This Week's Reading: Crito
fulsome has asked a question about Socrates that is particularly relevant in this dialogue. Was Socrates a martyr? I will give my answer at the end of my analysis (or are these merely comments?). Most of my notes are tied up with this question, but I have some other points that I think are important.
Starting at the start of my notes, I find that on page 32 section 47E, a sort of argument for euthanasia. To quote, "...is life worth living with a body which is worn out and ruined in health?" Taken out of context one could find this to be a statement of Socrates' belief that life as an old man sucks and he just wants to die. This would not be the case. The soul, or mind, is vastly more important than the body and as long as one's mental faculties are intact, life is livable.
Socrates says in a roundabout manner that ethics are matters of eternal right and wrong. Morals are matters of right and wrong that are determined by the public. Socrates was disdainful of any attempt to regard the opinion of the public. I wonder what he would think about the debate about stem cell use. I have read that the Korean scientists were able to create twelve new stem cell lines from sick people in attempts to help cure them. This was overshadowed by the whole clone dog stuff.
There are ways to damage the soul that don't have any physical harm. Breaking the laws of your state are a harm to your soul as are other bad/evil deeds. In the event of a law that is bad, one should strive to change that law instead of breaking it. This is the basis of Socrates' defiance of his friend's attempts to break him out of jail.
Socrates also states that one must never do wrong. This harms the soul. Socrates also says that one must obey the laws and edicts of the city. The city provided the society in which you grew and were educated. A person owes their parents for their life but owes their city/state for the development of the personality/soul. Thus, without Athens (or the U.S.) being the way it was, one would be a completely different person. One must never break the laws of the city. What if Athens had declared war on Corinth because of a thinly held claim that Corinth had developed a new form of spear that could kill men from further away? What if evedince was found before the declaration of war that Corinth had no such spear? What if no one could change the minds of Athens' council and the people had no wish to attack Corinth with no provocation? Would Socrates have gone to war at his city's request in this situation? I think he would have.
To further this argument, if I claim to try to follow a Socratic example then how can I do this without enlisting? I vote and help people cross the street and all that, but I have never been in the military. I know that if I receive a draft notice, I would not hesitate to report for duty but our army needs recruits now and I haven't signed up. fulsome makes the claim that our city has not asked anything of us. There has been no draft or even a public request for people to enlist, to my knowledge, by the President and Thief in Command.
I don't think Socartes was a martyr. Martyrs die for their cause and are usually asked to renounce their cause under some form of duress. Socrates was asked to flee the city by his friends, but he was never given an option to renounce his views once he was sentenced to death. He knew that the sentence would be death and didn't make any claim of deference to the court. Before sentencing, Socrates could have said that he would stop his search for wisdom and stop talking to people about it, but he said that this would be a harm to him. Although, this could all be a support of the position that he was a martyr. I need to ponder this more.
PS. This was late due to another power outage in my apartment. Some butterfly must have been taking a crap in Argentina.