Joseph Volpi- Discussion 6
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Socrate does display in his Apology and the Crito that you should obey every state law, no matter what the circumstances are. Crito is presenting the argument that if Socrates stayed, he would lose his children as well as himself in a sense. Although Socrates always felt that one should not care about public opinion, he saw a light in Critos argument. The laws connect to Socrates’ argument in the Apology by arguing that if he lets the people escape, he will then be breaking the law, contrary to his argument overall.
This connects to Socrates’ life because he always believed in going against the law and the state his whole life. I think we should always obey the state, mainly because it is the land we live on, so we should respect it. I also think Socrates would disagree with this statement because he believed that we should not have loyalty to the government or the state overall. I agree with free thinking and escaping the hold that the state has on our mind, with respect to the way the state can control our mind as well. Henry David Thoreau would answer Socrates by telling him that he agrees with him, based on their similar viewpoints on the state and other subjects regarding government as a whole.
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Crito, Apology, and Civil Disobedience
In the Apology, Socrates does not say that one should always obey the state no matter what. Rather, he argues that one should obey the state only if the state’s laws are just and beneficial for the citizens. Socrates asserts that he is not guilty of the charges brought against him because he did not corrupt the youth or commit impiety. He argues that he has always been obedient to the state and has never acted against its laws (Biffle, 2001). In Crito, Socrates argues that he cannot escape from jail and must obey the state’s laws, even though he has been unjustly sentenced to death. Socrates believes that he owes his allegiance to the state and that by accepting its laws, he has made a social contract with the state. He argues that if he were to break this contract and escape, he would be acting unjustly and would be harming the state’s laws.
By having the law speak rather than saying those words himself, Socrates demonstrates that his obedience to the state’s laws is not based on his own personal desires but on a moral obligation. The law represents the voice of the state, and by listening to it, Socrates is acting in accordance with his conscience (Biffle, 2001). The law’s words connect with Socrates’ views on obedience to the state and conscience in the Apology because they highlight the importance of obeying just laws. Socrates believes that one should obey the state’s laws only if they are just and that one’s conscience should guide one’s actions.
Socrates’ own life and actions demonstrate his commitment to obeying just laws. He willingly accepts his death sentence because he believes that it is just and that it would be unjust to violate the laws of the state. Socrates is willing to follow his conscience even if it means sacrificing his own life (Biffle, 2001). One should obey the state’s laws when they are just and promote the common good. However, if the laws are unjust or harmful, one may be justified in disobeying them. Thoreau would urge Socrates to disobey the state’s laws if they were unjust, as he did in his refusal to pay taxes that supported slavery. Thoreau would argue that obedience to unjust laws is a form of slavery and that one’s conscience should guide one’s actions.
Thoreau would likely urge Socrates to escape jail rather than remain imprisoned and face unjust execution. Thoreau believed in civil disobedience and that individuals should take action to resist unjust laws. He would argue that Socrates had a moral obligation to disobey the unjust laws of the state and to take action to resist them.
I agree with both Socrates and Thoreau on the importance of obeying just laws and following one’s conscience. However, I believe that there are times when civil disobedience may be justified if the laws are unjust or harmful. The decision to disobey the state’s laws should be based on careful consideration of the ethical implications and the potential consequences of one’s actions.
Biffle, C. (2001). A guided tour of five works by Plato
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In the Apology and the Crito, Socrates is saying that one should always obey the state. The only exception to this would be if that person would do right and not do anyone wrong. After Crito tries to persuade Socrates to escape, Socrates states thatI cannot put away my old beliefs. The principles I honored and revered I still honor, and unless we can find other and better principles, I will not agree with you (Biffle, 63).? The argument that Socrates is making in the Crito by having the law speak rather than saying those words himself, is that leaving the prison would go against his beliefs and would create consequences for himself, his friends who helped him escape, and his family. The law had nurtured Socrates and has been responsible for his birth and his education. This is stated in the Crito when Socrates saysWell then, since you were brought into the world, 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 (Biffle, 66)?? Socrates states that he has lived in Athens all of his life and could have left if he wanted to, however he did not (because he loved Athens). By doing this, Socrates has made an agreement with the law in deed and by leaving the prison, he is turning his back on this agreement and doing the date wrong. Also, by doing this, Socrates believes that he will look like he was guilty. Socrates truly believes that by leaving the prison, he will go against everything that he believes and knows to be true.
I believe that Henry David Thoreau would answer Socrates by saying that one should obey the state when they believe that the state is right and just. He would encourage someone to not obey the state when they know that the state is unjust and wrong. For instance, Thoreau brings up the question of Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once (Thoreau, Civil Disobedience)?? As we know, Henry David Thoreau did not support slavery and was an abolitionist. He knew that slavery was wrong and unjust therefore, Thoreau statedI do not hesitate to say that those who call themselves abolitionists should at once effectively withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts (Thoreau, Civil Disobedience).? I believe that Henry David Thoreau would urge Socrates to escape the jail because even though the majority voted for Socrates to be killed, the thoughts of the majority can be wrong and unjust. For instance, Thoreau states thatA wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority (Thoreau, Civil Disobedience).? Thoreau would argue that since Socrates is a wise man, he should know that the decision made by the jury was wrong and unjust. Socrates was not truly guilty of the crimes brought against him because he had no intentions of corrupting the youth, nor was he a disbeliever of the gods. I agree with Henry David Thoreaus opinion on when a person should obey the state because there would be unjust laws that the state imposes. Also, I agree with his statement that the majority can be wrong, therefore it is important to take actions into your own hands and show your discontent. I see Socrates point in how he believed that he had an agreement with Athens and therefore he had to obey all laws, however I think that the most important part of a democracy is being able to speak up to laws that you find to be unjust.
Biffle, C., & Plato. (1995). A guided tour of five works by Plato: With complete translations of Euthyphro, apology, Crito, Phaedo (death scene), and “Allegory of the cave”. Mayfield Pub. Co.
Thoreau, H. D. (1849). Civil Disobedience .Bottom of FormBottom of Form
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