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Plato: “Apology” and “Crito”

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1 Plato: “Apology” and “Crito”
Philosophy 219 Plato: “Apology” and “Crito”

2 Plato ( BC) From an old aristocratic family in Athens. Father: Ariston; brothers: Glaucon and Adiemantus. All of these individuals appear in Plato’s dialogues. As a young man, Plato was greatly interested in philosophy and politics. He was a friend and companion of Socrates. After the death of Socrates, he fled Athens. Upon returning to Athens around 385 BCE, he founded his school, the Academy, which many people call the first university. It lasted until 529 ACE. He taught at the academy, with a few interruptions, until his death.

3 Plato’s Work Plato’s philosophical project is available to us primarily through a series of dialogues. The dialogues pose us a particular problem of interpretation. They are very tightly constructed dramatic presentations of various philosophical issues. Though the philosophical content is at the heart of these dialogues, it is not a simple matter to separate the dramatic elements from the philosophical. Actually, we might not even want to, as Plato himself seems to suggest that the dramatic form is important to the content.

4 Socrates ( BC) Came from a middle class background. Usually described as a robust, though unattractive man. Born at the time of the peak of Athenian power and was an adult at the time of the Peloponnesian war, in which he served with distinction.

5 Socrates’ Work He left no writings and it is therefore difficult to discern his actual philosophical positions. There are a few characteristics of what Socrates was all about upon which there is general agreement. Socrates was primarily concerned with ethical matters. Socrates searched for universal definitions— “What is X?” Socrates’ method was the elenchus. A thesis is extracted from an interlocutor, further beliefs are elicited, these beliefs are shown to be inconsistent with the original thesis. Socrates’ used irony (the use of a word to express something other than the literal meaning )as a rhetorical strategy. Irony provided the opportunities for: humor, mockery and posing riddles (and perhaps suggesting conclusions).

6 The Trial of Socrates In 399 BCE. Socrates was brought to trial on the indictment of a young man, Meletus. This was likely done at the urging of two other men, Anytus, a politician that was a favorite target of Socrates’ irony, and Lycon, a sophist. The indictment reads: Meletus, son of Miletus, of the deme of Pithus, indicts Socrates, son of Sophroniscus, of the deme of Alopiccae, on his oath, to the following effect. Socrates is guilty of not worshipping the gods of the state, but of introducing new and unfamiliar religious practices and, further, of corrupting the young. The prosecutor demands the death penalty. Socrates was eventually found guilty by a small margin. He was sentenced to death by a wider margin.

7 Plato’s Apology (outline)
I-Defense (17a-35e) 1. Prologue (17a-19a) a)Preface (17a-18a) b)Setting forth the accusations (18a-19a) 2. Who is Socrates? (19b-24b) a)The refutation of the old accusations (19b-20c) b)Human Wisdom (20c-20e) c)Prodding of the god (20e-24b) 3. Meletus in the elenchus (24b-28b) 4. Socrates and the Polis (28b-35e) a)the philosopher and death (28b-30b) b)the gadfly (30b-31c) c)the philosopher and politics (31c-33b) d)the philosopher and the youth (33b-34b) e)victory at any cost? (34b-35e) II-The Plea (35e-38c) III-The Exhortation (38c-42a)

8 Plato’s Crito The Crito is set in the days following Socrates’ trial. Usually he would have been executed quite quickly, but his sentence happened to coincide with an important religious holiday, so there was a long delay, during which time Socrates was frequently visited by friends. The dialogue represents one such visit, by Crito, a lifelong friend of Socrates, though not a philosopher.

9 Crito in Outline Socrates awakes in the early morning and sees his longtime friend Crito sitting by his bed. S's impending execution The Laws as persons (pp50a ff): S gives reasons why he should not escape: first, you must persuade or obey your country for the same and stronger reasons as you persuade or obey your parents: Lastly, the consequences are dire;

10 Escape, Socrates! Crito urges him to escape; he gives various reasons (44c - 46b). S answers him: He warns 1st against eagerness to help as a substitute for thinking reasonably (46b), and states his guiding principle of following reason (46b-c); He and Crito decide that harms can be to the body or to the 'soul', and compare them as to how harmful they are; they decide what the 'good life' is - what brings happiness, or fulfillment, and who can bring such good life about for each of us; S and C agree that being just and being 'good' (fulfilled) are the same, and use this to find out if it is just for S to escape death at the hands of the Athenians.

11 The Laws As Persons Crito confesses he doesn't understand,and so to teach him, Socrates gives his great analogy - the Laws as persons (pp50a ff): To go against the laws is to attempt to destroy them (50d); and they have given you everything, so the attempt is even more serious. So "you must either [i.] persuade it [your country] [ii.] or do whatever it commands. . .” (28). It is “sinful [impious would be a better translation] to use violence against your fatherland” (51b-c).

12 I Can’t Escape You must persuade or obey your country for the same and stronger reasons as you persuade or obey your parents: As a child they gave us 'succor' - food, shelter, all your knowledge, as an adult, we've used their services voluntarily; Further, it would be breaking a voluntary 'agreement' with the City/laws, and it's unreasonable to do this now that its judgments are going against me. Lastly, the consequences are dire; Referring to the discussion about bodily v spiritual harms, for in gaining bodily comforts of exile and no death S will harm others and himself: others b/c they will be in danger or exile etc also; S b/c you will be seen as unjust for you are unjust in obeying the laws just when it goes your way.

13 Is it the Same Politics? Do we get the same account of the relation between the individual and the polis in the Crito that we got in the Apology? What are the similarities? What are the differences?

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