thing that comes to mind with this is what Plato says, “you can believe falsely, but you can’t know falsely (Plato, pg119).
The question is then asked would they destroy the city by acting unjustly, or would they be doing the right thing because the city of Athens has wronged him. Crito, per say, has a little light bulb go off and realizes that the fact that Socrates has been wronged is the answer that they have been looking for. Socrates is still leery that they found the right question. He responds with didn’t the city hold his mother and father who gave birth to him, and should he retaliate against his country from which he had been taught in. In war and courts people should obey the verdict no matter if the person convicted is innocent or not.
He states that in fact they came to an agreement with them to obey the teachings, and the one who breaks that agreement should be considered wrong. Also, if he wanted to escape the city, he could have asked for exile. However, he didn’t pick a punishment since he didn’t do anything wrong. Being the type of man that Socrates is he wouldn’t beg to be free either, and because he wouldn’t beg is the reason that they found him guilty.
What Socrates states now is the fact that would it be the right thing to do to betray his country and run away, even though he chose death in preference to exile. Socrates claims that we must speak the truth that you agreed to not in your words, but by your actions. He then asks Crito if we must agree or not that we should live as citizens and obey every law that they put forth. Crito agrees saying that we must agree and abide by all the laws.
Surely if Socrates were to break out of jail, he would be breaking the Athenian laws by this action. It goes back to him not choosing a punishment, when he very well could have chosen to be exiled from the city state of Athens. What is also stated is the fact that a city can’t survive without laws. Not only will Socrates become a fool of Athens, but he would also put his friends and his family at risk of being exiled as well. If he were to go into a neighboring town that is well governed, it would be known of his escape and they would be looking for him. This means Socrates would now be a nomad and only be able to travel to less governed cities, and that wouldn’t be the life he would like to live. In my view Socrates wouldn’t like that because he loved philosophizing, and in this nomad type of life he wouldn’t be able to do what he was set out to do on this earth.
If Socrates leaves Athens shamefully, then he would have lead a shameful life. Socrates values life than that any man ever known. He values the uncertainty that you get in philosophy because life is uncertain, and the Athenian men who didn’t see that thought he was a threat. He addresses Crito that these are the words of the Athenian men that he hears from the music they play and with him being in jail he has no choice but not to listen to it. After Socrates is done talking, Crito says that there is nothing to say, showing that if Socrates were to escape he would be breaking the law.
The reason I think it is important for you to read this paper, is to broaden your mind to a whole new world call philosophy. Once you start reading philosophy you will be hooked. The best thing to read is the Platonic dialogues. Socrates is the greatest philosopher and without Plato we wouldn’t know anything about this great man. All I can say to get a broader view on what I have told you in this paper, is buy the republic and read the early platonic dialogues in their entirety. I will warn you that once you find this wonderful world you will never look at anything else the same. Reading philosophy will help you address the uncertainty of many questions. However, you will not find the answers, but you will be able to see them and understand them in a much broader way.
the unexamined life is not worth living -Socrates