一、How many of you believe Socrates is innocent and should be
How many of you believe he is guity and more or less got what he
二、What it is to be a citizen?
S opposes the traditional,you might say Homeric conception,of the
citizen,certain notions of citizen loyalty and patriotism,created,shaped
by the poetic tradition going back to Homer.
He wants to replace that with a new kind of rational
citizenship,philosophical citizenship,which relies on one’s own powers
of independent reason and judgment and argument.
三、S says that he has spent his entire life pursuing private matters
rather than pubulic ones,and has deliberately avoided pubulic
issues,issues of politics.
That raises a question.How can any kind of citizenship be devoted just
to private matters and not public?Citizenship seems to require the
When S says that,he means that he has pursued a policy ,let’s call it
“the principled abstience from pubulic life.
S has abstained from participation in the collective actions of the
His own motto is “Do no harm.”,and to do no harm,he has required of
himself a kind of principled abstention from pubulic life.
He has refused to join in the judgment ot condemn and execute the ten
Athenian generals,who had failed to collect the corpses of the men lost
in a particular battle during the Peloponnesian War.
He has refused to participate in an arrest of a man who was wanted by
the Thirty Tyrants.
S’s point is that his own individual moral integrity stands an a kind of
四、Can a citizen put his own conscience above the law as S seems to
This is a problem that vexes Hobbes.Wether an individual can somehow
put their own sense of conscience or moral integrity even above the law?
What would a community of Socratic citizens look like?Each one picking
and choosing the laws or the rules to obey or not to follow.
S is so concerned with his individual,his private moral integrity.He
says that he will not dirty his hands with public life.
Machiavelli takes very seriously the question of wether or not
politics,political life requires one to dirty his hands in the world.
S seems to be in some respects an example of what Hegel in the
nineteenth century described as a “beatiful soul”,he used that term
That is some one who puts their own private moral incorruptibility above
五、S tries to defend his point of view by arguing that his policy of
abstinence actually carries impotant benefits to the city.
He defines himself as a gadfly,who improves the quality of life in the
S writes,”If you kill me, you will not easily discover another of my
sort,who has simply been set upon the city by the God as though upon a
great and well-born horse who is rather sluggish because of his great
size,and needs to be awakend by some gadfly.Just so in fact the god
seems to have set me upon the city as someone of this sort.I awaken and
persuade and reproach each one of you and I do not stop settling down
everywhere upon you the whole day.”
S declares himself not only to be the gift of the god who is
brought,but also a great benefactor of the city.His example of
individual moral conscience brings with it great public benefits.
六、It is not on his behalf,he tells the audience,but yours,his fellow
citizens’,that he does what he does.
And furthermore he claims that he has no choice in the matter.This is
not something he has chosen to do,he has been commanded to do this.
He seems to envelope himself and his way of life with a kind of
religious imagery.He envelopes his conception of citizenship within this
七、What could be more ludicrous S declaring himself or anyone
declaring themselves to be a gift of the divine.
Should S be tolerated?Would a good society tolerate S?
How far should freedom of speech be tolerated?
S demands that the Athenians change not simply this or that aspect of
their policy,but he demands nothing less than a drastic,even
revolutionary change in their civic life,in their civic culture.
He tells his fellows citizens that their lives are not worth living,only
the examined life is worth living.
八、The Crito presents the city’s case,makes the case for the dignity
of the laws.
Crito is named for a friend and disciple of S,who at the outset of the
dialogue is sitting as a watchful guardian over his mentor.He urges S to
allow him to help him escape.
But S says,No state can exist without rules.The first rule of any
state is the rule that citizens are not free to set aside the rules,to
choose among them which ones to obey and to disobey.
To question or disobey a single law is tantamount to destroying the
authority of the law.
We are what we are,because of the power and authority of the laws,the
customs,the traditions,the culture that has shaped us.
The laws have begat us.
九、Why does S exhibit such proud defiance and independence of the
laws in the Apology and such total,even kind of mouse-like acquiescence
to the laws in the Crito?
The Apology and the Crito represent a tension between two more or less
permanent and irreconcilable moral codes.
The one represent by S regards reason,that is to say the sovereign
reason of the individual as the highest possible authority.
It is the philosopher’s reliance on his own reason that frees him from
the dangerous authority of the state,and safeguards the individual from
complicity in the injustice and evils that seem to be a necessary part
of political life.
The other moral code is represented by the speech of the laws where it
is the laws of the community,its oldest and deepest beliefs and
institutions,its constitutions,its regime,that are fundamentally
obligatory on the individual,and even take priority over the individual.