SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.34 special issueCommunication and Kinship. On “Koinōnia” and “Syngeneia” in Plato’s DialoguesThe Koinon Agathon of Plato’s Charmides author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




  • Have no cited articlesCited by SciELO

Related links

  • Have no similar articlesSimilars in SciELO



Print version ISSN 1016-913X

arete vol.34 no.spe Lima Jan. 2022 


Common Ground or Double Bind? The Possibility of Dialogue in Plato’s Crito

1University of Ottawa, Canadá,


Much recent scholarship on Plato’ Crito has revolved around the controversy about the relationship and possible compatibility between the arguments Socrates gives in his own person (SocratesS) and those he gives in the person of the Laws (SocratesL). By contrast, the relation between the arguments given by SocratesL and those given by Crito continues to be seen as uncontroversial: by the end of the dialogue, commentators agree, Crito has no choice but to concede to the force of SocratesL’s arguments. Against this traditional reading, this paper will argue not only that SocratesL’s arguments fail to secure Crito’s agreement, but also that two characters’ attempts to communicate end at an impasse that seems to leave little room for meaningful shared discourse -and may even undermine Crito’s belief in the possibility of meaningful speech. My interpretation is informed by Socrates’ account (at 49c9-e3) of the need for and nature of a “common ground” as a requisite for genuine dialogue. This passage, I argue, challenges the traditional analysis of Crito as the representative of a particular value system or a particular “type”, demanding, instead, a consideration of the effect of Socrates’ arguments upon Crito in light of a more robust view of the latter’s perspective. Such a reconsideration has consequences not only for our appreciation of the dramatic structure of the dialogue, but also for how we understand one of the dialogue’s central, if underexplored, themes: the belief in a shared logos and the psychagogic necessity and perils of testing that belief.

Keywords: Crito; pre-conditions of dialogue; agreement; perspective


Gran parte de los estudios recientes sobre el Critón de Platón han girado en torno a la controversia sobre la relación y posible compatibilidad entre los argumentos que plantea Sócrates a nombre propio (SócratesS) y aquellos que ofrece en nombre de las Leyes (SócratesL). Por el contrario, la relación entre los argumentos de SócratesL y aquellos planteados por Critón no produce, incluso hoy, controversia alguna: los comentaristas están de acuerdo en que al final del diálogo Critón no tiene más remedio que ceder ante la fuerza de los argumentos de SócratesL. En contra de esta lectura tradicional, en este artículo se argumentará no solo que los argumentos de SócratesL fracasan a la hora de garantizar un acuerdo con Critón, sino también que la búsqueda de comunicación por parte de ambos personajes termina en un callejón sin salida que parece dejar poco espacio para un discurso compartido con sentido -e incluso puede socavar la confianza de Critón en la posibilidad de un lenguaje significativo. Mi interpretación se construye a partir de la posición de Sócrates (en 49c9-e3) respecto de la necesidad y la naturaleza de un “suelo común” como un requisito para el diálogo genuino. Este pasaje, sostengo, desafía el análisis tradicional de Critón como un representante de un sistema de valores particulares o un “tipo” particular, exigiendo, en cambio, considerar el efecto de los argumentos de Sócrates en Critón a la luz de una visión más sólida de la perspectiva de este último. Tal reconsideración tiene consecuencias no solo para nuestra comprensión de la estructura dramática del diálogo, sino también para la forma en que entendemos uno de sus temas centrales, aunque poco explorados: la confianza en un logos compartido así como la necesidad y los peligros psicagógicos de someter a prueba dicha confianza.

Palabras clave: Critón; pre-condiciones de diálogo; acuerdo; perspectiva


Plato’s Crito, like many Platonic dialogues, makes dialogue itself one of its central issues, along the dangers that beset the attempt to share one’s own logos with another. Crito plays on the surface agreements and buried disagreements that arise in arguments concerning its core concepts of justice, virtue, harm and even agreement itself. Yet, unlike the typical “Socratic dialogue”, it never moves towards the explicit definition of these concepts. The interpreter is faced with the task of determining the relation between three different arguments presented by three different “voices”, each of which tackle the same question from a different vantage. The difficulty is increased by the fact that we witness only minimal, and often problematic, direct engagement between two of the “pairs” of voices, that of Socrates speaking in his own person and Socrates speaking in the person of the Laws (“SocratesS” and SocratesL) and that of Crito and SocratesL. The nature and degree of convergence or divergence between two of the three voices SocratesS and SocratesL has, in the last two decades, become a matter of ongoing debate1. By contrast, the relationship between SocratesL and Crito is seen as uncontroversial, at least in its general outlines. The consensus interpretation is as follows: SocratesS fails to reach Crito, either through the latter’s stubbornness or through his simple incomprehension. Thus, in order to reach his friend, Socrates introduces the Laws as an explanation or illustration of his own views, or (on an alternative reading) as a persuasive imitation of or substitute for his own views. This second attempt hits its mark: Crito has no choice but to concede to the force of SocratesL’s arguments.

Against the traditional reading, this paper will argue not only that Socrates fails to secure agreement from Crito on the injustice of escape from prison, but also that his attempts end at an impasse that seems to leave little room for meaningful shared discourse. My approach will differ from the traditional one in that it will not treat Crito primarily as a type, that is, a representative of a certain sort of philosophically incapable interlocutor (for instance, “the many”2, the money-lover3, the honour-lover4, the ethical traditionalist5). The type-based approach leads to a tendency to conflate the question of whether certain arguments would speak to an average representative of a particular value system with the question of whether such arguments speak to Crito himself. In taking a more robust approach not only to Crito’s perspective in this dialogue, but even to Socrates’ perspective, we do not simply gain a deeper sense of the dramatic structure of the dialogue as it concerns the dynamics between the two characters, but are also led towards a reconsideration of the dialogue’s themes. If, as I argue, the dialogue depicts a failure of logos, it may teach us something about the conditions under which the “conversion” of an individual soul may go wrong -so drastically wrong, in fact, as to sever that soul from its faith in discourse. Crito is central for understanding this process, since, among the three dialogues in which the title character appears6, it stands between his enthusiastic (and emotionally invested) interest in philosophical dialogue in Euthydemus and his complete detachment from all philosophical discussion (and near silence) in Phaedo, where he seems to embody the misology against which Socrates warns his followers in his final hours7.

Taking Crito himself seriously has the advantage of emphasizing the elements of tragedy that bear upon both Crito’s rhetorical and its philosophical significance. On my reading, the dialogue presents an “eleventh hour” failure of discourse between two interlocutors who are both admirable (in different ways) and highly motivated to communicate, but who are also hampered by fatal blind spots and presumptions. In this sense, it could be seen as tracking Crito’s loss of faith in discourse in Crito, the movement of one particular soul from the tentative belief that the engagement in philosophy trumps other goods (Euthd. 306d2-307a3) to its “recognition” that, while not won over by any specific argument, it is defeated by argument itself (Cri. 54d10).

This paper falls into two parts. In the first part, I offer an analysis of the concept of κοινὴ βουλή at 49c9-e3. In this crucial passage, Socrates frames the possibility of agreement between interlocutors in terms of what I will call “dialogic koinōnia”, a capacity to join together in the give and take of meaningful discourse. The passage emphasizes the need for a background agreement or harmony (thus, “koinōnia”) that seems not to be accessible through the give and take of reasoned argument alone; at the same time, the paradigmatic expression of this background agreement seems to be the engagement in dialogue (thus, “dialogic”). The passage invites us to think about the about the different voices of the dialogue, first and foremost, as different perspectives rather than (merely) as different arguments.


The account of “dialogic koinōnia” at 49c9-e3, as dialogue’s most detailed treatment of the structure and basis of agreement, seems an obvious starting point in asking whether Socrates’ arguments seem likely to secure Crito’s agreement (however reluctant) on the injustice of escape8. Genuine agreement, Socrates tells Crito, requires the possession of a “common ground” (κοινὴ βουλή) that both underpins and is expressed in meaningful discussion and deliberation. In this section, I’ll show how the account of a common ground at 49c9-49e4 offers a framework for considering the relationship between the different voices in the dialogue. First, Socrates’ conception of a κοινὴ βουλή is that of a shared basic agreement that not only results in certain views and ways of thinking, but is also, to some degree, the result of such views. This implies an approach to overlapping or compatible viewpoints that is more complex than a single shared value, or even a shared value system. Second, the κοινὴ βουλή implies a basic outline for a model of perspective understood in terms of the interrelation of attachments, beliefs and modes of reasoning informed by and informing a bedrock commitment or value. As such, it offers a starting point for evaluating the compatibility of viewpoints in the dialogue.

The arguments of Crito, divided on the basis of the different voices or “characters” that presents those arguments, appear in three relatively discrete sections. The first is Crito’s attempt to convince Socrates to escape from prison and his impending execution. If we leave aside Socrates’ abortive attempt to establish dialogue at the beginning of the passage (44c6-d10), this section is an uninterrupted monologue that runs from 44b5-46a9. The third argument, from 50a5-54d2, is the Laws’ response to Crito’s argument, delivered by a Socrates who professes to act as an intermediary under the influence of quasi-daimonic presences. This section, too, is largely monologue-based. In the middle, running from 46b1-50a3, we get Socratess’s response to Crito’s argument, delivered in his own person and through a cross-examination of Crito. Throughout this section, he hints at the role of “dialogic koinōnia” in meaningful communication through his repeated exhortations to Crito that they must examine the issue “in common” (κοινῇ). At 49c9-e3, the argument seems to reach a point of crisis, leading to a direct discussion of the conditions required in order to make such a shared investigation possible. Socrates informs Crito that dialogue is impossible between those who disagree with respect to the “no-retaliation principle”: the position that we should never harm (ἀδικέω) another, even when they have harmed us. This principle, he says, is the necessary common ground (κοινὴ βουλή) and shared view (κοινωνέω) that must be present before genuine discussion and deliberation -i.e., dialogic koinōnia- can happen. The commitment to this “common ground”, or the rejection of it (presumably due to incompatible commitments, dispositions, etc.), is bound up with deep affective attachments that make it impossible for those who do not share a common ground to evaluate one another’s argument on its own terms. Rather, “they necessarily despise (καταφρονεῖν) one another’s views when they examine (ὁρῶντας) one another’s deliberations (βουλεύµατα)” (49d4-5)9. The mutual evaluation of one another’s deliberations is a cognitive activity (as suggested by ὁρῶντας and even the root, φρονεῖν, of καταφρονεῖν). Nonetheless, that evaluation is bound up with affections and pre-existing attachments. καταφρονεῖν -when used, as here, to imply rejection of something- is infused with the kinds of social emotions (contempt, disdain) that go beyond questioning a particular premise or inferential move: it suggests that the parties’ responses are grounded in some core attachment akin to a socially conditioned response. It may be that even when such an attachment is wholly rational and results in wholly rational deliberations, it still precludes the ability to enter into and engage with the “logic” of certain lines of affectively determined thought. We might expect that Socrates’ own attachment to the no-retaliation principle is wholly rational in this way, yet he implicitly includes himself among those who necessarily despise the lines of thought of those with whom he does not share a common ground.

He even, perhaps, demonstrates this when he dismisses three crucial elements of Crito’s own argument concerning the justice of escape, namely, family, reputation and money. He doesn’t argue for their irrelevance, but rather takes it as part of his starting point that these issues can have no possible bearing on the question (48c3-d3). We may have good reason to suspect that he has a rational basis for his exclusive focus on higher order rational concepts (meaning, in this case, that the justice of an action can be determined independent of any questions which are not essentially part of justice itself). Yet his dismissal, which is as passionate as it is psychologically unhelpful, suggests a deeply felt attachment: he describes those who (like Crito) concern themselves with such things as belonging to the mindless and changeable majority, those who are as apt to want to kill a man in one moment and bring him back to life in the next (48c4-6). In this connection, it’s telling that both the common ground (βουλή) and the deliberations that take it for their starting point (βούλευµα) share the general meaning of resolution, will, or purpose. There is some hint of circularity here: those features of character and cognition that can arise from deliberation, but may also determine the shape that deliberations take. Socrates’ κοινὴ βουλή pre-emptively excludes certain concerns from involvement in his deliberations. Yet this exclusion seems likely to be rooted in some earlier deliberations, which would then have had a role in shaping his κοινὴ βουλή. Such a circularity prevents the common ground from being wholly fixed and decisive: the deliberations that arise from the κοινὴ βουλή also inform and help to determine that same ground. This means that we can’t predict an individual’s response to an argument solely through a generic statement of their fundamental commitment(s).

Nonetheless, given the stress that Socrates places upon the necessity of the common ground, it seems that, if we wish to determine whether agreement (or even meaningful disagreement) is possible between individuals, a good starting point may be to ask whether they seem likely to possess a common ground of shared conviction. Without such a common ground, individuals cannot come together in dialogue. Moreover, Socrates’ elaboration of the conception of a common ground or shared basic view offers an implicit account of the basic structure of an individual perspective as grounded in a bedrock commitment. This commitment (a “common ground”) both gives rise to and must be understood in relation to a set of “deliberations” that involve the interconnection of rational and non-rational elements. This is helpful in making sense of whether the interaction between two characters reveals the possibility of a common ground; it provides us with a way of thinking about the relationship between their fundamental commitments (which might have a certain generality or even near-universality) and the way in which each interprets and experiences those commitments (which involve qualifications that may be essential to the way that the fundamental commitment functions in practice). Agreement on some beliefs and deeply-held values is not necessarily an indication that two individuals share a common ground: the shared view that functions as the common ground is different from a discrete belief statement, since the former can’t be understood apart from the deliberations with which it is bound up. This is supported not only by the circularity of the relationship between the βουλεύµατα and the κοινὴ βουλή, but also by two unusual features of the latter. First, in addition to calling it a “common ground”, Socrates also speaks of the no-retaliation principle as a “shared basic view”10 - specifically, he speaks of it as a shared view (κοινωνέω) which serves as a starting point (ἡ ἀ???ρχή). This latter qualification seems to imply that this particular shared view plays some essential role in informing the orientation to the world of those who hold it, and thus in shaping their worldview as a whole. Second, this particular opinion, as Socrates cautions Crito, is extremely difficult to accept, so that few people hold it or can be convinced to adopt it (49d1-3). We might even suspect that Socrates has deliberately chosen the no-retaliation principle over other, less contentious formulations, that might serve to indicate same basic view. For instance, Crito and “the majority” would be apt to agree with a claim such as “The most important thing is the health of the soul”, even with the further explanation that the health of the soul is in its adherence to justice11. The contentious character of the no-retaliation principle has other functions as well: for instance, it breaks (briefly) into Crito’s habit of agreement. But in making the no-retaliation principle into the bedrock commitment, Socrates also emphasizes the specificity of the perspective that holds it. The principle is not compatible with just any set of beliefs, values, modes of thought: rather, those who hold this “shared basic view” will overlap on many other such elements. In this way, it points towards the idea that the common ground that makes dialogue possible will, under ordinary circumstances, involve a shared world view that structures one’s orientation to dialogue; whether two characters share such a world view won’t usually be determinable through agreement or disagreement on isolated statements of beliefs or value such as Crito and Socrates achieve through much of the middle section of the dialogue. Such a model of the “shared basic view” also implies an analogous model of perspective on which an individual’s bedrock commitments are interdependent with the deliberations that both arise from and inform that bedrock commitment. This model of perspective provides a lens through which to examine how Socrates and Crito meet in dialogue or fail to do so. It’s true that the model is rendered somewhat more complex by a circularity that mirrors the dynamic interdependence of the κοινὴ βουλή and the associated βουλεύµατα. Dialogic koinōnia is determined on the basis of whether or not two characters share the same bedrock commitment (or at least compatible ones). Those who do not share the same common ground or bedrock commitment are incapable of making sense of one another’s thoughts, modes of thinking, or expressions of thought (in word and action). Yet since the bedrock commitment is rarely expressed in so contentious a formulation as the no-retaliation principle (or one that so clearly implies a fuller worldview that might support it), it’s often difficult to tell whether those who articulate their basic commitment in the same way do in fact share the same basic commitment. As a result, a comparison of bedrock commitments can only be treated as a starting-point. In order to discover whether the two commitments are, in fact, compatible, we need to examine what the rational and affective results of those commitments are; and we understand this, in a Platonic dialogue, not merely through the beliefs they espouse, how they argue for them, and the language they use, but also through how they respond to these things in others, what they echo or deepen, what they misunderstand or overlook.

Thus, the conception of a “common ground”, as presented at 49c9-e4, turns out to offer two things. First, it offers a way of thinking about one of the major interpretive issues of Crito, that is, the problem of agreement or disagreement among characters. On its model of “dialogic koinōnia”, an individual can engage in reflective discourse with another individual only if they share the kind of common ground that acts as the precondition for meaningful debate. This suggests an alternative to the usual method for analysing the question of whether one character might give credence to the arguments offered by another. It suggests that, beyond the question of whether two characters agree on certain premises or tend to use certain inferential or rhetorical moves, we should consider whether the two characters seem to share the kind of common ground, or overlapping bedrock commitments, that would allow for “dialogic koinōnia”.

Second, the passage implicitly offers us a basic model for thinking about perspective in terms of a bedrock commitment that both give rise to and is informed by interrelated sets of beliefs, attachments, etc., where these are manifested through the way in which an individual engage in communication with others. By both comparing the characters’ bedrock commitments (in broad strokes), and by seeing how these manifest in and are qualified by specific convictions, modes of thought, and styles of response, we can go some way towards determining whether the characters share the kind of common ground that would allow them to engage in genuine dialogue. In doing so, we may be able to distinguish between passive acquiescence to an argument and genuine agreement (or at least potential future agreement)12.


Read in this light, Crito can be seen as dramatizing the two friends’ failure to find a common ground from which one might secure genuine agreement from the other - a failure that arises through their inability to establish any common ground between their bedrock commitments. This inability is manifested in the kinds of attachments, beliefs and modes of reasoning they reveal not only through their arguments taken independently, but also through those arguments understood as an attempt at engaging with one another’s arguments.

As widely noted in the literature, Crito subscribes to the “kinship ethics” value system, where justice requires one to aid and protect one’s family and friends, and to strike back against those who have wronged them13. This is made explicit in the section of Crito’s argument that appeals directly to justice and virtue (45c5-46a4). Here, Crito treats Socrates’ acquiescence to execution as an act of injustice on the latter’s part because: (1) it will gratify his enemies; (2) it will blight his son’s lives; (3) it will, both in the eyes of the majority and in fact, implicate his friends in the same injustice that Socrates himself is committing; (4) it will involve a culpable indifference to self-protection on Socrates’ part. In general terms, then, Crito’s bedrock commitment might be identified with his attachment to family and friends and an associated conception of justice and right action as duty to blood relations and staunch loyalty and reciprocity in longstanding friendships. In Socrates’ case, the bedrock commitment is to the health of the soul, that is, its freedom from corruption by unjust or wrong actions. Thus, he argues not only that committing injustice harms the soul, that life is not worth living with a soul corrupted by injustice, but also that living happily, living nobly and living justly are to be identified with one another (47c8-49b8)14. The bedrock commitment of the Laws is, at least on the surface, the unity of the polis: their arguments concern the threat of their destruction, and that of the polis, when private citizens like Socrates fail to regard their pronouncements as authoritative (κύριος) (50a6-b6). Among these three bedrock commitments we can already see tensions. Crito’s fundamental commitments are both relational and personal -that is, what it is for something to be just or unjust is determined from him through the context and relational bonds, where this relationship ultimately links to one’s sense of self or what is “one’s own” (ties to do with one’s physical body -i.e., blood, offspring- and to do with personal feeling and longstanding shared experience). The fundamental commitments of the Laws are relational and impersonal; they involve the duties imposed by a different kind of context (i.e., through a citizen’s obligation to his city). These duties are independent of the intimate bonds created by blood and by the duty to reciprocate generosity and loyalty, but they do involve an implicit reciprocity of another kind, arising from the privileges the laws of the city yield to a citizen both indirectly, by holding the city together, and directly, by providing the citizen with preferential treatment over the foreigner15. Socrates’ fundamental commitments are non-relational and impersonal -they are not impacted by the duties created by relationships or context, nor by the interests of self or sense of what is “one’s own”. His notion of justice is universal and unqualified by the relationship between agent and object: it demands that we harm “no person” (οὐδένα ἀνθρώπων), without exception. Yet despite these tensions, even Socrates and Crito -whose commitments appear to be the furthest apart of the three- are able to agree on a surprising number of issues concerning justice, the soul, and the nature of a good life. Only the introduction of the no-retaliation principle finally draws out their disagreement over those same values on which they achieve such ready accord -most obviously, of course, disagreement arising from their diverging bedrock commitments and the different notions of justice that they imply. The kinds of disagreements that arise between Crito and SocratesS differ substantially from those that arise between Crito and the SocratesL, yet they share a crucial blind spot and divergence in orientation, specifically, around the role and value of personal emotion in inference and decision-making. In each case, the disagreement amounts to a failure of dialogic koinōnia, where this divergence, as revealed in attempted communications, confirm the absence of the kind of common ground upon which meaningful discussion and deliberations depends.

For both Crito and Socrates, the bedrock commitment both gives rise to and is qualified by a particular set of interrelated beliefs, desires, and attachments that is expressed in their thought processes and the modes of reasoning they give credence to. The incompatibility between these two commitments leads to, and is revealed in, a tendency to “miss the point” in their responses to one another’s arguments. This does not necessarily imply a misunderstanding of the other’s main claims and inferences. It may also occur through failure to engage with what matters most in the argument, or its motivating core.

Socratess opens his argument with a statement of his mode of decision-making that is, at the same time, a signal that he does not share the bedrock commitments of kinship ethics. His primary allegiance, he tells Crito, is to the principle (ὁ λόγος) arrived at through consistent, rationally structured arguments (λογίζοµαι) that remains unshaken regardless of the circumstances in which he finds himself -he honours (τιµάω) and gives pride of place (πρεσβεύω) to those arguments that seem to him best (51b6-7). It is these, above all, that he follows and obeys. Here, his wording stresses the difference between his values and Crito’s. In using two words that belong more naturally to relations of kin and community -the correct disposition towards one’s parents, elders, or guest-friends- he implicitly identifies the source of division between Crito’s approach to argument, and his own. Crito, on the other hand, simply cannot credit this degree of fidelity to one’s logoi, nor can he take seriously Socrates’ admonishment that what they agreed was true in other contexts should be binding (or even relevant) when it comes to questions of what to do in such an extreme case (46d2-5)16. For Crito, it is his affections and duties to specific individuals that ground his primary allegiance, so that the value he assigns to consistent, rationally structured argument changes in relation to the pragmatic context in which a given question appears. This is apparent when we compare his relative enthusiasm for and attentiveness to such arguments in this dialogue, as contrasted with his responses in Euthydemus. In the latter dialogue, Crito, who is trying to make up his mind how to best educate his son, defers to Socrates’ expertise and shares in the latter’s conclusions. In the context of Crito, where the decision involves both greater immediacy and higher stakes, and where it concerns not the education of young men but the “practical world” of fully mature adult men -that is, politics and the courts- he calls upon Socrates to defer to him (44b5; 45a4; 46a8-9)17. In this context, Crito’s mode of thought becomes nailed to the specific, the personal, the relationally contingent. He frames his argument in terms of deeds, outlining in precise detail the pragmatic issues associated with escape, carefully accounting for various practical objections and contingencies, ranging from the costs of paying off blackmailers to the need for friends to ensure Socrates’ safety in a new city. Yet when it comes to the more general principles through which Socrates proposes to address the question of the justice or injustice of escape, Crito becomes cavalier about the agreement or disagreement of his own logoi -that is, he cannot seem to credit the importance of the consistency, independent of personal relations, upon which structured rational argument (and Socratic justice and deliberation) depends.

SocratesS, similarly, cannot engage with what is, arguably, the structural and motivational core of Crito’ arguments: the fact that Socrates’ death will be for him the loss of a great friend. This is the point that opens his argument (44b5-8), and it plays a key role in its associative links and rational elisions, as we’ll see. SocratesS simply does not respond to this emotional core, directly or indirectly, in his own arguments. Nor would it be easy for Socrates to respond from within his own framework of reasoning. Crito’s argument is composed in such a way as to favor the immediate communication of urgency and grief over a more logical arrangement -this emotional pressure seems to lie behind many of the idiosyncratic connections, and syntactical quirks18. Yet if Crito’s argument is inferentially shaky, what he offers is also not the kind of rhetoric taught by sophists. His speech aims to persuade, but its approach to persuasion applies only to one specific individual in a specific relational and situational context. His argument is therefore full of personal proofs of devotion and demands for reciprocal regard19, all of which draw attention both to a different notion of consistency and a different guiding allegiance than the Socratic allegiance to rationally structured argument. Such proofs are not quite explicit -yet his entire detailed plan for Socrates’ escape gives the impression that Crito is enlisting all that he has in his effort to save his friend- including not only his fortune but his other interpersonal bonds (45c3-4). He tries, it’s true, to downplay the costs that he will incur in smuggling Socrates out of Athens, and the risks that he runs (45a6-b1)20. He also urges Socrates to ignore such risks, since they are what is required of Crito if he is to act justly (45a1-4); yet in exhorting Socrates to follow his advice, he calls, in turn, on his friend’s sense of justice (45c5-6), suggesting that he probably hopes that Socrates will recognize what he is willing to risk for friendship’s sake, and will respond in kind. Crito’s model of consistency, then, involves interpersonal reciprocity rather than logical agreement; such a model is in line with a mode of thinking informed by attachment-based emotions, and, at the same time, by a bedrock commitment to kinship ethics that reinforces the centrality of personal relationships. This is perhaps the most consistent feature of Crito in the dialogues -and not only in his relationship to Socrates. His interpretation of the conversation relayed by Socrates over the course of the Euthydemus is pervaded by its possible implications for his son’s education21, so much so that the dialogue ends in Socrates’ subtly castigating Crito for attempting to secure the most valuable goods for his sons, without experiencing them for himself (306c5-6). Crito’s presence in Phaedo is restricted to what we should probably take as attempts to ease Socrates’ distress (as he imagines it) by facilitating his conversation with other friends, mediating between Socrates and the interruptions from bodily matters such as his family (60a5-6) and the guard (63d5-e3). Crito may be a paradigmatically “upright” citizen whom the “many” recognize as one of their own, yet his experience of the interpersonal bond is strong enough to provoke some truly unusual interpretation of the dictums of kinship ethics. For instance, his sympathy with Socrates does not seem to inspire him take up philosophy for himself. It does, however, lead him to feel (if only in the latter’s presence) that he has erred in his understanding of his duties to his son. He regrets having focused his attention on passing on wealth and securing good marriages for his sons, in other words, fulfilling the role of a good father as prescribed by traditional kinship ethics22. He would have served his sons better, he feels, if he had turned his energies to teaching them to care for philosophy (306d2-307a3).

Again, the force of interpersonal emotions in Crito’s argument, including his sense of loss, is something that Socrates’ argument in Crito tactfully brackets. He addresses just one assumption of Crito’s argument, namely, that we should consider the views of the majority in our deliberations. This concern does, it’s true, keep cropping up in Crito’s argument. Yet it’s often difficult to draw a clear line between the accusations that Crito imagines the “many” making against him and Crito’s own self-accusation. Crito speaks in detail of different reasons that his failure to save his friend might “seem” (τῇ δόξῇ) particularly damning, such as the minimal effort it would have taken to change the course of events (46a1-3) and the many opportunities that presented themselves to do so (44b9-44c4). He tells Socrates that he is ashamed (αἰχύνοµαι) that he might appear responsible for leaving his friend to such a fate (45e-46a1). It seems unlikely, here, that we can restrict the meaning of αἰχύνοµαι to shame at how he might be perceived by the “many” outsiders who do not know the two friends well (44b9-45c2); Crito’s grief, and his preoccupation with all the times and ways he might have rescued his friend, suggests that the word also encompasses guilt at the way the situation appears to Crito himself. His reasoning, in which relationality and relational emotions play such a central part, weaves together three mutually reinforcing levels of judgement that Socrates might prefer he kept separate: (1) how things appear to others; (2) how things appear to Crito himself at this moment; (3) how things are. Socrates’ argument against the rationality of judging right and wrong with reference to the views of the many might challenge the some of the reasoned inferences employed in Crito’s argument, but it does not do so in a manner that seems likely to appeal to Crito’s own mode of reasoning, specifically, the entrenched principles of thought and judgement that weaves these three levels together.

Socrates’ focus on general rational principles (46b4-8) leaves him similarly unable to unpack the kinds of personal, context-specific, associative linkages through which Crito runs together issues of justice with those of money, reputation, and family. According to Crito’s kinship ethics, of course, the interests of one’s family bear upon the justice or injustice of an action, but he also has more personal reasons for being preoccupied just now with these three factors. First, it seems likely that he has some ties to Socrates’ family and has an emotional stake in their wellbeing23. This seems suggested, for instance, by the specificity of his concerns for them in his argument: while recognizing the kinds of threats faced by a household that has lost the protective influence of an adult male presence, he also worries about the impact that Socrates’ death will have on his sons’ educations (45c10-d5). Second, the events surrounding Socrates’ trial and sentencing has made him acutely aware of a how a bad reputation can endanger one’s survival (44d1-5) and, by extension, threaten the well-being of those who depend upon one. Third, the necessity of large quantities of money to bribe the guards and others involved in Socrates’ escape, silence any blackmailers, and set Socrates up in a new city has, one might speculate, acted as a forceful reminder that there are, similarly, situations in which considerable wealth is required if one is to protect oneself and one’s kin. The highly context-specific, relationally-bound, and emotionally-charged nature of these unstated “arguments” cannot be address from the vantage of more general rational principles. Unable to sift through these serious disagreements for footholds of possible agreement, SocratesS, in his argument for the injustice of escape, simply dismisses the latter three considerations out of hand. The high level of abstraction associated with Socrates’ allegiance to consistent rational principles24 also produces the converse problems, hiding from view the disagreements that underlie the series of agreements established between Socrates and Crito throughout the middle section of the dialogue. Both believe that injustice harms the soul (47d5-6), and both recognize the primacy of justice and virtue (49b7); both identify living justly with living nobly and well (48b7). In the end, Socrates must take extreme measures in order to draw out the conflict implicit in their apparent agreements. He introduces the no-retaliation principle -a view so obviously at odds with Crito’s basic commitments that the latter finally becomes hesitant in his assent. He then makes this principle the one necessary agreement upon which all the others depend.

As the no-retaliation principle emerges from Socrates’ argument, Crito, without ever explicitly disagreeing, begins to qualify his responses, adding, “it seems” (φαίνεται) or “I suppose” (δήπου)25. Socrates takes this hesitancy a sign for him to pause in the argument and, in the central passage at 49c9-e3, he repeats his exhortations to Crito to engage fully in the argument. He reminds him that he should be sure that he isn’t agreeing contrary to his own real convictions. If Crito disagrees, Socrates says, he must say so, and present his arguments. But this exhortation is, in fact, a double bind, since Socrates also adds that no meaningful discussion can take place between those who disagree with respect to this principle. Socrates may hope in this way to recall Crito to himself. He has repeatedly reminded Crito of previous conversations in which they agreed on certain principles which are at odds with Crito’s arguments for escape (e.g. 46b4-c2; 46a7-b2); he now exhorts Crito not to give a merely verbal agreement (49d1-2). Such an agreement would sever Crito’s spoken logos from his own passions and actions26, and, in doing so, would constitute a rejection of the kind of respect for the logos that Socrates describes as his primary allegiance. This respect, after all, not only involves active use of rational argument to arrive at consistent principles, but also involves following through, in word and action, on those principles (46b4-8). Yet the immediate crisis seems to have thrown Crito back on more fundamental commitments to relational ties, leading him to abandon their reasoned agreements. Now Socrates exhorts Crito to reason and speak in alignment with his own genuine convictions, regardless of the interpersonal cost.

The apparent effect is to reduce Crito to near-silence. Socrates’ attempt to continue their line of argument comes to end a few lines on, after an attempt to draw out a practical consequence from the no-retaliation principle: he cannot escape from prison, since it would involve doing harm and failing to hold steadfast with what was agreed to be just. Crito can neither assent to nor deny this statement. In fact, he seems unable to process it at all. Instead, he says, “I can’t answer your question, Socrates. I don’t understand”27 (50a4-5).

Now Socrates brings the Laws onstage. While scholarship remains divided on whether the Laws reflect Socrates own views, commentators seem to agree that they are an appropriate and convincing response to Crito’s objections, and thus, a successful one28. The Laws’ polis-father analogy co-opts the most important relationship in kinship ethics, turning the obligation to the polis into a more fundamental version of the obligation to a parent. At the same time, it presents Socrates’ duty to the Laws as (in part) a duty of reciprocity, since Socrates is in debt to them for his education and even (via the laws of marriage that brought his parents together) his existence (51d1-e1). Their model of justice, unlike Socratess’s, shares with Crito’s such concerns as money, reputation, and children, all of which are both issues treated by legislation, and preoccupations of the “many” who make the laws and pass judgement in accordance with them. Unlike SocratesS, then, the Laws are equipped to answer Crito’s arguments concerning the ill effects that his friend’s execution would have on friends and family in these areas; they argue that, in these very same areas, the ill effects of escape would be far worse (53a10-b3; 54a2-b2).

The Laws might seem, then, to create a common ground between themselves and Crito by subsuming his bedrock commitment to kinship ethics to their commitment to the unity of the polis. Kinship ethics emphasized bonds of duty produced by certain sorts of personal relations -the family bonds grounded in blood, and the friendship bonds grounded in reciprocal acts of financial generosity. Bonds of affection and fellow-feeling played no essential role in this system29. Yet Crito’s perspective on this common bedrock commitment involves a depth of emotional engagement with individuals that isn’t prescribed or even necessarily approved by the system. The arguments of SocratesL, in failing to speak to this pervasive presence in Crito’s argument and orientation, evince some of the same blind spots we identified in the arguments of SocratesS. Crito’s sense of his duty to Socrates, and of Socrates’ duty to him, seems driven more by ideas about debts incurred through emotional investment than those incurred through financial investment or blood ties. The Laws’ appropriation of kinship ethics, by contrast, emphasizes relational duties based on more traditional, tangible investment and on the dependency relations of parent-child/city-citizen. They do not concern themselves with emotions arising within those relationships. In their central kinship ethics-based argument, they co-opt the most important relationship in that value system -the duty to a parent- but they do so in the manner of an orator (50b8). Specifically, they appeal to the general values and social emotions of outrage or approbation associated with this relationship, while separating it from its ground in particular interpersonal ties. This is necessary step, of course, if they are to draw upon the responses associated with this tie even while shifting and enlarging its focus from duties to specific individuals to duties to the city itself. It is also necessary to the rhetorical strategies employed by an orator, who must appeal to a wide and somewhat varied audience of individuals to whom the orator usually has no single or immediate personal bond. This, however, puts them at odds with Crito’s own mode of thought, since the latter leans away from universal duties grounded in an individual relationship with a generalizable character (here, the universal duty to one’s particular parent) and towards idiosyncratically personal duties grounded in specific relationships. This can involve a somewhat idiosyncratic application of the rules of kinship bonds. The “friendship” aspect of kinship ethics emphasized longstanding duties created between those not linked by blood through acts of financial generosity and the resultant sense of gratitude and obligation to reciprocate. Crito’s own argument, however, makes no attempt to appeal to Socrates’ sense of what is owed for past financial generosity. It seems plausible to think that such generosity exists, based on the ease with which the Socrates of Phaedo assumes that Crito will deal with the costs of his funeral and his sacrifice to Asclepius; we might see further evidence in Socrates’ implicit expectation -voiced by the Laws- that Crito (or “[Socrates’] friends”) will handle the costs of educating his sons (54a8-10). Crito’s attempts to sway his friend do not allude to any such past generosity; they do, however, shamelessly exploit present and future feelings arising from his personal bond with Socrates. While he appeals to the way that Socrates’ actions will make them both appear in the eyes of the many, the shame (ἀισχρός) that he attempts to inspire in Socrates is not simply the shame of being seen by the mass of people as violating justice and virtue. Rather, he attempts to use the ties of friendship to give that shame its full force: he says that he is himself ashamed on Socrates’ behalf (45e2), not only because others will perceive the latter’s actions as shameful, but because Crito himself concurs with this assessment (45c5-46a4). His emphasis on his own grief and loss (44b5-8) may also be part of his rhetorical strategy, or it may simply be an expression of his own preoccupations. Whatever role grief might serve in Crito’s arguments, it is evidently a major part of how he experiences and interprets his duty to Socrates. We see this not only in the way he engages in conversation, but also in the way that he doesn’t. For instance, at the dialogue’s opening, we learn that Crito has been watching a sleeping Socrates for “a long time” (πάλαι). Despite the sense of urgency that brings him to his friend’s cell so early, Crito does not wake his friend; he is reluctant to disturb Socrates’ peaceful rest given the distressing reality that awaits him when he wakes (43a1-b6). There is not only grief here, but also genuine tenderness of (misplaced) fellow-feeling. Such feelings seem to augment Crito’s inability to recognize the extent of the gap between himself and Socrates in their respective conceptions of the latter’s best interests30. The central role that Crito gives to emotion, then, in his decisions, inferences, and rhetoric, and, more generally, in his interpretation of the bonds and obligations involved in kinship ethics, emphasizes the degree to which the grounding in a bedrock commitment can be qualified by the emotional responses, desires, and modes of reasoning that arise from it. We might even wonder to what degree Crito’s commitment to kinship ethics inspires his orientation to his relationships, and to what degree his orientation to his relationships serves to cement his bond to kinship ethics.

If we consider the character of Crito simply in terms of the traditional value system he represents, the arguments of SocratesL seem likely to succeed. By appropriating key values associated with kinship ethics, they subsume the bedrock commitment to (a generalized version of) kinship ethics into the bedrock commitment to the unity of the polis, thus creating a kind of common ground that would allow for meaningful discussion and agreement. Unlike the arguments of SocratesS, those of SocratesL speak to a number of features of kinship ethics found in Crito’s own argument): they acknowledge preoccupations such as family, money, and reputation, and they appeal to a reciprocity-based value system. Yet they ultimately fail to establish a common ground between their bedrock commitment and Crito’s. This is made apparent if we consider the relation between Crito’s views and those of the Laws’ not simply as a relationship between arguments, beliefs, and/or value systems, but also as a relationship between different perspectives. This requires us to take Crito’s commitment to kinship ethics as involving more than the subscription to a traditional value system, but, rather, as an orientation towards and interpretation of that value system through a set of responses, desires, and modes of reasoning characterized by attachment-based emotions. Like the arguments of SocratesS, those of SocratesL fail to speak to the role of emotional attachment in Crito’s orientation to kinship ethics. The dialogue’s ending might be thought to reflect this second failure to find common ground. As with the arguments of SocratesS, those of SocratesL end with Crito facing a double bind. In the former case (49c9-e3), Socrates stressed that Crito must speak in accordance with his real views on the no-retaliation principle, adding that those who did not agree on this principle could not truly engage one another in meaningful deliberation. A second double bind arises immediately after the speech of SocratesL. Socrates says that the force of the Laws’ arguments has deafened him to all else: if Crito argues against them, he will do so to no purpose. He then urges Crito to speak, if he thinks that he can achieve anything by doing so (54d3-9). Within the dramatic context, this looks like Crito’s last chance to change Socrates’ mind. Crito responds with his final line of the dialogue: “I can’t say anything” or “I have nothing to say” (54d10)31.

There are significant differences between the double bind that Crito finds himself in at 49c9-e3 and the one he faces at 54d. What the two passages share in common is the way in which they crystallize the problem that Crito and Socrates face throughout the dialogue. Both friends are motivated by commitments that make communication a matter of urgency. In Socrates’ case, this is the commitment to dialogue and, likely, to the care of Crito’s soul; in Crito’s case, this is his commitment to bonds of interpersonal duty and affection. Yet both are, in some sense, deaf with respect to one another’s arguments, and dumb with respect to their own. Even when Socrates, through SocratesL, attempts to engage Crito with arguments that compromise on his own commitment to more abstract principles and reasoning, his speech show some of the same blindspots displayed by SocratesS. It’s true that SocratesL addresses many of the general principles found in a bedrock commitment to kinship ethics. Yet these arguments neither create a bridge between Crito’s perspective and Socrates’ own32, nor bring the former to a place where he must concede, however unwillingly, the injustice of escape33. This becomes particularly apparent when we analyse the exchanges between the two characters in the light of the model of “dialogic koinōnia” offered at 49c9-e3. This model invites us to consider the relationship between the arguments of two different “voices”/characters in terms of the perspective implied by each -with perspective understood as a bedrock commitment to a value or principle, along with the judgements, attachments and modes of thought that arise from and qualify that commitment. If we look at the relationship between the arguments of Crito and SocratesS/SocratesL as a relationship between different perspectives, we restore to Crito some of the dimensionality that the “type-based” analysis of the dialogue typically denies to him. In doing so, we also come to recognize the failure of Socrates and Crito to establish a common ground. This failure is an important one. Crito spends the first third of the dialogue in a flood of speech, and the final third as the nearly silent observer of a speech given by SocratesL . He ends the dialogue by stating that he has nothing to say, and his actions in Phaedo seem to bear this out. If we see at Crito’s gradual abandonment of logos in the light of two friends’ sincere, but misguided attempts to establish a common ground, we may also gain an enriched understanding of the conception of misology in Phaedo in light of Crito’s conception of dialogic koinōnia. At the same time, the recognition of Crito as depicting the failure of communication between two sympathetic and motivated interlocutors also adds to the experience of the dialogue’s tragic dimension. The lack of a shared logos between the two characters means that Crito’s grief at the loss of his friend may, in the end, be well-founded, even from Socrates’ perspective. The threat of Socrates’ absence takes from Crito the tentative concern for philosophy that the latter describes in Euthydemus as a result of his friend’s presence; Socrates’ attempts to reawaken that concern in Crito only serve to further undermine his belief in the value and efficacy of logos. If Phaedo shows the tragedy of Socrates’ death, while undermining the very beliefs that would render that death tragic, Crito brings back the tragic dimension of that death, by considering how it leads one of the more susceptible members of Socrates’ circle towards misology.

Referencias Bibliográficas

Bostock, D. (1990) “The Interpretation of Plato’s Crito”, in: Phronesis, v. XXXV, 1, pp. 1-20. [ Links ]

Burnet, J. (2019) Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, and Crito, Oxford: Oxford University Press. [ Links ]

Dover, K. J. (1994) Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle, Indianapolis: Hackett. [ Links ]

Emlyn-Jones, C. J. & Preddy, W. (2017) Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Phaedo, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [ Links ]

Gonzales, F. J. (2018) “Why the Minotaur is Misology”, in: Cornelli, G., Robinson, T. M., Bravo, F. (eds.), Plato’s Phaedo: Selected Papers from the Eleventh Symposium Platonicum, Baden: Academia Verlag, pp. 90-95. [ Links ]

Harte, V. (1999) “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, in: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, v. LXXXI, 2, pp. 117-147. [ Links ]

Hoffpauir, J. M. (2020) Between Socrates and the Many: A Study of Plato’s Crito, Lanham: Lexington Books. [ Links ]

Johnson, C. J. (2013) “Socrates’ Political Philosophy”, in: Bussanich, J., Smith, N. D. (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Socrates, London: Bloomsbury Press, pp. 233-256. [ Links ]

Kahn, C. (1989) “Problems in the Argument of Plato’s Crito”, in: Apeiron, v. XXII, 4, pp. 29-43. [ Links ]

Lane, M. (1998) “Argument and Agreement in Plato’s Crito”, in: History of Political Thought, v. XIX, 3, pp. 313-330. [ Links ]

McCabe, M. M. (2000) Plato and His Predecessors: The Dramatization of Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [ Links ]

Miller, M. (1996) “‘The Arguments I Seem to Hear’: Argument and Irony in the Crito”, in: Phronesis, v. XLI, 2, pp. 121-137. [ Links ]

Nails, D. (2002) The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. [ Links ]

Plax, M. (2000) “Crito in Plato’s Euthydemus: The Lover of Family and of Money”, in:Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought, v. XVII, 1-2, pp. 35-90. [ Links ]

Pritzl, K. (1999) “The Significance of Some Structural Features of Plato’s Crito”, in: Dorter, K., Van Ophuijsen J. M. (ed),Plato and Platonism: Studies in Philosophy and The History of Philosophy, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press. [ Links ]

Shipton, K. M. W. (1979) “A Good Second-Best: “Phaedo” 99b ff.”, in: Phronesis, v. XXIV, 1, pp. 33-53. [ Links ]

Smith, N. D. (2014) “Sons and Fathers in Plato’s Euthyphro and Crito”, in: Ancient Philosophy, v. XXXIV, 1, pp. 1-13. [ Links ]

Vlastos, G. ( 1991) Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press . [ Links ]

Weiss, R. (1998) Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato’s Crito, Oxford: Oxford University Press . [ Links ]

1For the Laws as an expression of Socrates’ own views, see, among many others: Burnet, J., Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, and Crito, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924; Bostock, D., “The Interpretation of Plato’s Crito”, in: Phronesis, v. XXXV, 1 (1990), pp. 1-20; Vlastos, G.,Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991; Kahn, C., “Problems in the Argument of Plato’s Crito”, in: Apeiron, v. XXII, 4 (1989), pp. 29-43; Johnson, C. J., “Socrates’ Political Philosophy”, in: Bussanich, J., Smith, N. D. (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Socrates, London: Bloomsbury Press, 2013, pp. 233-256; Smith, N. D., “Sons and Fathers in Plato’s Euthyphro and Crito”, in: Ancient Philosophy, v. XXXIV, 1 (2014), pp. 1-13. For the Laws as diverging from Socrates’ views, see: Miller, M., “‘The Arguments I Seem to Hear’: Argument and Irony in the Crito”, in: Phronesis, v. XLI, 2 (1996), pp. 121-137; Lane, M., “Argument and Agreement in Plato’s Crito”, in: History of Political Thought, v. XIX, 3 (1998), pp. 313-330; Weiss, R., Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato’s Crito, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998; Harte, V., “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, in: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, v. LXXXI, 2 (1999), pp. 117-147 (the Laws as diverging from Socrates’ views).

2Pritzl, K., “The Significance of Some Structural Features of Plato’s Crito”, in: Dorter, K., Van Ophuijsen J. M. (ed),Plato and Platonism: Studies in Philosophy and The History of Philosophy, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1999; Hoffpauir, J. M. Between Socrates and the Many: A Study of Plato’s Crito, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2020.

3Plax, M., “Crito in Plato’s Euthydemus: The Lover of Family and of Money”, in:Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought,v. XVII, 1-2 (2000), pp. 35-90.

4Weiss, R., Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato’s Crito, 1998.

5Harte, V., “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, 1999; Lane, M., “Argument and Agreement in Plato’s Crito”, 1998.

6Excepting Socrates’ passing references to him in Ap.

7Phd. 88c-91c. For the danger of misology as a motivating feature of discussion throughout Phd., see, e.g. Shipton, K. M. W., “A Good Second-Best: “Phaedo” 99b ff.”, in: Phronesis, v. XXIV, 1 (1979), pp. 33-53; Gonzales, F. J., “Why the Minotaur is Misology”, in: Cornelli, G., Robinson, T. M., Bravo, F. (eds.), Plato’s Phaedo: Selected Papers from the Eleventh Symposium Platonicum, Baden: Academia Verlag, 2018, pp. 90-95.

8There are multiple types of agreement discussed, implied or illustrated in Cri. For our purposes (and for Socrates in this dialogue), the relevant kind involves the verbal expression of genuine conviction about what is true. By the same token, “meaningful discussion” is limited in scope to the kinds of speech that might yield agreement and disagreement of this sort from one’s interlocutor. Speech between those who lack a “common ground” does not have this quality.

9ἀνάγκη τούτους ἀλλήλων καταφρονεῖν ὁρῶντας ἀλλήλων τὰ βουλεύµατα.

10At 49e1, Socrates asks Crito if κοινωνεῖς τῆς ἀρχῆς (49e1). While this is generally translated as something along with the lines of “do you share this opinion/view as a starting point?”, the implication, in context, seems to something along the lines of “do you share this fundamental [world]view?”.

11Harte, V., “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, 1999, p. 132.

12It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the applicability to the Platonic corpus in general the applicability of this very demanding model of the starting point for meaningful debate. In this connection, however, it may be relevant that the model of dialogue with which Crito presents us does not allow us to leave a space to differentiate dialogue as such (whether that involves λέγω, λογίζοµαι, etc.) from action-oriented deliberations which require a common ground. The discussion of the conditions of dialogue at 49c9-e3 does, it’s true, tend to favour βουλεύω and its cognates, but the continuity between βουλεύω and other forms of speaking and thinking is ensured by Socrates’ continuing assimilation of argument and speech of all kinds to action and the agreement to act in certain ways (e.g. 46b4-c2; 46a7-b2; 49d1-2). See Lane (1998) on this aspect of Socrates’ understanding of meaningful speech in the Cri. Cf. Lane, M., “Argument and Agreement in Plato’s Crito”, 1998.

13See especially the lengthy discussion of the issue in Vlastos (1991). Cf. Vlastos, G.,Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, 1991. For “kinship ethics” in general, see Dover, K. J., Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994, pp. 180-184.

14Harte, V., “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, 1999, pp. 130-132.

15See Dover, K. J., Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle, 1994, pp. 281-282. This is distinct from the point that there is an asymmetry between the citizen and the Laws, since we can’t run together equity and reciprocity here (pace Smith, N. D. “Sons and Fathers in Plato’s Euthyphro and Crito”, in: Ancient Philosophy, v. XXXIV, 1 (2014), pp. 1-13). The Laws claim that Socrates owes him everything that he has, including his entire way of life, and even life itself. This makes his debt to them as automatic and unqualified as the debt of a child to the parent who gave them life.

16Crito’s failure to take in this point is perhaps best illustrated at 48d8-9.

17For Crito’s success in this “adult world”, see Nails, D., The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2002, p. 115. Beyond Socrates’ explicit (and exaggerated) claims about the philosopher’s incapacity in such a world throughout, e.g., Ap. and Grg., we have Crito’s own view of Socrates’ inept handling of the arraignment and trial at Cri. 45e1-46a3.

18On Crito’s “overwrought and occasionally confused syntax” in this speech, see Emlyn-Jones, C. J. & Preddy, W., Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Phaedo, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017, pp. 198-199.

19For demands for reciprocal regard see, e.g., 44e2-3; 46a4-5.

20Possible consequences for aiding Socrates in his escape could have ranged from fines to the disenfranchisement and exile mentioned by the Laws (53b1-3), to execution (Burnet, J., Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, and Crito, 1924, p. 261).

21So, e.g., Hoffpauir, J. M., Between Socrates and the Many: A Study of Plato’s Crito, 2020, p. 25; pp. 12-28.

22Dover, K. J., Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle, 1994, pp. 173-174.

23See also Pritzl, K., “The Significance of Some Structural Features of Plato’s Crito”, 1999, p. 64.

24At least some of these problems associated with this exclusive focus on higher level abstractions are limited, in the Cri., to the arguments of Socratess. These, however, would seem to be the arguments that most faithfully reflect his own perspective and mode of reasoning in this dialogue. This holds true both if the Laws simply offer, for Crito’s benefit, a more vivid illustration of Socrates’ own beliefs, and if they are in conflict with those beliefs, perhaps requiring him to alienate himself from his own perspective in order to articulate them (Miller, M., “‘The Arguments I Seem to Hear’: Argument and Irony in the Crito”, 1996).

25See also Harte (1999) for the significance of these qualifications. Cf. Harte, V., “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, 1999, pp. 117-147.

26On the consequences of such a separation for one’s ability to engage in philosophy, see the discussion of “absences” within the “late dialogues” in McCabe (2000) passim. Cf. McCabe, M. M., Plato and His Predecessors: The Dramatization of Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. In “earlier” dialogues, such a danger is vividly represented by Callicles in the Grg. and Protagoras in the Prt.

27οὐκ ἔχω, ὦ Σώκατες, ἀποκρίνασθαι πρὸς ὃ ἐρωτᾷς· οὐ γὰρ ἐννοῶ.

28On the division among commentators, see n.1. Among those who see the Laws as created purely for Crito’s benefit, the readings range from those who offer the explicit claim that Socrates has succeeded in reaching Crito (e.g. Miller, M., “‘The Arguments I Seem to Hear’: Argument and Irony in the Crito”, 1996, p. 135): “[Crito] emerges from the conversation with his acceptance of the rule of law restored and, as a basis for this, the commitments he has long shared with Socrates to justice and to reason reaffirmed”; see also see also Weiss, R., Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato’s Crito, 1999) to those who simply treat them as, in their nature, undermining a person’s ability to hold to the kinds of positions Crito espouses (e.g. Harte, V., “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, 1999, p. 135: “the Law both incorporate and challenge Crito’s” so that “it is the Laws, rather than Socrates, who give Crito and alternative system of value he cannot dispute”; see also Lane, M., “Argument and Agreement in Plato’s Crito”, 1998).

29Dover, K. J., Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle, 1974, pp. 276-277.

30See Weiss (1998) who argues that both Crito and Socrates, in their desire to help one another, fail to recognize the extent of their divergence on fundamental issues. Cf. Weiss, R., Socrates Dissatisfied: An Analysis of Plato’s Crito, 1998, pp. 81-82.

31οὐκ ἔχω λέγειν.

32As argued, e.g., by Miller, M., “‘The Arguments I Seem to Hear’: Argument and Irony in the Crito”, 1996.

33As argued, e.g., by Lane, M., “Argument and Agreement in Plato’s Crito”, 1998, p. 330; Harte, V., “Conflicting Values in Plato’s Crito”, 1999, p. 141.

Creative Commons License This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License