EQ Preston Bost
Inmodern day society, the idea of what a good man varies from person toanother. In other words, there are many opinions about what exactlyit means to be a good person. Various authors have given their ideasabout what being a good man is in their literary works and sometimessome ideas might not be in with others .This essay will discuss thedisagreement in the idea of being a good man between Plato andKimmel, in Crito and Guyland respectively. The arguments given byCrito as he tries to convince Socrates to flee from the prison,contrast to what Kimmel thinks a good man should do, through hisassessment of the men living in ‘Guyland.’ The overall approachof Kimmel about how good man should behave is more convincingcompared to what Crito suggests be done especially in situations thatseem to compromise their masculinity.
Critois a dialogue written by Plato about two friends Crito and Socrates,who debate about the best plan of action for Socrates, who is in theprison waiting for his death sentence to come. Crito is portrayed asa good friend to Socrates evidenced by his making time to come visitSocrates and creating a plan that could help his friend escape fromthe prison, which means evading death. Through their dialogue it isclear that Crito has been trying to convince Socrates to escape “…mybeloved Socrates, let me entreat you once more to take my advice andescape” (Plato). Crito brings up his argument which shows that forhim being a good man means standing up for his friends whenever hecan and believes that the rest of the people will treat him withdisgrace if Socrates dies. Crito says “…people who do not knowyou and me will believe that I might have saved you if I had beenwilling to give money, but that I did not care. Now, can there be aworse disgrace than this…” (Plato).
Asthe dialogue continues, it is clear that Socrates is still notheading to Crito’s advice which pushes him to back up his pointswith more statements that illustrate what he thinks a good man shoulddo. He tactfully brings up Socrates children as prominent victims oftheir father’s death by telling him “No man should bringchildren into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end intheir nurture and education” (Plato). Crito continues to tellSocrates that his actions are of cowardice and not manly “But youare choosing the easier part, as I think not the better and manlier…”(Plato).
Critocontinues with his argument and points out that if Socrates does notescape, Crito and the rest of the friends will be taken by the restof the public as men lacking in courage since the matter is somethingthey would have prevented. “…and the end of all, which is thecrowning absurdity, will seem to have been permitted by us, throughcowardice and baseness, who might have saved you…if we had beengood for anything and we did not see how disgraceful, Socrates, andalso miserable all this would be to us as well as to you” (Plato).This is the last argument Crito gives as he tries to convinceSocrates that escaping is the most honorable and manly decisionbefore Socrates presents his opposing points to which Crito onlyresponds “ I have nothing to say Socrates” (Plato), whichindicates that he is still convinced that his way is how a good manshould act.
Kimmelin Guyland presents the modern man who thinks that being a good manand the idea of a real male are one and the same, which hastranslated into them acting in accordance to what their peers wouldapprove (Kimmel 47). Kimmel presents cases of young men some incollege and some already working after graduating with an aim toexplain the habits and behaviors of men in the modern society. Theexamples of young men interviewed portray their life as ideal towhich Kimmel disagrees, “ In this topsy-turvy, Peter-pan mindset,young men shirk the responsibilities of adulthood and remain fixatedon the trappings of boyhood, while the boys they still are struggleheroically to prove that they are real men despite all the evidenceon the contrary” (Kimmel, 4). The men described in Guyland are menwho think that acting the same as their peers presents the ideal man“Directionless and often clueless, they rely increasingly on theirpeers to usher them into adulthood and validate their masculinity”(Kimmel, 43).
In‘Guy Code,” Kimmel points explains that young men in society arebound by a code that expects them to act courageously and inmasculine ways as opposed to taking a decision that will have themjudged by the public as cowards. He explains that in every communitythere is an expected form of masculinity that men are expected toconform to, which in his view “ Every single man will, at somepoint in his life, “fail to qualify.”…every single one of uswill feels…”unworthy, incomplete, and inferior”…from thesefeelings of inadequacy and inferiority that we often actrecklessly…all as an attempt to repair, restore, or reclaim ourplace in the sacred box of manhood” (Kimmel, 55). From this view itis clear that Kimmel does not agree with the guy code of men inGuyland and their approach to life.
Thediffering point is clear, Crito in his arguments against Socratesdecision not to flee, presents the characters of a man as one whoacts courageously and takes risks that ensure his honor and dignityas a man is preserved. It is for this reason that he points out toSocrates how he will fail as a father, and a man in the eyes of thecommunity and how his decision will result to his friends losinghonor among men. On the other hand, Kimmel presents his argumentagainst the modern man who follows his peers and acts according totheir expectations, to an extent of acting recklessly as an attemptto save their dignity as men in the society. Clearly, Crito supportsthe exact idea that Kimmel is against with regard to how men inGuyland act.
RelativeMerits of the Disagreements
Thequalities of a good man as presented by Crito in his dialogue withSocrates is one which involves engaging in ‘manly’ acts which inthis case involve escaping, to preserve their dignity and honor asmen in the society. According to Crito, by escaping, Socrates will beavailable for his children, which is what every man is expected todo. Additionally, if Socrates follows Crito’s advice, he and hisfriends will not be disgraced in the eyes of men who are unaware thatCrito offered to help but Socrates refused.
Hence,Crito’s disagreement about how a real man should act is a means to:Self-preservation: people who do not know you and me will believethat I might have saved you if I had been willing to give money, butthat I did not care. Now, can there be a worse disgrace than this…”(Plato). Act of friendship, “…and the end of all, which is thecrowning absurdity, will seem to have been permitted by us, throughcowardice and baseness, who might have saved you…if we had beengood for anything and we did not..” (Plato). The ‘us’ in thisrefers to all friends of Socrates. Finally, a way for Socrates tocontinue being a father for his children who need him as a fatherfigure in their lives: “No man should bring children into the worldwho is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nurture andeducation” (Plato).
FromKimmel’s disagreement, it is clear he believes the guy codepresents the wrong definition of a man which “… keeps young menfrom venturing beyond the borders of Guyland. The good guys aresilenced and the predators and bullies are encouraged” (Kimmel,69). This means that his definition of good men is one that requiresthem to stop following a code that forces them to conform to theirpeers and act recklessly as they try to prove their manhood. Themerit of following Kimmel’s view is that it allows the men strandedin Guyland to enter adulthood without been torn between been boys orbeen men.
Thedefinition of a good man as given by Kimmel is one that shuns actingout of self- preservation and instead choosing the ethical approachto tough situations which presents the more convincing definition ofa good man. In Guyland, Kimmel condemns the common practice of‘loyalty’ among men which leads them to going as far as breakingthe law to save their friends (Kimmel, 68). In essence, this is whatCrito was ready to do for his friend Crito by choosing to break himout of jail. The actions of Crito are guided by the same code thatthe men in Guyland seem to be guided by where they act out ofself-reservation, peer influence and loyalty to their ‘guys’which Kimmel explains is limiting to the men as well as to thesociety.
Kimmel’sdefinition is convincing since in real sense, the ‘guy code’yields more bullies while the reverse gives rise to more ethical,compassionate and courageous men in the society. With more ethicalmen, as opposed to those presented by Crito, perhaps the pendingsentence of Socrates would be judged fairly allowing justice to takeits place while applying Crito’s point of view will lead to anincrease of bullies and criminals, if the guilty escape.
Kimmel,Michael S. Guyland:The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men.Harper Collins, 2008.
Plato.The Trial and Death of Socrates : Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, DeathScene from Phaedo. Indianapolis, IN :Hackett Pub., 2000. Print.
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