The Crito


The purpose of "Crito" seems intended to exhibit the character of Socrates in one light only, not as the philosopher, fulfilling a divine mission and trusting in the will of Heaven, but simply as the good citizen, who, having been unjustly condemned is willing to give up his life in obedience to the laws of the State. The main argument that seems to entail the discussion between Crito and Socrates is the opinion of the majority on Socrates? fate.
In the "Crito" Socrates states, "Why should we care so much for what the majority think?" (Plato 45) Socrates believes that we should not care what the majority thinks because those who are reasonable people will understand. However, Crito?s counter-argument to this is that the majority can cause great harm; therefore we should care what they think. Socrates further goes on to say the majority acts haphazardly; therefore, they cannot do great good or great harm (Plato 45). Crito says that "the opinion of the many" would judge us wrong if we didn't help you (and anyone in your position would agree that you ought to escape). Socrates notes that some opinion is right and some opinion is wrong. It is not simply a matter of mere opinion, but of correct opinion. The authority in this case is the actual truth of the matter. Socrates introduces a distinction between true opinion and false opinion. And the path to the latter is through argument and reason. By appealing to the opinion of "the many," Crito seems to be committing the Ad Populum Fallacy (i.e., something is right, true, etc., because the majority of the population says it is). Socrates seems to pose an open argument: the opinion of the many says that escaping from jail is right ? but is it right? Socrates seems to believe that although the majority believes it is right for him to escape from jail he is going against what he believes to be true. Socrates believes that he has a tacit consent with the state by living in Athens for 70 years he has accepted their laws. Furthermore disagrees with retaliation and rejects Crito?s suggestion to flee to Thessaly he will be welcomed there and free to speak. Socrates seems to have adhered to the belief that if he was born and raised in this state and had children here he must have agreed with the ways in which the state operates; therefore, he cannot suddenly decide to flee and abandon the very state which nurtured and dictated his life for the past 70 years. Crito refutes claiming that [his] decision is not right, giving up [his] life when he could save it, and to hasten [his] fate as his enemies would hasten it and indeed have hastened it in their wish to destroy [him] (Plato 46).
In addition to Socrates? position on the devotion and faith he has given to the state of Athens Socrates? also has a position regarding the role of the majority in his decision not to escape. Socrates believes that "fate has come about me?I shall not agree with you, not even if the power of the majority were to frighten us with more bogeys, as if we were children, with threats of incarcerations and executions and confiscation of property?.Crito, whether this argument will appear any different in any way different to me in my present circumstances, or whether it remains the same, whether we are to abandon it or believe it" (Plato 46-47). In this case Socrates is saying that regardless of what the situation may be he is standing forthright in his decision to face his death. Socrates is trying to explain to Crito that even if he is trying to bully him into exile it will not work. Crito says that Socrates is making a cowardly move by facing death, whereas Socrates believes that he is the one who will end up the stronger man in the end. I think the point Socrates is trying to get across is that regardless of how the current situation is phrased, or even if you were to ignore the present situation completely?it all comes down the fact that this own fate was already decided for him. Socrates further explicates his point when he compares moral development to physical development. When one is trying to