The Socratic Citizen

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Assignment I: Is Socrates a good citizen? Discuss with reference to the Apology and the Crito.
The Socratic Citizen
Plato’s Socrates is a character plagued and prized with contradictions. He professed to care for nothing so much as virtue and human excellence but was incriminated by the greatest and most open democracy in ancient history. He was wrongfully convicted, yet unwilling to avoid his unjust execution. He is at once the most Athenian, citizenly, patriotic, and other-regarding of philosophers—and yet the most critical and self-regarding of Athenians. In exploring that contradiction, between “Socrates the loyal Athenian citizen” and “Socrates the philosophical critic of Athenian society,” Aristotle’s Politics comes to mind: “the
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He presents himself as a human being of unparalleled piety and devotion who will risk life itself rather than abandon the duty that has been given to him.
Socrates claims to be a selfless benefactor of the polis in that he had exhausted his private resources in the pursuit of the public good (23b-c, 30a, 31a-c). Because he does what is good for his fellow citizens for whom he feels regard despite the danger to which this exposes him, Socrates claims to be a benefactor of the Athenians. He refers with pride to his record of military service and underlines that it was service to the democracy: “When the commanders that you elected to command me stationed me at Potidaea and Amphipolis and Delion, I remained there like anyone else, and ran the risk of death” (28e). He is an honorable citizen who disregards death and preaches that “The difficulty, my friends, is not to avoid death, but to avoid unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death.” He has demonstrated that he is, by his own right, a patriotic citizen who cares deeply about the good of his polis and one who consistently acts in what he sees as his city’s best interests; but he has also shown also that, in light of his own definition of patriotism, Socrates must be regarded as a uniquely patriotic Athenian.
Unlike the Apology, the Crito seems intended to exhibit the character of Socrates in one
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