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Analysis of Socrates' Crito

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  1. The importance and essentiality of obedience to the laws of the state
  2. The argument that two wrong don't make a right
  3. Crito condemns Socrates
  4. How Plato presents Socrates

The Crito strikes us as an oddly shocking story simply because Socrates, who was once portrayed as a loyalist to the gods, now argues the importance and essentiality of obedience to the laws of the state. It is natural to find The Crito surprising because Plato had described Socrates in The Apology as being a wise man, superior to all others, and now in his final days of life he suddenly stresses his own equivalence to all other citizens around him. It seems rather unlikely that Socrates would believingly adopt such a contradictory philosophy within only a matter of days, and thus it is probable that Plato is suggesting that we should not take Socrates' words at face value. Socrates presents to his friend, Crito, an array of arguments that emphasize the importance of obedience to the laws, yet Socrates' life actions do not support his contentions and he himself does not believe that the law is entirely just. By presenting these arguments, Socrates is merely trying to reassure both himself and Crito that his failure in persuading the law is still just and the ideal time for his death has come, despite his lack of firm belief in all of the contentions he presents.

[...] There are then only two choices: must obey the commands of one's city and country, or persuade it as to the nature of justice. It is impious to bring violence to bear against your mother or father; it is much more so to use it against your country? (51). Socrates seems to view this issue in a rather black and white manner, assuming that anyone can and will try to persuade the law when they see it to be unfit. [...]

[...] Towards the end of their conversation, Socrates asks himself through a self created pseudo-authority, ?will there be no one to say that you, likely to live but a short time more, were so greedy for life that you transgressed the most important (54). Although Socrates does not harp on this point, or even present it himself as an argument for obedience to the laws, it does seem to have an impact on the way he views his current situation. Perhaps if he were a younger man with more hope for a fruitful future he would not defend the arguments he does present quite so resolutely. [...]

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