Is it necessary for people to listen to the opinion of the majority because they live in the society? Is the majority’s vision of the problem always right? Plato’s dialogue Crito is based on the discussion of such issues as justice and injustice with references to the notion of the majority’s opinion.
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Crito insists that a person must listen to the opinion of the majority, and Socrates argues that it is impossible to pay attention to the opinions of all the people because it is important to concentrate only on the wise men’s ideas and examine it in relation to his specific situation and his vision of it.
In spite of the fact the opinion of a single person can be discussed as irrelevant in comparison with the opinion of many people, Socrates’ focus on the value of the opinion helps determine the main aspects of the issue and find the most appropriate variants to resolve it.
Socrates’ argument based on the principles of value, expertise, and justice is more convincing than the opinion of Crito which depends on the notion of reputation in its association with cowardice and tangibles.
Discussing the situation of Socrates’ being in prison, Crito provides his vision of the problem’s resolution with references to his values and ideals. Crito claims that it is possible to save Socrates from execution giving some money to the guard.
His decision is based on the idea that it is a kind of injustice to have money and not to use them to save the friend. It is the problem of reputation, and according to Crito’s arguments, it is possible to conclude that reputation is the social notion which depends on the opinion of the majority.
Crito draws Socrates’ attention to the fact that there can be “no worse reputation than to be thought to value money more highly than one’s friends, for the majority will not believe that you yourself were not willing to leave prison while we were eager for you to do so” (Plato 44e).
Crito supports his argument about the necessity to concentrate on the majority’s opinion, emphasizing that “the majority can inflict not the least but pretty well the greatest evils if one is slandered among them” (Plato 44d).
One the one hand, Crito’s arguments can be discussed as relevant if the majority is the group of people who can be discussed as wise.
On the other hand, the majority is the group of different people, and their opinion can be based on the principles of justice as well as injustice. That is why, Socrates disagrees with Crito’s position.
Socrates’ argument sounds more convincing because it is organized consequentially, and the principles on which it is based are correlated with the ideas of virtues. Thus, according to Socrates, the opinion can be discussed as valuable when it is expressed by wise persons who are experts in their spheres.
It is impossible to rely on the opinion of any person because of the lack of knowledge. Moreover, Socrates states that “the most reasonable people, to whom one should pay more attention, will believe that things were done as they were done” (Plato 44e).
From this point, it is also necessary to pay attention to the personal reflection on the problem and on the opinion.
Socrates emphasizes that “we must therefore examine whether we should act in this way or not, as not only now but at all times I am the kind of man who listens only to the argument than on reflection seems best to me” (Plato 46c).
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Basing on the reasonable opinion of wise persons and connecting its importance with the notion of justice, Socrates concentrates on the fact that unjust actions can lead only to injustice.
However, Crito develops the argument in the discussion with Socrates, stating “I do not think that what you are doing is just, to give up your life when you can save it” (Plato 45d). Nevertheless, if Crito pays attention to the life of a concrete person, Socrates discusses the issue with references to the larger context.
Injustice can lead to injustice and this chain can be endless. It is impossible to resolve the problematic issues with the help of definite unjust actions because of their consequences.
The discussion of Crito and Socrates is based on the opposition of the basic principles which they operate, developing their arguments. Socrates determines the notion of value paying attention to the idea of justice.
Thus, unjust actions which are not based on the reasonable opinions of the experts and which are harmful for the people’s body and soul can corrupt the person. Furthermore, when the person’s soul is corrupted it is worse than the corruption of a body.
From this point, unjust actions based on the wrong values cannot be discussed as the way to justice. Socrates’ argument helps understand that Crito’s ideas depend on the wrong values which are reputation as the reflection of the majority’s opinion and money which can be used for supporting unjust actions.
Socrates’ arguments lead to Crito’s agreeing with the philosopher’s position. Thus, Socrates presents his main argument stating that “we should not then think so much of what the majority will say about us, but what he will say who understands justice and injustice, the one, that is, and the truth itself” (Plato 48a).
It is possible to rely on the opinion of a person who knows the truth about the issue because of taking the expert’s position. Furthermore, relating to the situation of Socrates’ imprisoning, it is necessary to rely on something which is credible according to this definite situation.
That is why, Socrates bases his argument on the discussion of the Laws as the main source of the truth for resolving his situation. It is important to analyze the fact of Socrates’ imprisoning from the perspective of justice which comes from the city’s Laws.
Socrates proposes to examine the situation from the point of the Laws, saying “if what we say is true, you are not treating us rightly by planning to do what you are planning. We have given you birth, nurtured you, educated you; we have given you and all other citizens a share of all the good things we could” (Plato 51d).
From this point, a person cannot decide what to do without references to the Laws. In spite of the fact the Laws can be interpreted as unjust in relation to Socrates’ situation, it is his duty to rely on them as the source of the truth.
Having presented the basic ideas which reflect his vision of the problem of justice and injustice, Socrates concentrates on persuading Crito. Socrates uses questions, answering which Crito begins to agree with the philosopher’s position.
The discussion of the idea that it is relevant or not to focus on the opinion of the majority develops with references to such concepts as reputation, expertise, and values.
Thus, according to Socrates different people can have different values, and such values and money and reputation which is based on the other people’s opinion are the values used by not wise men. Moreover, wise men rely on their knowledge of the subject and their values are related to the notion of justice.
In this case, the possibility of Socrates’ escape from prison can be discussed as logical according the majority’s opinion, but it is unjust with references to the ideals of justice based on the Laws. Therefore, according to Socrates, the Laws can speak the truth and support the idea of justice.
Socrates’ point of view and position can be considered as more reasonable because he develops his argument basing on the ideals of justice. Socrates examines the issue from several perspectives and concludes that people should rely on the opinions of the wise people, but not all the persons are wise.
That is why, the majority’ opinion is not always good or reasonable. Thus, Crito’s claim can be discussed as less convincing in comparison with Socrates’ one because those values which are accentuated by Crito cannot be considered as relevant due to their unjust nature.
Furthermore, Socrates emphasizes that the person’s decision should be based on those opinions which are not only reasonable but also reflect the personal understanding of truth.
Plato. “Crito”. Classics of Western Philosophy. Ed. Steven M. Cahn. USA: Hackett, 2002. 42-48. Print.