Is it more important to live well, rather than live at all? Socrates was seemingly convinced that life a life without meaning, a life that leaves behind no legacy, or a life devoid of focus, is a life unjust and of no honor or purpose. While Socrates was in prison, awaiting execution for crimes he did not commit, he stated just that: "the really important thing is not to live, but to live well (Crito 48b). Socrates and his elder friend and mentor, Crito, are in the midst of a very important conversation/ debate regarding the justice of a proposed escape. As the discussion moves deeper and deeper, Socrates is able to reason life down to that one solitary statement. .
Socrates outlines his views very well in Crito, and he is thorough in both explaining and supporting his arguments on life-worth and the morality of escaping punishment. Socrates begins by asking Crito what "the truth" really is. And he explains to Crito that the truth is nothing more than "what we have always said. Whatever the popular view is, and whether the consequence is pleasanter than this or even tougher, the fact remains that to commit injustice is in every case bad and dihonourable for the person who does it" (49b). And as Socrates also says, to live an honorable and just life (which he has already said is the only life worth living) one must never commit an injustice, even when an injustice has been consummated upon them. Furthermore, Crito agrees that neither shall a man commit an injury on another, even if they have been injured themselves (49c). Socrates continues by proposing that "Both in war and in the lawcourts and everywhere else you must do whatever your city and your country commands, or else persuade it that justice is on your side; but violence against mother or father is an unholy act, and it is a far greater sin against your country what the law says is true" (51c). As Socrates stated before, the truth is the popular view.