In Platos Euthyphro, Crito and the Apology, we learn of Socrates highlycritical view of the democracy. Socrates believed that democracy was a flawedsystem because it left the state in the hands of the unenlightened and it valuedall opinions as equal. In the Apology, we see how Socrates believed it was hisduty to stand for the law and justice despite the wishes of The Assembly, andthis cold have cost him his life.
In Crito, Socrates states to obey the laws ofthe State, only if they are just. It could be said that Socrates views ondemocracy and justice is what ultimately led to his death. Socrates believedpoor leaders are chosen, simply on their basis of their rhetoric ability, not ontheir ethics or character. He opposed the efforts of the Sophists to teach theirstudents virtue, knowledge and rhetoric as practical subjects needed by citizensto participate in the institutions of Athenian democracy.Order now
His belief onknowledge and virtue was that these required “absolute definition” which wasto be attained through exhaustive philosophical dialogue and debate. He seemedto offend many Athenians with his negative dialectic method; revealingpeoples ignorance and inability to give definitions of truth and virtue. Hebelieved the citizens lack of knowledge made it impossible for thecitizens to vote properly for their leaders or for the leaders themselves toeven run. In the Apology, Socrates did not want anything to do with the ThirtyTyrants and he crossed them to the extent that his life might have been indanger, if they had not been overthrown. Socrates was against the trying of theadmirals from the battle of Arginusae.
He was the only one to refuse to doanything contrary to the laws. In his view it was his duty to stand for the lawand for justice despite the wishes of the Assembly, so he did, at risk ofprosecution or death. In Crito, Socrates believes that an Athenian is obligatedto obey the orders of the state or its officers, unless he considers thoseorders unjust, “in which case he may protest its injustice, but must consentto punishment if his protest proves unavailing. ” Socrates continued tohonor his commitment to truth and morality even though it cost him his life.
Inthe Euthyphro, Socrates asks “is the pious loved by the gods because it ispious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” (10A). This questioncan be restated as does the state prohibit this action because it is unjust, oris it unjust because the state prohibits it? Does this ultimately mean then thatactions become right or wrong because of societys approval or disapproval? Inthe Apology, Socrates states the only opinion that counts is not that of themajority of people, but rather that of the one individual who truly knows. Thetruth alone deserves to be the basis for decisions about human action, so theonly proper approach is to engage in the sort of careful moral reasoning bymeans of which one may hope to reveal it.