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Socrates: the Apology and Crito Essay

Socrates believed that his purpose, as a moral individual, was to achieve true wisdom of virtue and justice. With this considered, one may ask, “Then why did he accept punishment for crimes he didn’t commit?” Socrates didn’t care for fate, because he was only concerned for whether or not he and others were doing the right thing. This belief is shown to be evident when Socrates says, “You are sadly mistaken, fellow, if you suppose that a man with even a grain of self-respect should reckon up the risks of living or dying, rather than simply consider, whenever he does something, whether his actions are just or unjust, the deeds of a good man or a bad one.” (Defence of Socrates, 28a).

Throughout the Apology, Socrates speaks out against his detractors; the accusations of corrupting the youth, being an atheist, and introducing new gods. He speaks out not with the purpose of being free from blame though, but to reveal the ignorance of his prosecutors. Indeed, he regarded the charges made against him as totally unjustified. He claimed to intentions of goodness by improving his moral outlook as well as those of others; this was his true purpose, for “an unexamined life is no life for a human being to live…” (Defence of Socrates, 38a). He suggests that even if he were to be released from prison with the stipulation of not teaching his philosophy, he would refuse.

Doubtlessly, Socrates believed that fear of death should never be a reason for one to change one’s beliefs. These beliefs are spoken about largely in Crito; that he cannot break a just contract between himself and the law nor do any harm to any entity. Socrates was willful to abide by Athenian law and the legal judgments made according to them even if they were incorrect.

He believed that he gave his obedience in exchange for the life that those laws provided him: “In view of your birth, upbringing, and education, can you deny, first, that you belong to us as our offspring and slave, as your forebears also did? And if so, do you imagine that you are on equal terms with us in regard to what is just, and what whatever treatment we may accord to you?” (Crito, 50e). He uses his respect for laws in this manner as an allegory for the same respect he’d show towards one’s father or mother. He accepted citizenry under those laws and in doing so, chose not to do any harm, for it was the state that he saw to deserve respect for his upbringing.

By escaping prison, he claimed that he would be harming the Laws, himself, and his friends for disregarding the ethical standards demand by the many. He also speaks of how it would appear indecent if he were to escape in such an shameful manner where he’d have nowhere else to go in the end and with little time left to live; his escape would be a story to be ridiculed. In the end, Crito could not reply with anything to convince Socrates otherwise.


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