Crito Book Summary - Crito Book explained in key points

Crito summary

Brief summary

Crito by Plato is a philosophical dialogue that explores the moral obligations of a citizen to the state. It raises questions about the nature of justice and the importance of obeying the laws of society.

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    Summary of key ideas

    The Start of a Critical Dialogue

    In the book Crito by Plato, we are introduced to a dialogue taking place between two friends, Socrates and Crito, in a prison cell just days before Socrates’s execution. Socrates has been condemned to death by the Athenian court on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth. His friend Crito seeks to persuade him to escape and evade his impending execution. Crito sets forth numerous arguments in his attempt at persuasion, starting with the harm Crito himself will suffer, the public opinion and the fate of Socrates's sons.

    However, Socrates maintains that the opinions we should respect are those of the wise and not the unbalanced view of the many. He indicates that it is never just to commit an injustice, even in response to an injustice committed against oneself. He subtly rebuts Crito’s arguments by making a distinction between popular opinion and knowledgeable opinion, emphasizing the need to follow well-reasoned argument, no matter where it might lead.

    The Question of Securing Justice

    Delving further into the dialogue, we find Socrates employing an imaginary conversation with the laws of Athens to argue that he has made an implicit agreement to obey the laws by choosing to live in Athens. He insists that it would be unfair and disruptive to go against the verdict of the lawful jury, no matter its shortcomings. By evading the capital punishment, Socrates posits, he would be violating his principles and acting unjustly — thereby contradicting his life’s work committed to pursuing the philosophical truth.

    Moreover, Socrates maintains that choosing to escape would also lead to a life of unending trouble and disgrace, undermining any opportunity to live a fulfilling life. He further asserts that true philosophers should not fear death, but see it as a potential gateway to a greater wisdom and understanding beyond the confines of the mortal world.

    Facing Death with Dignity

    The third part of Crito centers around Socrates’s acceptance of his fate. He refuses to escape because he believes it is morally wrong to retaliate to injustice with another injustice. For Socrates, obedience to one’s principles and the laws of the city, are of utmost importance. He notes that he could have chosen to live in another city-state but chose to live, and by extension, die in Athens.

    Throughout the dialogue, Socrates remains calm and composed, genuinely unafraid of death. Instead of focusing on the fear of dying or the end, Socrates directs his life and interactions with others towards embracing knowledge, wisdom and the pursuit of a virtuous life.

    Epilogue in Wisdom

    As we approach the end of Crito, Plato reinforces through Socrates that living a good life is much more important than life itself. The underlying principle that guides all his actions is the belief that it is never right to wrong another, even in response to an injustice which has been suffered. Therefore, despite the opportunity for escape, he elects to face his upcoming execution in accordance with the law.

    In conclusion, Crito by Plato delves deep into questions surrounding justice, duty, friendship, and the relationship of the individual to society. It paints the picture of Socrates as an uncompromising seeker of truth, willing to accept personal harm rather than betray his principles and presents an influential text with enduring universal relevance about moral integrity and civic obligation.

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    What is Crito about?

    Crito is a philosophical dialogue written by Plato, which takes place in the prison cell of Socrates. The book explores the themes of justice, morality, and the role of the individual in society. Through a conversation between Socrates and his friend Crito, Plato examines the idea of obeying the laws of the state and the concept of civil disobedience. It raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of justice and the obligations of citizens to their government.

    Crito Review

    Crito (360 BCE) explores the moral dilemmas of an individual's duty to obey the law when faced with an unjust punishment. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It raises profound ethical questions about the relationship between the individual and society, challenging readers to consider their own beliefs and values.
    • By examining Socrates' reasoning and arguments, the book offers valuable insights into the nature of justice and the responsibility of citizens in a democratic society.
    • Through its engaging dialogue format, Crito brings philosophical concepts to life, making it a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating read.

    Who should read Crito?

    • Philosophy enthusiasts seeking to explore moral and ethical dilemmas
    • Those interested in Plato's theories of justice and the nature of law
    • Individuals looking to deepen their understanding of ancient Greek philosophy and its relevance today

    About the Author

    Crito is a philosophical dialogue written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It is set in the prison cell of Socrates, who has been sentenced to death. In the dialogue, Crito, a close friend of Socrates, tries to persuade him to escape from prison. However, Socrates argues that it would be unjust to disobey the laws of Athens, even if they are unjustly applied to him. The dialogue explores themes of justice, morality, and the duty of citizens to the state. Plato's Crito is considered one of his most important works.

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    Crito FAQs 

    What is the main message of Crito?

    The main message of Crito is the importance of obeying the law, even in unfair circumstances.

    How long does it take to read Crito?

    The reading time for Crito varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Crito a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Crito is a thought-provoking read that raises important ethical questions. It offers insights into the concept of justice and the relationship between the individual and the state.

    Who is the author of Crito?

    The author of Crito is Plato.

    What to read after Crito?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Crito, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
    • Philosophy for Life by Jules Evans
    • The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda
    • On Being by Peter Atkins
    • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
    • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
    • Do No Harm by Henry Marsh
    • Second Treatise of the Government by John Locke
    • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Russ Roberts
    • The Republic by Plato