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Mariah Betz


Dr. Matos

Essay 3 Final Draft

Insert fancy title here

Over the past decades, America has been changing drastically. How has this been

happening? The Democratic government may eventually allow these changes to happen,

but it rarely starts there. In Plato’s Crito, Socrates insists that he should not leave the prison.

He remains unaffected with Crito’s worry of people’s judgements. Socrates thinks that he is

being morally good by continuing to abide by Athens’ laws, even if they’re unjust. Lastly, he

is afraid of the outcome of Athens if he were to leave. I disagree with Socrates. Opinions of

the majority do hold power. Socrates also fails to realize that immorality can come from

action and inaction. And similar to Socrates, I would also be concerned about the message

that is sent to Athens if he were to allow himself to be executed.

Plato’s Crito is a dialogue between Socrates, a philosopher, and Crito, one of his

associates. It is set in ancient Athens, which at the time was the first and only democracy.

Socrates awaits to be executed for a crime that he did not commit. Crito, who already

bribed the guard, attempts to convince Socrates to escape with him. Socrates insists on
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staying for his own reasons. Throughout this, Plato, who is one of his students, expresses

his stance through Socrates.

Socrates says that he does not value the opinion of the majority of the people. Crito

worries about what people will think of him if Socrates doesn’t take his offer to escape. He

says, “People who do not know you and me will believe that I might have saved you if had

been willing to give money, but that I did not care” (747). Socrates dismisses this, and

deems their opinions unworthy and unwise. While this particular kind of reputation may

not matter in the grander scheme of things, a similar topic arises. Socrates worries about

his own reputation if he were to leave. He’s too afraid that he’ll be received as an “enemy”

for ‘wronging’ Athens. He contradicts himself here. Socrates specifies that his personified

idea of Athens are his “friends and country” (754), which consists of an entire population.

Group mentality may be seen as uneducated, however those people hold a vast amount of

power. All activist gatherings, strikes and mobs are done in large groups, and despite their

stance, have had those in power accommodate to them.

Socrates says that it would be immoral for him to oppose law, even if it is unjust.

Throughout his whole life he’s lived in Athens, became attached to it and has a similar

relationship to its system as a father and child would. Socrates constructs a theoretical

conversation between him and a personified ‘Athens’. He believes Athens would say, “Well

then, since you were brought into the word and nurtured and educated by us, can you deny

in the first place that you are our child and slave, as your fathers were before you?” (752).
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He continues, saying that if he obeys the law, the law will work to favor him, and if he were

to revolt, the law would punish him. For someone who seems to support the idea of

Democracy, this perspective sounds rather authoritarian. In the agreement that Plato

shows, what would happen if the law punishes the innocent? That agreement would break.

Plato does not see that the governments set in place can be, and often are, corrupt. A

Democracy is run by the ‘power of the people’, meaning that we should have the ability to

make changes when needed. Socrates’ inactivity fails to initiate those needed changes.

Furthermore, Socrates says that he is worried about the outcome of Athens, based

on his decisions. He says that if he left with Crito, he would start chaos for reacting to evil

with more ‘evil’. He thinks Athens will say “We shall be angry with you while you live, and

our brethren, the laws in the world below, will receive you as an enemy; for they will know

that you have don’t you best to destroy us” (754). While it is true that the government will

see him as a threat by escaping and violate his own morality, it also lays out a whole other

message to Athens. As stated before, Democracy is a system that’s supposed to adapt to

change when it’s needed. If an unjust law such as the one that Socrates submits to fails to

be recognized as something that needs to be changed, it won’t. This, coupled with Socrates’

execution would send a message to the rest of Athens that anyone who tries to stand up to

unjust laws or voices ‘unwanted’ views would be killed or stifled. It would no longer value

the opinions of the people, and by extension no longer be Democracy.

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Socrates should have left. People’s opinions do matter in the grander scheme of

things because they shape the society we live in. He failed to fulfill his role as a citizen and

stand up to injustice. Lastly, him being executed would have made an example to people in

Athens and would restrict people’s voices.