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On the other hand, the Socrates of Plato’s Crito takes a slightly different approach to the highest goodness. Toward the beginning of Crito, Socrates remarks that “the good life, the beautiful life, and the just life are the same” (Plato 42R). To this end, the highest good for Socrates involves living responsibly and thoughtfully at all times and regardless of the context of one’s circumstances. Socrates puts this idea of the highest goodness into action by refusing to flee his death sentence in Athens. Socrates makes the argument that in being an Athenian citizen, he has taken an oath to follow the rulings of Athenian law, regardless if such a law is used to condemn him to death. In defense of his responsibility to the rule of law, Socrates bemoans us to “not value either your children or your life or anything else more than goodness,” (Plato 46L) or, other words, living thoughtfully and responsibly.In weighing both of these arguments for the highest good against one another, I must say that while I do not inherently disagree with Socrates’s argument, I find Aristotle’s account of the highest good to be more compelling. This is because in Plato’s Crito Socrates only vaguely lays out a general philosophical conception of what it means to live a good life, whereas in Aristotle’s own conception of the highest good he lays out a structured argument for what such goodness entails, namely that the highest good must be something which is worthy of pursuing for the sake of itself, which for Aristotle is embodied in the actualization of happiness. In this light, I find Aristotle’s account of goodness more compelling than Socrates’s account because it is structured in a clear and logical manner. Though I will also qualify my remarks by saying that I do generally sympathize with Socrates’s conception of goodness; I just find it less compelling than Aristotle’s competing conception.


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