The Question of Socrates' Obedience

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The Question of Socrates' Obedience, Supported by Confucius Introduction Is it right to act in one's own best interest, or to obey the state? In other words, was Socrates right to obey the orders of the state of Athens to take poison, or should he have acted to preserve his own life by choosing exile or escaping? In The Trial and Death of Socrates, the question is posed to the philosopher whether it is right to act in one's own best interest or to obey the State. Crito argues that the State's punishment of Socrates is unjust, but Socrates argues rather that authority comes from God and that to flee the State's decision would be like fleeing God, which would neither be good nor in one's best interest. According to the teaching of Confucius, Socrates would have been following the principle of "Jên," which can be translated to mean "goodness." This paper will show why Socrates was right to obey the State and drink the poison; it will also show how the teaching of Confucius on goodness supports this decision and how Confucius' teachings, on account of their appeal to Goodness, are suppressed in a system of tyranny, where Goodness is essentially outlawed. Goodness according to Confucius and Socrates Arthur Waley (1989) writes that "Jên," in Confucius' Analects, "means 'good' in an extremely wide and general sense" (p. 28). Goodness, moreover, is understood as "complete submission" to authority either in rule or in ritual. An important distinction of "the Good," is that
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