CritoVersus the Apology
Critorefers to an earliest dialogue by Plato, a renowned Greekphilosopher, that recants a conversation between another ancientGreek philosopher named Socrates and his friend Crito, regardingmatters of justice, injustice, as well as the most appropriateresponses to integrity. Contrarily, the Apology,alsoknown as the Apologyof Socrates,is a book by Plato that presents a Socratic dialogue about legalself-defense, which Socrates delivered during his trial in 399 BCnotably, he was facing trials for impiety. Though the ApologyandCritoareboth authored by Plato and based on Socrates’s position, there havebeen concerns of an apparent conflict in their line of argument. InCrito,Socratesrefuses to escape from prison when Crito urges him to do so on thebasis that the most ethical thing to do is to remain in jail inaccordance with the laws of Athens here, he established that civilobedience is a vital aspect of moral uprightness. Nevertheless, inthe Apology,Socrates declares that he would not give up philosophy, even if hewere to be found guilty of the charges raised against him.Intrinsically, many philosophers and speculators alike note a slightcontradiction in Socrates’s arguments particularly, it seems asthough his refusal to abandon philosophy even on acquittal would be abetrayal of his responsibility of civil obedience. However, the factremains that the conflict is perceptible this paper establishes whythe contradictions in Socrates’s positions in Critoandthe Apologyaremerely apparent, analyzes the source of the conflict in the firstplace, and suggests how the impression of conflict can be dissipated.
Inessence, the aforementioned conflict of Socrates in Critoandthe Apologyismerely apparent or verbal, not ineluctable. Principally, Socrates isnot contradicting himself by presenting the seemingly divergingopinions in the two dialogues due to the fact that he has aqualification for either position intrinsically, this limits theapplicability of either position to particular circumstances. Inother words, the qualification for his position in the Apologyappliesto one set of cases, whereas his stand in Critoconcernsto an entirely different set of cases, such that both positions couldnever effect to a single, common circumstance or situation. In eitherdialogue, Socrates’s response was elicited by the nature of hispersonal circumstances, which were different in each dialogue.
Inthe Apology,Socratesis told to abandon philosophy or be imprisoned nevertheless, as muchas he values civil obedience, he feels that complying with theAthenian condition will be defying the gods, which in his opinion isa greater wrong. In doing so, he establishes that his compliance withthe law of the land here is limited to whether the decree defies thewill of the gods or otherwise he would have readily agreed to therequest without any resistance, if he felt that it was in congruencewith the gods’ wishes. Contrarily, in Crito,Socrateshas already been imprisoned for his refusal to abandon philosophy atthe behest of the Athenian court hence, he feels that running awaywith Crito will not be the right thing to do in his opinion, a wrongdeed cannot right another mistake (Warne 33). Overall, Socrates’sdecisions seem to be based on what he considers right or wrong giventhe circumstances in this view, he does not actually contradicthimself as he chooses the most just and moral option given thecircumstances in which he finds himself.
Principally,the source of conflict in the two dialogues by Plato stems from thethird principle in Crito,which presents that one ought to obey the laws of the city.Undeniably, this requirement seems to contradict his earlierstatement in the Apologythat he will not yield to the courts if they find him guilty, butrequire him to abandon philosophy as penance. Although this is true,it is important to acknowledge that such a belief fails to considerthe other two components of Critoonemust never do wrong, and one must never return immoral for wrong(Jones 75). When one considers these two earlier principles of Crito,itbecomes easier to see how the conflict in the ApologyandCritoismerely verbal.
Clearly,in the Apology,Socratesbelieves that the court’s verdict is unjust or wrong for asking himto ignore the call of the gods in such a manner, he defies the lawin advance by vowing not to adhere to the court’s request. Here, hestands for what he considers right. Moving on to Crito,Socrateshas already been imprisoned note that he considers this verdictunjust or wrong (Patterson 67). However, he refuses to escape ongrounds that doing so would be wrong, and that, according to thesecond component of Crito,onemust never return an immoral deed for another. Here, he acts inaccordance with what he believes is right even though justice was notaccorded to him. Overall, the source of conflict here is a failure toacknowledge that Socrates’s personal circumstances were differentin Critoandthe Apologyhence,his different wordings. Nevertheless, in both cases, he adhered tohis principle of doing what is right always. In such a way, theconflict in the two dialogues is merely verbal or apparent, not morethan that.
Seemingly,the most appropriate means of dissipating the conflict in the twodialogues is taking Socrates’s individual nature into account whenanalyzing Critoandthe Apology.Essentially,most of what is known about Socrates is exposed through Plato’sworks this given, most texts of Plato portray Socrates as a man whowould defy authorities if they asked him to do something thatcontradicted his moral principles. For instance, supposing theAthenian court asked him to rape and murder young innocent girlsunder the age of seven, he most certainly would not comply (Rudebusch56). If this is agreeable, it is easy to observe that his componentof abiding to the land’s law must be subject to limitations.Considering his reaction in the Apology,onecan easily note that this requirement is limited to the justness ofthe law. If one considers this line of thought, he/she can noticethat the conflict surrounding Socrates’s stand in the ApologyandCritois merely apparent, and comments in the latter should not be taken asSocrates’s rigid position about following the law.
Inconclusion, the conflict about Socrates’s comments in Critoandthe Apologyisonly verbal or apparent. In the Apology,he says that he will not leave philosophy even if the court demandsit nevertheless, later on, in Crito,herefuses to escape captivity even though he believed he has beenfalsely acquitted — this has been considered by many to be acontradiction of his statements. Nevertheless, in a bid to note theapparentness of the conflict, one must understand the personalcircumstances that forced him to make either statement. In theApology,he felt that the court’s requirement was wrong because it wouldforce him to defy the gods. In Crito,heurges people to do what is right always effectively, he felt thatdefying the court was the most morally upright thing to do given thecircumstances. Correspondingly, in Crito,herefuses to run because a wrong cannot be rectified by another. Insuch a way, Socrates’s stances in both Critoandthe Apologyarenot contradictory rather, they complement each other. In a bid tofurther notice this, one should consider Socrates’s personal naturewhen analyzing the conflict.
Jones,Darren O`Neal. OnSocratic Civil Disobedience: Reconciling the Crito & the Apology.Dissertation. San Francisco State University, 2012.
Patterson,Charles H. CliffsnotesPlato`s Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo.Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007.
Rudebusch,George. Socrates.Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
Warne,Christopher. Arguingwith Socrates: An Introduction to Plato`s Shorter Dialogues.Bloomsbury, 2013.