Socrates will Refuse the Jury's Decision

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During Socrates’ defense against Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon in Plato’s Apology, Socrates states that he will refuse the jury’s decision, regarded as the Law of Athens, if the court were to acquit him on the basis that he stops practicing philosophy. However, later in Plato’s Crito, Socrates explains he cannot escape from prison due to the laws of Athens and thus adheres to the jury’s decision of a death sentence. Despite appearing to contradict himself, Socrates is actually not contradicting himself at all. Socrates asserts that he did nothing wrong in regard to the laws of Athens and has never been a bad example for the youth in comparison to everyone in the audience and jury. If Socrates were to lament and agree to the acquittal in order to live, then he would be going against his philosophical mission from god and would be agreeing that he did do something wrong; this is why Socrates testifies that he would die rather than agree to stop practicing philosophy. Since escaping jail to avoid death would contradict his ideals, Socrates refuses to disobey the laws of Athens, which he always adheres to, and decides he will commit to his sentencing despite the fact he is unjustly convicted. In both cases, Socrates is standing up for his ideals of philosophy and to his notion of goodness, which allows him to sensibly and honestly state that he will adhere to the jury (and therefore the Laws of Athens) in one case and is able to refuse to adhere to their judgments in another.

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