Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato's Crito

Synopsis

In Socrates Dissatisfied, Weiss argues against the prevailing view that the Laws are Socrates' spokesmen. She reveals and explores many indications that Socrates and the Laws are, both in style and substance, adversaries: whereas the Laws are rhetoricians who defend the absolute authority of the Laws, Socrates is a dialectician who defends--in the Crito no less than in the Apology--the overriding claim of each individual's own reason when assiduously applied to questions of justice. It is only for the sake of an unphilosophical Crito, Weiss suggests, that Socrates invents the speech of the Laws; he resorts to rhetoric in a desperate attempt to save Crito's soul even as Crito sought to save his body. Indeed, as Weiss shows, Socrates' own philosophical reasons for remaining in prison rather than escaping as Crito wishes are clearly and fully articulated before the speech of the Laws begins. In this book, Roslyn Weiss contends that, contrary to prevailing notions, Plato's Crito does not show an allegiance between Socrates and the state that condemned him. Denying that the speech of the Laws represents the views of Socrates, Weiss deftly brings to light numerous indications that Socrates provides to the attentive reader that he and the Laws are not partners but antagonists in the argument and that he is singularly unimpressed by the case against escaping prison presented by the Laws. Weiss's greatest innovation is her contention that the Laws are very much like the judges who preside at Socrates' trail--interested not in justice and truth but in being shown deference and submission. If Weiss's argument is correct, then the standard conception of the history of political thought is in error--political philosophy begins not with the primacy of the state over the citizen but with the affirmation of the individual's duty to act in accordance with his own careful determination of what justice demands.

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1998

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