Why Socrates did not fear death
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Socrates has valid reasons to not fear death. He says, “Whether life or death is better is known to God, and God only” (CPQ 28). Since God has not told Socrates which is better, he decides that what the Athenians believe will suffice. When Crito suggests that Socrates escape and avoid death, Socrates asks Crito if the Athenians hold to living well, honourably and justly. Crito replies that they do and Socrates explains it is not just for him to escape prison and he must carry out his just agreements so he does not hurt the Athenian people.
He wants to set an example and he cares far more for living an honourable life as part of the community, than setting a bad example and doing the citizens an injustice by not abiding by their laws. Socrates’ personal reasons for not fearing death are reasonable and moral. Only a person who abides to the laws of the community with such dedication could be so fearless in the face of death. Socrates does not even worry about the world losing a great mind when he is dead. He only has concerns for the overall well-being of Athens. Socrates is a very honourable man in sacrificing his life to better serve his city and it is enough to say that in being honourable and knowing that he is doing the right thing, he has no reason to fear death.
When one has no reason to contemplate death because their life is not at risk, it is hard to determine if they will fear death when the time comes. Generally speaking, people fear what they do not understand. If one does not understand why their life is endangered or must be sacrificed it is likely that they will fear death. If a person has not achieved their goals in life, contributed in some way to the world or impacted the life of another person, they will not be so willing to give their life away. People like to believe that when they are sacrificing something, it is for the good of others or something else. It is not likely that someone will willingly give up their own life or face death willingly for no specific purpose.
If someone were to tell me that my life was in danger and there was a possibility that I would die, I would be afraid. I know that I have not experienced enough to satisfy my reason for being on Earth. I still need time to make mistakes, to grow, to choose who I want to be for the rest of my life. Until I have achieved my goals and made my mark on the world I will fear death. I know not of what comes after death and because it is unlikely that I will ever know (at least while I am alive), I have no reason to look forward to death and embrace it.
People that don’t fear death have either satisfied their personal reasons for being on Earth or simply don’t wish to be a part of the world anymore because there might be a better place after death. Most likely people that don’t fear death are quite old and have experienced a lot in their lifetime, terminally ill, severely depressed, suicidal or a combination of the few. If they don’t fear death they must believe that life has nothing more to offer them, and by dying, they will not be missing out on anything. Personally I do not know anyone that does not fear death, I can only suggest the kinds of people that might not fear it.