Typed preparation for class: Apology, Crito and Letter from …

Typed preparation for class: Apology, Crito and Letter from the Birmingham Jail, three quotes each, your reflections, connections, questions, and Works Cited page, stapled. Minimum of 3 quotes from each, 9 quotes minimum.

Works Cited

Plato. Crito. Translated by Benjamin Jowett, Project Gutenberg, 1999.

Plato. Apology. Translated by Benjamin Jowett, Project Gutenberg, 1999.

King Jr., Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The Atlantic. April 1963.


Quotations and Reflections


1. “Death is not an evil.” (Plato, Crito)

In the dialogue Crito, Socrates asserts that death is not inherently bad. He argues that it is only bad if it brings harm to the soul or if it prevents the fulfillment of one’s moral obligations. This quote raises questions about the value we place on life and whether fear of death should drive our actions.

2. “Doing wrong willingly is a far graver matter than suffering wrong.” (Plato, Crito)

Socrates suggests that acting unjustly is worse than being a victim of injustice. This challenges conventional notions of justice, as it implies that one’s moral character is more important than external circumstances. It also sparks reflections on personal responsibility and the choices individuals make in the face of adversity.

3. “Is it not the case that one should never do wrong at any time?” (Plato, Crito)

Here, Socrates poses a question about the nature of morality. He argues that one should never commit wrongdoing, even in response to wrongful treatment. This quote invites us to reflect upon the ethics of retaliation and whether it is ever justified.


1. “An unexamined life is not worth living.” (Plato, Apology)

Socrates, the central character in the dialogue Apology, claims that self-reflection and the pursuit of knowledge are essential for a meaningful existence. This quote prompts us to consider the importance of introspection and intellectual growth in our own lives.

2. “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.” (Plato, Apology)

Socrates humbly acknowledges his limited knowledge and emphasizes the value of recognizing one’s own ignorance. This quote challenges our society’s obsession with expertise and reminds us of the virtue of intellectual humility.

3. “For neither in war nor yet at law ought I or any man to use every way of escaping death.” (Plato, Apology)

Socrates rejects the idea of using any means to avoid death, even if it means compromising his principles. This quote raises questions about the importance of integrity and the choices we make when faced with extreme circumstances.

Letter from the Birmingham Jail:

1. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail)

Martin Luther King Jr. highlights the interconnectedness of justice and injustice. He argues that the fight against injustice should not be limited to specific locations or groups, but should transcend boundaries. This quote urges us to consider the importance of standing up against injustice regardless of its location or target.

2. “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail)

King emphasizes the necessity of active resistance in the struggle for freedom and equality. This quote challenges the idea that oppressors will willingly relinquish power and calls for the oppressed to demand their rights. It prompts us to reflect on the dynamics of power and the role of collective action in effecting change.

3. “Injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.” (Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail)

Here, King emphasizes the importance of bringing awareness to injustice and mobilizing public opinion. He suggests that change can only occur when injustices are scrutinized and the public is engaged. This quote prompts us to question how we can effectively expose and confront injustice in our own communities.

Connections and Questions

The writings of Plato and Martin Luther King Jr. share a common theme: the pursuit of justice and recognition of one’s moral obligations. Both Plato’s Crito and King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail grapple with questions of moral responsibility and the choices individuals make when faced with injustice. These works prompt us to reflect on the ethical dimensions of our actions and consider whether we have a duty to actively challenge unjust systems.

A question that arises from these texts is: What are the limits of personal responsibility in the face of injustice? Should one prioritize personal well-being or sacrifice it for the greater good? Additionally, how can individuals effectively confront injustice and bring about meaningful change?

These works also highlight the importance of personal reflection and the search for knowledge. Socrates in Apology advocates for self-examination, while King emphasizes the need to expose injustice to public scrutiny and engage in dialogue. This raises the question: How can personal reflection and dialogue contribute to the pursuit of justice?

In conclusion, the dialogue Crito, Apology, and the Letter from Birmingham Jail provide valuable insights into the concepts of justice, personal responsibility, and the pursuit of knowledge. These texts challenge us to critically reflect on our own moral obligations and the actions we take to address injustice in the world.