Socrates is depicted as an individual who seeks justification for his/her actions. He tries to use his reasoning to determine whether an action is right or wrong. Socrates ignores the fact that in every society, there are certain values that must be observed at all times. His moral point of view is not in line with the view of the religion or society as a whole. After conviction, Socrates was sent to jail where he was to be executed. Before his execution, Crito came to visit. Crito informed him that plans were in place to help him escape. However, according to Socrates, by escaping, he is breaking the laws of the land, and he doesn't want to be part of the society which does not respect the laws. Crito informs Socrates that the opinion of the majority will judge him wrong if he doesn't help him since everyone who is in the same position will find it prudent to escape. While this reasoning seems to question the opinion of the majority, there are instances where Socrates assumes to accept it. He suggests that one must never do wrong and that what is worth in life is a good life. If the body is corrupted, then, one cannot live a good life. Similarly, if the part that is concerned with justice and injustice is manipulated, then life is not worth living. The opinion of the majority is not as powerful as it cannot do the greatest harm.
The author is trying to say that the decision of an individual to believe in something is a personal choice. If one believes in the rule of law, justice is always a priority. The key question is whether those who are serving death sentences or execution are happy to die because they believe in the law. In the case of Socrates, by keenly looking at his submissions in the trial, there is no moment he realizes he should be set free. In as much as the dialogue tries to justify the decision of Socrates to stay in prison rather than try to escape after his wrongful condemnation, it is evident that there is a clear distinction between the just laws which Socrates had to obey and the unjust behavior of the accusers who wanted him killed.
Just and unjust laws are separate entities. In the society, it is very difficult to separate the laws of the land and the people who want them implemented. If the society and the laws have ruled that Socrates had to be sentenced to death, either the society is siding with the laws or the laws siding with the community. In this regard, it is very difficult to say that laws are just and must be respected by everyone and that the same people are unjust and should be respected (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/bettany-hughes-on-socrates). If people are just and the laws are unjust, then it seems the society is in a dilemma. In this case, if Socrates escaped, he will be acting against the just laws of the land, and if he stays in prison as he suggested, he will be siding with the accusers.
If an individual believes that what the majority thinks is right, then it is not possible for the same people to subscribe to what the minority stand for. The ethical views seem to vary from across time and place. Values are relative to culture. In most societies, social factors determine beliefs about how things should be. The perspective helps one to respect the beliefs of cultures that are different from the familiar ones. Socrates believed that people should always be just in whatever they do. Every act of injustice harms the wrongdoers themselves as such actions are likely to manipulate the soul. It is not the consequences of the actions that can harm people but the very actions themselves.
People think the way they do because they want to. Socrates' basic idea that the unexamined life is not worth living is what it means to live in the modern world. By rejecting the offer of acquittal or probation, Socrates main objective was to prove whether his followers or any Athenian know what they think they know or truly understand the bases of their actions and life (https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3ggnct). However, the critics of civil disobedience argue that Socrates was reverent and submissive and was a slave of the law willing to suffer injustice if fails to persuade people of their decision and errors of judgment. According to the author, it seems that it is better to accord oneself with the rules than to side with the majority. In Western civilization, a legal system exists because of the kind of contract between society and the state.
The community is aware that its members are never justified in doing what is morally wrong even in self-defense or retaliation. By making the agreement with Athens and its laws, Socrates posits that he never found fault with any of the laws or tried to change them for his own good (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci55Qx_RYto&feature=youtu.be). There is a difference between the law and other systems of norms such as morality. Since most people have received the benefits and protections of living under the law for most of their lives, they are obligated either to obey the law or to persuade the government that the laws should be enforced against them. An individual who observes the law and respects it will never go against the same law regardless of what other people think of him/her. Such a person's life exhibits distinctive integrity.
People have an obligation to obey unjust laws and accept unfair punishment for laws they have not broken because of the fact that they are part of the society that believes and sanctions such laws. This is the main reason why Socrates found it so honorable to die for the laws he did not violate. However, by choosing the unjust punishment, an individual sanctions injustice against him/herself. The death of Socrates is seen as the outcome of democratic governance. Some people are likely to demand bad laws and enforce them as a means to persecute superior people in the community. When this happens, the majority will always dominate. The slander of the mob should be disregarded because it is not a reflection of what everyone stands for. Currently, there are some people who would rather die than to offend the laws. They obey the laws because they believe that violating the law is to violate the regulations as the overarching structure of authority. The laws teach people to be good and to engage in activities that are in line with their goals.
Dailymotion. Top Documentary Films: The Bizarre World of Ancient Greece - Video Dailymotion. [Online] (2015). Available at: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3ggnct
Megan Gambino. Bettany Hughes on Socrates. Smithsonian Magazine. 2011. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/bettany-hughes-on-socrates-802862/YouTube. Socrates: Biography of a Great Thinker. [Online] (2015). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci55Qx_RYto&feature=youtu.be
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