So, I was thinking about Crito today in class (as I should have been) and when we started to talk about Civil Disobedience and Socrates, my main point that I kept in my little head was that Socrates didn’t have a problem with the Laws. Does anyone doubt that? I mean, he said himself that he would have been expected to move (or change them) if he didn’t like them. It was the men. If Socrates had really been “corrupting the youth” and was the great man of morality and integrity that we know him to be, there is obviously some discrepancy there with who Socrates is and who we think he is or the laws themselves. We know Socrates was not “corrupting the youth” as he was accused because of the various reasons he gave us in Apology, but, rather, the accusation by Meletus and Anytus was unjust. Nothing wrong with Socrates, nothing wrong with the laws, just the men executing them. Socrates justifies this with the fact that the souls of those men will be judged in Hades, also the reason he shouldn’t wrong a wrong, because he will also be judged in Hades which he perfectly and reasonably justified in Crito. So essentially, the whole point is that Socrates was such an incredible genius. So, nothing new.

6 Responses to “CRITO”

  1. nmik says:

    So, what is the right action, the right response to “just” laws implemented by “unjust” men or women–when the polis is led by the unjust and they subvert the laws of the polis to their own ends?

  2. hgmclean says:

    Stand up to them like Socrates did and maybe they’ll listen eventually. I’m not sure the likelihood of that happening. I mean, if they’re completely unjust in their rulings and did it all the time, there would be reformation, or rebellion, otherwise how would the polis survive? Perhaps someone else could answer this better, but I’ll think on it.

  3. eegbert says:

    I’m thinking that he believed that this world wasn’t as important as the afterlife, and like we discussed in class, maintaining your soul or what have you is more important than what happens to you on earth. That being said, maybe it doesn’t matter so much if people are unjust to you on earth. Just the fact that he challenged them and then accepted his sentence is enough, he isn’t expected to overthrow the evil lawmakers. They’ll be punished anyway by divine retribution. Basically he’s leaving it to the gods to make things right, and the gods will keep the polis alive. He can’t do it himself without committing unjust deeds and harming his soul.

  4. Nik.W. says:

    Socrates followed the laws because he thought they were just. That doesn’t mean that the men who carry them out are. The polis survived and their was little reformation probably because those men didn’t always use their power to their own ends all the time. Socrates was someone influential who could irritate people and had no problem telling people how he saw things. This caused fear because since he questioned so many things why wouldn’t he eventually question the polis. So men of power used that power to basically nip Socrates’s questions in the bud before it could get out of hand. They did not know until later that he believed in the laws and the function of the polis. Just because someone unjust implements the laws does not mean those laws suddenly become wrong. They are still just laws and hopefully they will eventually be used for their intended purpose of protecting the polis.

  5. Thebigenchilada says:

    Well, if Plato didn’t believe in natural rights, maybe he thought that laws, even if they were just, must be followed anyway. It states that if someone does something wrong to you, you cannot do something wrong back. To Socrates, he must follow the law or else he becomes injust…not following an unjust law would be like spitting on a man because the man tripped him.

    I’m not sure if this is right…just thinking it out.

  6. gormanda says:

    See I don’t think Socrates necessarily believed that the laws that he supposedly broke such as preaching against the gods, etc. were of themselves particularly ‘just’ laws. However, Socrates so strongly believed in the establishment of law itself that he was determined to stand by it as a matter of principle and of respect for the system. It was a system which brought order and morality to the polis.

    In both the Apology and the Crito, Socrates doesn’t argue the structure of the current laws because the laws are a product of the people in the polis at the time. Instead he speaks out against the culture that is presently enforcing the laws, and the manner in which they are abusing their power.