Volume 27, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2021
Friends and Citizens in Plato’s Crito
A Revisionary Relational Reading
I propose a revisionary reading of Plato’s Crito focusing on the dramatic rendering of the friendship between Crito and Socrates, which I argue affords a model for political participation in a social contract. Their friendship models how citizens can come to be conventionally related to one another, and how they should treat one another internal to that relationship. This approach is apt for contemporary democratic theory, perhaps more so than standard interpretations of the political theory traditionally mined from the text, rather than drama, of the Crito. My account moves beyond questions of civility in deliberative democratic politics and deepens an account of how and why we ought to regard those with whom we disagree, but to whom we have nonetheless quasi-voluntarily bound ourselves within the same project of democracy. Friendship also addresses regard for those who have not previously received equal consideration within a putatively democratic social contract.