Plato’s Crito – A few notes

This is only a short overview of some of the important ideas I got out of the book. This post is intended for those who’ve read the book and would like to see what other people have extracted from it. Overviews of the book can be found elsewhere.

‘But my dear Crito, why should we pay so much attention to what ‘most people’ think? The most sensible people, who have more claim to be considered, will believe that things have been done exactly as they have.’

‘They cannot make a man wise or foolish; they achieve whatever luck would have it.'(Of the multitude)

‘I cannot abandon the arguments which I used to expound in the past simply because this accident has happened to me.’

‘So he ought to regulate his notions and exercises and eating and drinking by the judgement of his instructor, who has expert knowledge, rather than by the opinions of the rest put together.’

‘Do we say that there is no way one must ever willingly commit injustice, or does it depend upon circumstance?’

‘Because, I suppose, there is no difference between injuring people and doing them an injustice?’

‘”You will confirm the opinion of the jurors, so that they’ll seem to have given a correct verdict – for any destroyer of the laws might very well be supposed to have a destructive influence upon young and foolish human beings.”‘

‘”And will no one comment on the fact that an old man of your age, probably with only a short time left to live, should dare to cling so greedily to life, at the price of violating the most stringent of laws?”‘

‘”No, Socrates; be advised by us who raised you – do not think more of your children or of your life or of anything else than you think of what is just.”‘

  1. Socrates stays by his views on life, whatever the circumstances. He will not escape prison unless that is proven to be the just course.
  2. A man ought only to give heed to the advice given by experts. Public opinion sways with every gust of wind, ‘achieving whatever luck would have it.’ If a man only considers the opinion of the multitude, both his body and soul will deteriorate.           ‘I have always been of the opinion that unpopularity earned by doing what is right is not unpopularity at all, but glory.’ – Cicero
  3. According to Socrates one must never commit injustice willingly, even when one has been wronged himself. As Plato noted in the Republic, a moral person could not use his morality to make people less moral.
  4. Reasons why Socrates’ staying in prison is the just course:
  5. 1. Socrates could have left the city at any point he’d like. With him staying in Athens his whole life he’s made an agreement with the Laws to follow them, whatever their course (somewhat tyrannical?). Even during Socrates’ trial he could have proposed his punishment to be exile, and the jurors would surely have allowed it. Escaping prison would mean Socrates breaking his 70 year pact with Athens.
  6. 2. By breaking the laws of Athens Socrates would go against much of his own philosophy to save his own life, proving himself to be a coward.
  7. 3. By escaping prison Socrates would set a bad example to his followers, proving his jurors’ accusations right.
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