Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher who was accused of impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens. His sentence was death, byway of drinking poison. However, prior to his execution day, a friend, Crito, offered Socrates an opportunity to flee Athens, and evade his death sentence. Socrates refused to run away, and he justified his reasons to Crito. I agree with Socrates’ justifications for not escaping, he accepted his death justly and faced the sentence the Athenian court declared. Throughout the Crito, Socrates explains his reasoning for not evading the government.
Socrates introduces several pivotal ideas in the dialogue, which led me to agree with his decision. The first idea requires a person to contemplate whether or not the society in which he lives has a just reasoning behind its’ own standards of right and wrong. The second idea requires a person to have pride in the life that he leads. In establishing basic questions of these two concepts, Socrates has precluded his own circumstance and continues to prove that the choice he has made is just. ..I am the kind of man who listens only to the argument that on reflection seems best to me.
I cannot, not that this fate has come upon me, discard the arguments used; they seem to me much the same. Socrates states that making a conscious choice to remain under the influence of a society is an unconscious agreement with that society to live your life by its’ standards and virtues. It is by this notion that people live by today as well. For example, a person chooses to live in a country with a certain type of government. By making the choice to live in this country, the person silently agrees to abide by the laws of that country, or else suffer the consequences.
It is to this principle that Socrates adheres to. After establishing the previous point, Socrates reinforces his decision by the fact that the laws and governing agents of the society must command a certain degree of respect. Any person who would disobey these laws creates a deliberate attempt to destroy them and implicitly the society that has imposed them. If the decisions of the city’s governing agents are not thoroughly respected as just and cohesive parts of society, the very structure by which the society stands is subject to collapse. If a person is found to be in violation of what his society stands for and does not accept the consequences of his actions, then there cannot be a system of law in place to create order.
You must either persuade it or obey its orders, and endure in silence whatever it instructs you to endure, whether blows or bond, and if it leads you into to war or be wounded or killed you must obey. The society in which a person lives, creates a mutual relationship in which every person in that society is indebted to if he willingly accepts that society for his own. Socrates concludes that if he were to follow Crito’s advice he would be committing several wrong actions against a society which he calls his own. In the time of the ancient Greeks, to disobey your won society, is the to betray what was taught to be right by parents. They pass on to their children what they hold to be true; for they brought a person into a society that they believed to be profound and just. In modern society we have similar beliefs.
Parents raise and teach their children beliefs and morals that they also hold to be correct. Socrates states that by remaining a member of a society, one must in fact accept the society as their own. The agreement he made within his city to obey the laws, and to live as a good citizen makes the thought of exile shameful and therefore unacceptable. Running away from the decision that his own society has made would be an affirmation of his own guilt in the eyes of his family and peers. Although he may have been wrongly imprisoned and sentenced to death, he holds very little value in the belief that two wrongs can achieve a right.
In this case the wrongs being his wrongful imprisonment, and his escape. Neither of these wrongs can achieve a justifiable pardon in society. He firmly stood before his own value system and only wished to preserve the society around him, the society that at one time accepted him. He indignantly renounced the idea of self-preservation and any attempt to escape because of the potential harm and damage that it ultimately would cause. In consideration of Socrates’ beliefs, I feel it is safe to conclude that Socrates is no more in favor of civil disobedience then he would be in disobeying the judgment that was brought down against him. Socrates holds incredible respect for the laws that govern him; he would not permit any deviance, be it great or small.
Ultimately, in my opinion, Socrates did the right and commendable thing. He would conclude that even a peaceful opposition to his government would be inappropriate.