Course Hero. "Dialogues of Plato Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Oct. 2017. Web. 23 June 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dialogues-of-Plato/>.
Course Hero. (2017, October 13). Dialogues of Plato Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 23, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dialogues-of-Plato/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "Dialogues of Plato Study Guide." October 13, 2017. Accessed June 23, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dialogues-of-Plato/.
Course Hero, "Dialogues of Plato Study Guide," October 13, 2017, accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dialogues-of-Plato/.
Socrates turns his attention to the relation he has to the Laws of Athens, separate and apart from the men who have charged, convicted, and sentenced him under those laws. He takes on the persona of the laws in order to argue on their behalf.
According to the laws, Socrates would "destroy" them if he chooses to escape. They offer multiple reasons why it would be wrong for him to leave without permission:
The personification of the Laws of Athens allows Socrates to clarify the direction of his obligation to remain in prison and follow through with his execution. It is not Socrates's accusers—not Meletus, Anytus, or Lycon—to whom Socrates is so obligated. If it is true that escaping would be unjust, and as such, would be harmful, there must be someone harmed. Hence, the personification of the laws.
The laws articulate a form of the social contract, the modern version of which is the agreement between members of a society. However, as Socrates articulates it, the agreement is between individual citizens and the law itself. In Socrates's view, the laws contribute to the good life he himself promotes. Were he to leave Athens, this life would have to be abandoned, and with it, his claim in the Apology that "the unexamined life is not ... worth living."
How can Socrates both maintain an obligation to the laws and (in the Apology) an obligation to the God by continuing to do philosophy? Living as a citizen places him squarely within the domain of legal authority, but that authority does not extend to commanding one do an injustice. So, Socrates's accusers do not have the authority to compel him to stop doing philosophy. Indeed, if doing injustice is always wrong, then it would be wrong to obey an unjust law. However, that is not at issue here in the Crito. Instead, the issue is whether or not Socrates should suffer injustice.