Will's Reviews > Crito

Crito by Plato
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Dec 28, 11

bookshelves: philosphy
Read from December 10 to 28, 2011

So here in the dialog often thought of as the companion to the Apology, we have a very different Socrates. Where the Apology shows him testing the boundaries and ideals of a man's relationship with community/state/law, the Crito brings an absolutist Socrates to the conversation. Here the ideas of citizenship are examined...entirely from the viewpoint of the state, and the individual's interests are entirely subjugated to the desires of the state. Where in Apology we see a man claiming relief against a misguided and repressive state, in Crito we find a man willing to kill himself simply to go along.

Here we can begin to argue our own points on the role of an individual in a community, but setting our personal ideas aside to some extent, I think we might agree on a couple of points:

#1: The attitude of complete subjugation to the state as expressed in Crito isn't something most of us would personally be able or willing to adopt.

#2: Given that many/most/all/some would not obey, a system dependent upon such obedience is probably flawed, perhaps fatally so.

No modern state has a pure form of this government today, but the USA comes the closest. Of course, we spend an enormous amount of resources to bring individuals into line with the laws, and just as much to constantly test, create, and reform laws to cause as little friction with individual life.

[I personally would suggest a system where the viewpoint isn't that of a top-down government, but a body politic composed of individual interests. There are some functions all citizens require, regardless of whether or not they agree. There are some few interests where all agree. There are many where the vast majority agree. The rest is largely well-intentioned meddling and ill-intentioned fraud and thievery.]

This struggle between the individual and the state, between the conscious of a man, and the will of the group is something which arises again and again. I'm not sure Crito does much to help the student figure out these problems.
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David Sarkies Plato seems to prefer to throw questions into the mix rather than give the answers directly to us, which is what I like about his writings. Mind you, even the Athenian Democracy had its flaws, which is almost a fatal flaw, and that is that a Democracy is sway basically by populism, and when you convince the people to support a dangerous precedent based on faulty logic, then the state itself will face problems. However, I would rather live in a Democracy than a dictatorship.


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