In Crito, Socrates was an independent thinker and strong leader who was punished and jailed for his views. Yet, when in captivity, he appears to acquiesce to the superiority of the law. He was willing to die rather than engage in civil disobedience, as a true revolutionary would. Is it true to say that Socrates was a leader pushing his society to think and question?  If so, why did he roll over and submit with his life to obey laws he knew were not right? 

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In submitting his life for what he believed, Socrates was able to push his society to think and question.

The act of submitting his life represents Socrates' commitment to his duty. Crito argues that Socrates should escape. However, to do so violates Socrates' sense of an honorable existence. Socrates argues...

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In submitting his life for what he believed, Socrates was able to push his society to think and question.

The act of submitting his life represents Socrates' commitment to his duty. Crito argues that Socrates should escape. However, to do so violates Socrates' sense of an honorable existence. Socrates argues that one of the basic elements that must govern human existence is the way we live our lives: "The really important thing is not to live, but to live well . . . And . . . to live well means the same thing as to live honourably or rightly.” In Socrates's mind, it would not be honorable for him to escape. It would violate the rules of Athenian society, and to do so would mean living a life that is far from the ideal. As a result, he reasons that evading social punishment through wrong means is an act of wrong and thus must be rejected:

Our real duty . . . is to consider one question only. . . . Shall we be acting rightly in paying money and showing gratitude to these people who are going to rescue me, and in escaping . . . or shall we really be acting wrongly in doing all this? If it becomes clear that such conduct is wrong, I cannot help thinking that the question whether we are sure to die, or to suffer any other ill effect . . . if we stand our ground and take no action, ought not to weigh with us at all in comparison with the risk of doing what is wrong.

When determining an act's nature, Socrates looks at the act itself, and not its consequences. The act of evading the law's punishment is wrong. Therefore, when confronted with an action that runs "the risk of doing what is wrong," Socrates rejects it and sacrifices his life.

I would suggest that Socrates's actions get people to think. Socrates sets an example others are compelled to follow. In living life with the idea that “It is never right to do a wrong or return a wrong or defend one’s self against injury by retaliation," Socrates demonstrates how the laws must supersede all else. They are more powerful than the individuals who might be ineffective in administering the duties associated with these institutions. Thus, Socrates suggests that we are not justified in retaliating against authority, even if the people who represent it are wrong. Instead, he suggests that we must be examples of purity, showcasing the transformative power of what can be as opposed to the mundane reality of what is. This example can motivate people to think and create change because they are provided with a vision of justice that can transcend one of injustice.

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