• frank
    14.8k
    @Fooloso4

    As part of a dive into normativity, I'm going to read Crito. Would you have time to moderate it?
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    I don't know what you have in mind in terms of moderating, but I look forward to participating.
  • frank
    14.8k
    I don't know what you have in mind in terms of moderating, but I look forward to participating.Fooloso4

    Like pick a translation you like and set pace?
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    As part of a dive into normativityfrank

    Perhaps you know that the name Crito comes from the Greek meaning "discern" or "judge". (This is noted in West's translation.)

    Like pick a translation you like and set pace?frank
    .

    I prefer the West translation from Four Texts on Socrates, but I cannot vouch for the security of any PDF copies of this translation.

    David Horan's new translation of the dialogues might be a good choice. It has the advantage of being available free online.

    In the general introduction he says:

    I believe that I unconsciously adopted a method that Friedrich Schleiermacher describes in his great essay On the Different Methods of Translating. Here he subordinates the common designation of translations as being either “faithful” translations or “free” translations to a division that is more relevant to philosophic works. He writes:

    “Either the translator leaves the writer in peace as much as possible and moves the reader toward him; or he leaves the reader in peace as much as possible and moves the writer toward him.”[1]

    If I were to attempt to capture the overall aspiration of these translations, I would say that they aim to move the reader toward Plato rather than leaving the reader in peace and adjusting the writings of Plato, and his associated language, to conform with modern expectations.
  • frank
    14.8k
    I prefer the West translation from Four Texts on Socrates, but I cannot vouch for the security of any PDF copies of this translation.Fooloso4

    I don't have that translation, but I can get it from Amazon. Up to you.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    I think the Horan translation might be a better choice for the discussion, but you might find West's translation and notes worth reading and having. I will keep a copy beside me and compare it to Horan.

    Another advantage of Horan is that quoting the text by copy and paste is much easier.
  • frank
    14.8k
    I think the Horan translation might be a better choice for the discussion, but you might find West's translation and notes worth reading and having. I will keep a copy beside me and compare it to Horan.

    Another advantage of Horan is that quoting the text by copy and paste is much easier.
    Fooloso4

    Ok. I'll go ahead and order the West translation, but we can stick to the Horan for the convenience. Cool!
  • frank
    14.8k
    A little introduction: Crito is a Platonic dialog that's about how the individual relates to society in terms of law and justice. If you receive an unjust verdict from your society, what should you do? Run away? Or face it?

    This dialog is traditionally accepted as a legitimate work of Plato, but one in which the real Socrates is allowed to speak. The first time I read it, I found it to be kind of heartbreaking.
  • frank
    14.8k

    I'm not sure how to quote from the Horan translation. I just get a little envelope when I try. Do you know how that works?
  • Moliere
    4.3k
    If you use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C after highlighting it copies to your clipboard and can be pasted here. (At least, that worked for me when I tested it)
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    Yes, this is how I am doing it.
  • frank
    14.8k

    I see. Thank you!
  • frank
    14.8k
    Crito has arrived to visit Socrates and they discuss his coming execution. This passage is packed with ideas for me:


    Crito: It seems all too clear but, dearest Socrates, even at this stage heed me, and save yourself. For if you die it is not just a single misfortune for me. No, quite apart from being deprived of a friend, the like of whom I shall never find again, many people who do not know you and me at all well will think that I did 44C not care enough to spend some money to save you. And what reputation could be more disgraceful than this, a reputation for setting higher value on money than on friends? For most people will not believe that you yourself were unwilling to leave this place, although we were willing to help.

    Soc: But bless you, Crito, why does popular opinion concern us so much? The best people, whose opinions are more worthy of consideration, will believe that we acted exactly as we should have acted.

    Crito: 44D But, Socrates, surely you can see that it is indeed necessary to care about popular opinion? The very situation we are now in demonstrates that, if someone is discredited in their eyes, the multitude can do harm, not only on the smallest of scales, but well-nigh the greatest harm of all.

    Soc: I really wish the multitude were able to do the greatest harm, Crito, so that they might also be able to do the greatest good, and all would be well. As it is, they are not able to do either, for they cannot make someone either wise or foolish, and they do whatever occurs to them.
    Horan translation

    There's a tug-of-war going on about popular opinion. Crito says we have to "care" what others think, and I'd fill out his thought with: conform to what others want you to be, because the crowd is dangerous, and at worst, they'll kill you for failing to satisfy their expectations.

    Socrates denies that the crowd has the greatest power, which in his view is the power to render others either wise or foolish.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    one in which the real Socrates is allowed to speak.frank

    For much of the dialogue he speaks on behalf of the city and its laws. He simply accepts these arguments. This is uncharacteristic. Taking the part of the city and says:

    ...you make such a habit of asking and answering questions. (50c)

    but now he is silent. Two reasons for this might be, first, that he has deliberately avoided politics and so chose not take part in the making and changing of laws, and second, he is not a rhetorician.

    ...a rhetorician, might have a lot to say about the subversion of the law whereby judgements, once delivered, stand supreme. (50b)

    Socrates' civic mindedness is evident, but he is not speaking in his own name, and this leaves open the question of the extent to which his own opinions coincide with that of city.

    There's a tug-of-war going on about popular opinion.frank

    Athens was a democratic regime. Socrates was convicted by a majority decision. His low opinion of public opinion, raises questions about how wise he thought the city and its laws actually were. And yet Socrates defends the city and its laws and abides by them.
  • frank
    14.8k
    one in which the real Socrates is allowed to speak.
    — frank

    For much of the dialogue he speaks on behalf of the city and its laws
    Fooloso4

    I meant that this has traditionally been thought to be about Socrates' real views as opposed to Plato's. The Republic, Phaedo, and Phaedrus are commonly thought to be expressions of Plato's views rather than Socrates'. Of course there isn't anything about Plato that's pinned down. At one time or another the authenticity of every work attributed to him has been questioned by some historian.

    For much of the dialogue he speaks on behalf of the city and its laws.Fooloso4

    Right, as the dialog emerges, we'll find that Socrates is a strong advocate of the rule of law (although we could ponder whether that's the right way to put it.) We can compare and contrast other prominent views, like the Stoic view. It comes down to how one thinks about one's place in society.

    We can see from the beginning of the dialog that the concept of individuality is in clear view, since it seems perfectly reasonable to Crito and his friends that Socrates should reject the judgement and run. That concept of individuality probably won't be eclipsed again until the middle ages.

    Athens was a democratic regime. Socrates was convicted by a majority decision. His low opinion of public opinion, raises questions about how wise he thought the city and its laws actually were. And yet Socrates defends the city and its laws and abides by them.Fooloso4

    So we'll look into his reasons for abiding by the law and discuss whether this is a proto-form of social contract theory.
  • Amity
    4.6k
    Grateful for this discussion. I like to read slowly, all the better to understand and appreciate.
    Therefore, my comments will lag behind. Hope you don't mind.

    Crito has arrived to visit Socrates and they discuss his coming execution.frank

    It is interesting to read the dialogue in the Introduction. It sets the scene and is quite telling as to the role and character of Crito. The very title of the dialogue.

    Socrates: 43A Why have you arrived at this hour, Crito? Isn’t it still early?
    Crito: It certainly is.
    Soc: What time is it, then?
    Crito: Just before dawn.
    Soc: I am surprised the prison guard was willing to answer the door for you.
    Crito: He knows me well at this stage, Socrates, because I visit the place so often and, what’s more, I have done him a favour.
    Crito - trans byHoran

    Crito is an old, loyal friend of Socrates, a regular visitor and anxious to help. He bribes the prison guard to let him in early. The reader sees him as a good guy but perhaps with questionable or flexible morals.

    the name Crito comes from the Greek meaning "discern" or "judge". (This is noted in West's translation.)Fooloso4

    Interesting, then, we can ask about whether he lives up to his name.
    Discernment: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure : skill in discerning/

    I love the humour of Socrates when Crito explains why he didn't wake him earlier:

    C: ...I am also amazed at you, when I notice how sweetly you sleep, and I deliberately refrained from waking you so that you might pass the time as pleasantly as possible.
    And on many previous occasions, all through your life, I have noted your happy disposition, especially now that I see how easily and calmly you are bearing this present misfortune.

    Soc: Actually, Crito, it would be most odd, at my age, to be troubled because I now had to die.

    He had a premonition in his dream - 'perhaps when you decided not to wake me' that the day of execution is to take place within 2 or 3 days.
  • frank
    14.8k
    Just another note before moving on, it's good to remember the circumstances in which Socrates was accused of impiety and misguiding the youth of the city. Athens has just lost a war. With hindsight, we know Athens will never fully recover from this loss. The citizens became demoralized and turned to scapegoating.

    They've always been irritated by Socrates, but now their feelings have turned to intolerance. There is a sort of blind madness to their desire to punish Socrates.
  • Amity
    4.6k
    There's a tug-of-war going on about popular opinion. Crito says we have to "care" what others think, and I'd fill out his thought with: conform to what others want you to be, because the crowd is dangerous, and at worst, they'll kill you for failing to satisfy their expectations.frank

    Crito's offer is to help Socrates escape from jail.
    This in itself would break the law. A questionable act. How would it help?
    We can examine the words in the dialogue.
    Crito's arguments as to why Socrates should escape from prison.
    Then Socrates' analysis or response.

    How many arguments are there, how convincing are they, and the responses given by Socrates.

    The first seems more about Crito, his loss of a friend and reputation; it sounds selfish:

    No, quite apart from being deprived of a friend, the like of whom I shall never find again, many people who do not know you and me at all well will think that I did not care enough to spend some money to save you. And what reputation could be more disgraceful than this, a reputation for setting higher value on money than on friends?

    This Socrates finds irrelevant. Crito shouldn't be concerned with the opinions of others.
    Crito points out that it is very powerful; it can kill. As seen in Socrates current position.
    Crito is willing to spend a substantial amount of money to arrange the escape. And beyond that.
    Via corruption? I can't see Socrates agreeing to that. Why would his friend?

    Socrates was convicted by a majority decision. His low opinion of public opinion, raises questions about how wise he thought the city and its laws actually were. And yet Socrates defends the city and its laws and abides by them.Fooloso4

    Good point.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    We can see from the beginning of the dialog that the concept of individuality is in clear viewfrank

    Speaking on behalf of the city Socrates raises the problem of the relationship between the city and the family as well. I will hold off saying more until we look at that speech more closely.

    ... it seems perfectly reasonable to Crito and his friends that Socrates should reject the judgement and run.frank

    This is complicated by the fact that he was given the opportunity to do go under the law but rejected that option.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Interesting, then, we can ask about whether he lives up to his name.Amity

    He accepts Socrates' speech on behalf of the city without question. But it does raise questions.

    ... at my age ...

    Note Crito's response. He does have some capacity for discernment:

    But, Socrates, other men of your age have been overtaken by similar misfortunes, yet their age does not free them from being troubled over their predicament.
    (43c)

    Commentators have speculated as to why Socrates did not defend himself at trial. One common explanation has to do with his advanced age.
  • Amity
    4.6k
    Note Crito's response. He does have some capacity for discernment:Fooloso4

    Indeed. Perhaps, as a long-term and good friend, he was 'ready' for Socrates' reply. Has Socrates talked of his age before; how it factored into his decision not to defend himself?

    He accepts Socrates' speech on behalf of the city without question.Fooloso4

    I'm not there yet but thanks for the heads-up.

    I think it would be helpful to follow the discussion if the various arguments were numbered or named?
    As in a kind of Contents page, showing where they arise in the Dialogue.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Crito shouldn't be concerned with the opinions of others.Amity

    But given what has happened to Socrates, he should be. Crito makes this point:

    But, Socrates, surely you can see that it is indeed necessary to care about popular opinion? The very situation we are now in demonstrates that, if someone is discredited in their eyes, the multitude can do harm, not only on the smallest of scales, but well-nigh the greatest harm of all.
    (44d)

    Socrates' concerns lie elsewhere:

    I really wish the multitude were able to do the greatest harm, Crito, so that they might also be able to do the greatest good, and all would be well. As it is, they are not able to do either, for they cannot make someone either wise or foolish, and they do whatever occurs to them.

    @frank Perhaps we can see here one way in which Plato's views differ from Socrates'. Since Socrates did not write his influence was more limited than Plato's. Plato did not simply write, he wrote in a way that heeded Crito's warning to care about the opinion of the many. He did this in two connected ways. He presents a salutary teaching that even though it did not make one wise it helped shape the opinions of the many. He also left some things unsaid that

    The best people, whose opinions are more worthy of consideration
    (44c)

    might discern through careful reading and interpretation.

    In this way Plato mitigates against Socrates concern that the written word does not take into consideration who it is addressing and so cannot say what is most appropriate for different readers to hear.

    Socrates sought to benefit his friends without harming others. Plato wrote for posterity.
  • Amity
    4.6k
    Crito shouldn't be concerned with the opinions of others.
    — Amity

    But given what has happened to Socrates, he should be.
    Fooloso4

    Yes. As noted in my full quote (now underlined):

    This [argument] Socrates finds irrelevant. Crito shouldn't be concerned with the opinions of others.
    Crito points out that it is very powerful; it can kill. As seen in Socrates current position.
    Crito is willing to spend a substantial amount of money to arrange the escape. And beyond that.
    Via corruption? I can't see Socrates agreeing to that. Why would his friend?
    Amity

    1. Personal Argument: 44c-44d
    https://www.platonicfoundation.org/crito/
  • Amity
    4.6k
    The best people, whose opinions are more worthy of consideration

    Who are those 'best people'? The wise? Those concerned with morality and carrying out justice?

    Are they more likely than the popular majority to carry out the greatest good? How much influence do they have? (philosophers?)

    I really wish the multitude were able to do the greatest harm, Crito, so that they might also be able to do the greatest good, and all would be well. As it is, they are not able to do either, for they cannot make someone either wise or foolish, and they do whatever occurs to them.Crito - trans. Horan

    Don't the majority also have a sense of morality and justice?

    I think I see what you mean. If it's not the right or wisest kind, it can be shaped by teaching.
    'Crito' is Plato's Dialogue and long-term project:

    Since Socrates did not write his influence was more limited than Plato's. Plato did not simply write, he wrote in a way that heeded Crito's warning to care about the opinion of the many. He did this in two connected ways. He presents a salutary teaching that even though it did not make one wise it helped shape the opinions of the many. He also left some things unsaid that

    The best people, whose opinions are more worthy of consideration
    (44c)

    might discern through careful reading and interpretation.
    Fooloso4

    Ah, but wait...is this teaching is only for those already deemed 'the best'...?
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    As noted in my full quote (now underlined):Amity

    It bears repeating and underlying. It will come up again. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the fate of philosophy then and now relies on knowing how to navigate through the dangers.

    Who are those 'best people'? The wise?Amity

    I think Socrates might say, those who wish to be wise and live toward that end through thoughtfulness and moderation.

    Are they more likely than the popular majority to carry out the greatest good? How much influence do they have? (philosophers?)Amity

    Neither the philosopher nor the people are able to carry out the greatest good, but only the philosopher takes seriously the question of what the greatest good is.

    As what we are doing makes evident, Plato continues to have a great deal of influence. Some might say that this is to the detriment of philosophy, but others see it as a way for philosophy to once again find its way.

    Don't the majority also have a sense of morality and justice?Amity

    They have opinions and assume they are right and true.

    Ah, but wait...is this teaching is only for those already deemed 'the best'...?Amity

    It is a self-selective process. Most have no interest or patience to work through the arguments, and so, if they do have this interest and are of moderate temperament will match with my suggestion above about who the best people might be.
  • frank
    14.8k
    erhaps we can see here one way in which Plato's views differ from Socrates'. Since Socrates did not write his influence was more limited than Plato's. Plato did not simply write, he wrote in a way that heeded Crito's warning to care about the opinion of the many. He did this in two connected ways. He presents a salutary teaching that even though it did not make one wise it helped shape the opinions of the many. He also left some things unsaid that

    The best people, whose opinions are more worthy of consideration
    (44c)

    might discern through careful reading and interpretation.

    In this way Plato mitigates against Socrates concern that the written word does not take into consideration who it is addressing and so cannot say what is most appropriate for different readers to hear.

    Socrates sought to benefit his friends without harming others. Plato wrote for posterity.
    Fooloso4

    Yes, I can see that.
  • Paine
    2.2k
    So we'll look into his reasons for abiding by the law and discuss whether this is a proto-form of social contract theory.frank

    That is an interesting observation. Plato does talk about how the relationships between classes and skills compose a city. The Republic presents the idea of building one from scratch. And that brings out some of the problems of inheriting what we have.

    In that regard, I have long thought the following passage in Crito to be the most striking:

    But what if you avoid the well-regulated cities, and the men who are most orderly? But if you do this, will you have any reason to live on? Or will you associate with these people and, without any shame, discuss … what propositions, Socrates? The same ones you discuss here, that excellence and justice, regulations and the laws, are of the utmost value to people? And don’t you think that the conduct 53D of Socrates will appear unseemly? You should think so. — Harmon, 53C

    I read this to say Socrates is owned by the City to the extent he has the power to be Socrates. The Republic is not only a start-up idea where policies can be argued about but is the element bringing the new City into life.

    So, not either a Hobbes or Rousseau point of view.
  • Amity
    4.6k
    1. Personal Argument: 44c-44d
    https://www.platonicfoundation.org/crito/
    Amity

    Crito persists with his Personal Arguments: 44e-45c

    But just tell me, if you escape from here are you concerned for me and for your other associates, in case the informers make trouble for us and we have to forfeit all our property, or incur a large fine, or suffer some worse fate at their hands? For if you are afraid of any such outcome, bid it farewell, for it is only right that we run these risks to save you, and even greater risks if necessary. So, heed me and just do as I say.Horan

    Then more forcefully, arguments related to:
    Allowing his enemies to win by destroying him; and then his obligations to sons and friends.
    Basically, he accuses Socrates of betrayal and cowardice. 45d-46a.

    And I think you are choosing the easy way out, when you should choose whatever a good and courageous man would choose, especially when you spend your entire life speaking of concern for excellence.

    So, I am ashamed both on your behalf and on behalf of ourselves, your associates, lest this entire situation in which you are involved may seem to have developed because of some cowardice on our part:
    the fact that the action went to court when it was possible that it not go to court, how the trial of the action itself unfolded, and to cap it all, as the most absurd aspect of the matter, people will think that an opportunity escaped us, due to our own baseness and cowardice, since we did not save you, nor did you save yourself, when we were well able to do so if we were of any use at all.
    So beware, Socrates, in case these matters bring not just evil upon yourself and others, but disgrace too. So make your decision.
    Horan
    [emphasis added]
    To take it to these extremes, we can see Crito's passion to save Socrates from death.
    He sees a contradiction, a lack of consistency in Socrates - isn't Socrates being a hypocrite, given his 'concern for excellence'?
    He begs Socrates not only to think of himself but family and friends.
    [As if Socrates hasn't already considered his duties to family]
    Did it not matter if his enemies would win by this capitulation and cowardice?

    How will Socrates respond?
    How different are his values and life/death philosophy from those of Crito?
    Haven't they previously discussed such issues of harm, judgement and justice...and more?
    How does Crito not know Socrates? Has he learned nothing?!
    Or is his own fear (of death?) clouding his judgement?
  • Paine
    2.2k

    I think there is an expression of fear in Crito's argument here. There is also an element of corruption being suggested. The dialogue begins with Crito noting he bribed the jail keeper to get in early. Is the disgrace Crito fears a loss of power at the same time?

    The discussion of cowardice reminds me of the following from Cratylus:

    What remains to consider after justice? I think we have not yet discussed courage. [413e] It is plain enough that injustice (ἀδικία) is really a mere hindrance of that which passes through (τοῦ διαϊόντος, but the word ἀδρεία (courage) implies that courage got its name in battle, and if the universe is flowing, a battle in the universe can be nothing else than an opposite current or flow (ῥοή). Now if we remove the delta from the word ἀνδρεία, the word ἀνρεία signifies exactly that activity. Of course it is clear that not the current opposed to every current is courage, but only that opposed to the current which is contrary to justice;Plato, Cratylus, 413

    Socrates is using the vocabulary of Heraclitus and connects "manliness" to the willingness to leap into battle against a 'current' that needs to be opposed.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    In fact, one should either not beget children at all, or else face the difficulties of rearing and educating them.
    (45d)

    This should be compared to what, in Socrates words, the city claims regarding education and rearing. It may seem like a minor point but it has direct bearing on the question of what his responsibility to the city is based on the claim of what it is responsible for.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    And if we have no better arguments to offer at the moment, then rest assured, I shall not go along with your plan …
    46c

    Crito is not able to give a better argument for why Socrates should not comply with the court's decision. Can we?
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