When The Waters Calm Down
“When the waters rise, the fish eat the ants, and when the water recedes, the ants eat the fish. The flow of water decides who eats whom.” This Native American proverb actually varies according to what people attribute to the meanings of fish and ants. Both fish and ants are one of the smallest but actually the most functional parts of states or organisms similar to state structures. But, the reason for the existence of the state is people, human community, public. But, the people are neither ants nor fish in this example. We have been without water for a long time. For years, we have been prey to fish when we swim in the sea and to ants when we go ashore. We were expelled from both the water and the soil when we said, “Let the water not be polluted, the soil not pierced”. The water is polluted, the soil is pierced; Those who prepared this destruction together, the day has come and they have come together. Let’s go back a little more, when Plato was still a student of Socrates, if we go just hours before Socrates’ death, it seems that this rule would not change again. Fish and ants would make a favorable agreement with each other and decide the flow of the water. In the discussion mentioned in Crito, one of Plato’s dialogues, it can be said that Socrates and those who commit crimes similar to Socrates’s against the state structure — especially as Socrates mentions: “… no man will survive who genuinely opposes you or any other crowd and prevents the occurence of many unjust and illegal happenings in the city” (Plato, Five Dialogues 36) — are actually water. Whether those who rule the state are fish or ants, or those who obey the state and allow this course to protect their own interests in their mismanagement, whether they are fish or ants, As long as Socrates and his derivatives, fish will die in thirst and ants in the water. That is, despite the idea that a good and moral individual, the way of thinking of Socrates, should obey the rules set by the state for the well-being of its citizens and social order, considering that the state puts them for public order and welfare, the state always does not act as a parent figure who is benevolent and considers its citizens. I am of the opinion that the idea that whoever was running the state at that time was thinking about their well-being outweighed.
In Crito, Socrates chose Crito, his student, of the same age and very wealthy, as a player for this defense. Crito comes to Socrates to help Socrates escape or be sent to a good place in exile. Although this thought is with all the good intentions of Crito, the idea of what people think of Crito predominates here. Crito thinks that if Crito and other friends of Socrates did not try to save Socrates, all people would look at them badly and say that they could not save Socrates in this wealth and power. I thought it illogical the moment I read it, as Socrates would later disprove this argument. In the dialogue, the main theme is the responsibility of those who will call it loyalty to the law or obedience to the law. Socrates says that we should not care about the opinions of those who are not competent in the subject to be considered and decided in the first place. Because those people are not competent in this subject, it is very difficult for them to give the correct answer. However, an opinion can be obtained from a person who is competent in that subject, and even if Socrates is convinced, he can comply with this person’s ideas. Before the discussion between Socrates and Crito about begins, Socrates tries to instill in Crito not to care about the opinion of the others because of this. Going back to the main theme, towards the end of the defense, he convinces Crito by infusing the idea of law, which ceased to be the arguments of Socrates, who passed through the debate, and became the party of the discussion, into his speech very well. There comes a moment towards the end of the dialogue, when Socrates continues: “Let’s say, just as we were about to escape, the Laws and the State were to stand in our way and ask us…” Plato brings these new actors into the discussion with a very convincing personification; it is as if they are speaking directly, not from Socrates’ mouth, and from this point they take over the flow of the dialogue and lead it to the end. They convince Socrates, and therefore Crito: to flee would be dishonorable and unwise, contrary to their civic duty.
Crito’s strongest argument is the idea in 45c (Plato 48): Crito suggests that Socrates will help his enemies make mistakes by doing what they want. Socrates’ answer to this argument is that it would undermine Laws that were actually just. In this dialogue between Crito, who sees being on the side of unjust people as the same as being on the side of just laws, and Socrates, who chooses to be on the side of just laws rather than being on the side of unjust people, although the atmosphere seems to prevail as if the laws are speaking for themselves, it is necessary to mention the human relationship with the law because people make the laws. I don’t have a dissenting opinion that unjust people will make just laws. They enact in general what is desired by their party. In this dialogue, I sense a cursory glance at the laws and the understanding of law. Saying this would be a heavy and limitless criticism, but with very basic examples, Socrates convinced Crito. “Should a man do what he has agreed to be right, or should he deceive another?” Socrates applies the question to the law. In practice, what he agrees on in practice is the idea that laws that protect the public, provide education and seek their rights. Of course, one does not oppose the laws that he thinks to be so, but how true it is to think so in every instance is debatable. Because the person thinks pragmatically, unconsciously tries to justify himself. Who knows, maybe Socrates struggled so much with the law not to do this. What I mean above is that if the laws are just and people are unjust, but they both want the same thing, then Socrates seems to be in a stalemate. If Socrates stays in prison, he will take the side of those who wrongfully accuse him. If he escapes, he will act against just laws. Ultimately, it was decided that it was better to obey the law than to take sides against people, and the dialogue ended.
When looking at the historical process, the state structure has been a necessary institution for the stability and development of the society, as well as to avoid the chaos environment. It shows the feature of the law and the laws as the building blocks of the state in the state structure. In the dialogue of Crito, Socrates mentions that the punishment of crime is in accordance with the law, that the law orders are also in accordance with the law, and that the laws and the law are an indication of the commitment to the state. If he escapes from prison, he will have betrayed the laws and the law and will not be a good citizen. Because there is a very basic idea here: Laws are made for the good of citizens and social order, every citizen with this aim wants to obey and be obeyed, the legislator is the person or persons who are competent in the state structure and chaos, and they are drafting laws to prevent this. Socrates is one of those who think so, and if he violates the law while he is in this thought, he will have committed a crime and will act in contradiction to his own character while trying to explain concepts such as morality, virtue and justice. This is based on the idea of the social contract. Plato talks about the idea of social agreement, which Roussea will give this name later, by making Socrates speak. The issue of the social contract is an ongoing debate since the existence of humans; for someone with religious beliefs, considering the worldly debates that broke out after the apple issue even between Eve and Adam, and how the conflict between Abel and Cain ended with murder, the idea of a social contract is actually a good idea even for two people. Optimists and pessimists among modern age philosophers are in favor of the idea of social contract on two different bases. This is a valid idea for both Hobbes, who says that man is man’s wolf, and Roussea, who expresses this with the title of natural contract. Socrates, who is referred to as the wisest person, also believes that there are abstract bonds between the state-individual-society established either with chains or threads. The social contract bond is established with chains because people have to obey it, they have to live by these rules. This is done with threads because it will ensure people’s full commitment and ethical compliance if they think it’s healthy for them and the rest of society to live their lives with the full benefit of the existence of this idea. In short, the idea of state structuring and the social contract, which is the basis of it, is useful and healthy, provided that both the rulers and the ruled are for a common purpose for public order and human development. In the Crito dialogue, this common purpose and these institutions lie in Socrates’ refusing to escape by defending them and accepting death and the punishment given to him.
However, the idea of the state and the concrete state structuring are often not the same. First of all, Socrates’ decision of allegiance to the state is wrong in this respect. Secondly, while the idea of social contract was established to be beneficial for the triangle of individual-society-state, it is observed that this contract is complied with because the idea of social contract exists in Crito. That is, since the rules that Socrates obeys are formally law and state, the essence of these rules in terms of justice and social contract is empty. First, the fact that Socrates didn’t run away and his way of thinking isn’t exactly a problem for me, but I think the problem starts with the punishment of the wrongful crime. The crime committed by Socrates is the accusation arising from the hatred of Meletus and the others towards Socrates (Plato, Five Dialogues 25). The same accusers say that the penalty for Socrates’ crime is also death. Even if the jury decides with very close votes in Apology (Plato, Five Dialogues 39), the penalty for socrates is death. But Socrates is not really guilty, he did nothing in the literal sense of these accusations. In other words, he has been wrongfully accused and it is also a crime to accuse someone unjustly and to slander him. Socrates’ arguments are morally correct when they consider both as immutable concepts in the relationship of crime and punishment. However, when I think about it, I don’t know how accurate it is to use Socratic method in his own concrete case, since Socrates’ crime is not a crime. The mistake made during the foundation caused the collapse of a philosophical building, and here also caused the death of Socrates. In fact, the death of Socrates is not something to be feared in itself (Plato, Five Dialogues 33). He will even be able to continue testing people, as he considers death as sleep or a transition (Plato, Five Dialogues 33). But it is not fair for him to be innocent and to be punished for an unjust crime. His view of justice is from crime to punishment. If he had thought of a way from punishment to crime, maybe he would have thought that he had received an unfair punishment by thinking in reverse and would have said that this was against the law and laws of the state he was attached to, or Crito could have convinced Socrates like this.
Secondly, as someone so committed to the idea of the social contract, Socrates should have thought things through in more detail. The social contract is more about how people create a mechanism called the state than the relationship of people with the state. The cogs of this mechanism are individuals, and individuals are quite inclined to make subjective decisions. In other words, the laws and persons coincide with the argument of the conditions of the period. This overlap has been going on since Socrates. In my opinion, although Crito thinks more simply and, because he is a student, he copies the philosophy of Socrates a bit and does not seem to add anything from himself, but when considered in more detail, I think that it is more correct than Socrates’ philosophy in his escape. The main feature of this system is that those who use it do not have toys, and people do not go beyond the rule of natural social contract by making arbitrary decisions. People come together to form a social agreement so that this structure does not arise and an order is established. This agreement comes from the intangible to the tangible through laws and statutes and the order that enforces them. Here a paradox arises, just like the paradox of the liar. The paradox of the liar, the person who tells the lie has already told the lie, has convinced the other person; Those who cannot tell a lie and are caught are labeled as a liar. Here is the same example. The unjust covers injustices so beautifully that people think that every action for their own benefit is done for the benefit of the social contract, for public power. But in the Crito, Socrates sees commitment to the state, that is, commitment to the social contract, the same as those who are at the head of the state, those in power. This may be due to the fact that the heads of state always think that they make just and right decisions for the state. But for someone who knows that he is not really guilty unjustly, I think it would be much more correct and easier to refute this for Socrates, who adheres to the concept of social contract. The law is not all laws and laws, but neither are those who apply them. When it is synthesized with the idea of social contract, law takes a pragmatist form and benefits people. For Socrates, the idea of the social contract was simply synthesized with the trio of right, law and laws. It did not look at who applied them and the conditions of the concrete case. This essay deals with the comparison between the social contract and the understanding of law in Socrates’ non-escapism, and the ideal understanding of social contract and law in my mind, and finds Socrates’ escape both more beneficial for other people in terms of social contract and Socrates’s social contract by not obeying the law as an individual of the society. It aims to show that infringement is not the same thing.
To sum up, it is the human being who gives the meanings of concepts such as social contract, law, right and law, and fills them in, who is the reason for the existence of these concepts. A human being who wants order can do very different things when each person wants his own order. As long as those at the head of the state think about their own interests and those who are silent about them remain silent for their own interests, Socrates’ not running away for the sake of concepts such as justice means nothing and can be nothing but applying double standards. In an article I don’t remember where I read it, it was said:
“One of the elders of the Cherokee tribe speaks about life, love, and marriage:
“There are two wolves within us, and between them a terrible war. one of the wolves fears, anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, lies, it represents superiority and selfishness. The other is; pleasure, peace, love, hope, sharing, generosity, serenity, humility, kindness, helpfulness, friendship, it represents understanding, compassion and faith.”
“Which wolf will win?” one of the youngsters asked and the old man answers briefly: “You feed.”
This is the same Hobbes “Man is the wolf of man.” It is a different version of the word. These two words, uttered without knowing each other, mean a lot about the inner world of man, the state and relations between states, and the concept of selfishness. Here the definition of justice in republic comes into play: the strong acting as if they would appear next to the weak and eliminate inequalities and injustices. Trashymachus summarizes this idea by saying “Justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger.” (Plato, Republic 14). If Crito could persuade Socrates to flee, justice might cease to be an advantage for the strong. It can be seen that in the death of Socrates, Thrasymachus correctly defined justice. As for my final question, if fish and ants survive is determined by the flow of water, which ones would survive if Sorates escaped?
Plato, and Grube G M A. Five Dialogues. Hackett Pub. Co., 2002.
Plato, and Grube G M A. Republic. Hackett Pub. Co., 1992.