Socrates Biography

Socrates was born in 470BC in Alopeke, and belonged to the tribe Antiochis.

His father was Sophroniscus, a sculptor, or stonemason. His mother Phaenarete was a midwife.

Socrates married Xanthippe, who is especially remembered for having an undesirable temperament. She bore for him three sons, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus.

Socrates first worked as a stonemason. There was a tradition in antiquity, not credited by modern scholarship, that Socrates crafted the statues of the Charites, which stood near the Acropolis until the 2nd century AD.

For a time, Socrates fulfilled the role of hoplite. He participating in the Peloponnesian War—a conflict which stretched intermittently over a period spanning 431 to 404 BC.

Socrates Death

In 399 BC, Socrates went on trial. He was subsequently found guilty of both corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of impiety.

As a punishment sentenced to death, caused by the drinking of a mixture containing poison hemlock.

After drinking the poison, soldier instructed him to walk around until his legs felt numb. After he lay down, the man who administered the poison pinched his foot; Socrates could no longer feel his legs.

The numbness slowly crept up his body until it reached his heart. Socrates chose to cover his face during the execution

Socrates Quotes

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.

All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.

Socratic Method

The elenchus is the technique Socrates uses to investigate, for example, the nature or definition of ethical concepts such as justice or virtue. According to Vlastos, it has the following steps:

Socrates’ interlocutor asserts a thesis, for example “Courage is endurance of the soul”, which Socrates considers false and targets for refutation.

He secures his interlocutor’s agreement to further premises, for example “Courage is a fine thing” and “Ignorant endurance is not a fine thing”.

Socrates then argues, and the interlocutor agrees, that these further premises imply the contrary of the original thesis; in this case, it leads to: “courage is not endurance of the soul”.

He then claims that he has shown that his interlocutor’s thesis is false and that its negation is true.

Socrates Philosophy

He tells his student they are concerned with their families, careers, and political responsibilities when they ought to be worried about the “welfare of their souls”.

Socrates’s assertion that the gods had singled him out as a divine emissary seemed to provoke irritation, if not outright ridicule. He also questioned the Sophistic doctrine that arete (virtue) can be taught.

Socrates Teachings

He believed the best way for people to live was to focus on the pursuit of virtue rather than the pursuit, for instance, of material wealth.

He always invited others to try to concentrate more on friendships and a sense of true community, for Socrates felt this was the best way for people to grow together as a populace.

His actions lived up to this standard. In the end, Socrates accepted his death sentence when most thought he would simply leave Athens, as he felt he could not run away from or go against the will of his community; as mentioned above, his reputation for valor on the battlefield was without reproach.

The idea that there are certain virtues formed a common thread in Socrates’s teachings.

These virtues represented the most important qualities for a person to have, foremost of which were the philosophical or intellectual virtues.

Socrates stressed that “the unexamined life is not worth living[and] ethical virtue is the only thing that matters

Socrates Images

                                Death of Socrates

Socrates Dialogue

While “Socrates dealt with moral matters and took no notice at all of nature in general”, in his Dialogues, Plato would emphasize mathematics with metaphysical overtones mirroring that of Pythagoras—the former who would dominate Western thought well into the Renaissance.

Aristotle himself was as much of a philosopher as he was a scientist. He worked extensively in the fields of biology and physics.

Socrates Contributions

He thought which challenged conventions, especially in stressing a simplistic way of living, became divorced from Plato’s more detached and philosophical pursuits.

Socrates’s older students, Antisthenes inherited this idea. He became the originator of another philosophy in the years after Socrates’s death: Cynicism.

The idea of asceticism being hand in hand with an ethical life or one with piety. Plato and Aristotle ignored it and somewhat dealt with by the Cynics, formed the core of another philosophy in 281 BC—Stoicism when Zeno of Citium would discover Socrates’s works and then learn from Crates, a Cynic philosopher.

Many of the beliefs traditionally that historical attributed to Socrates have been characterized as “paradoxical” because they seem to conflict with common sense. The following are among the so-called Socratic paradoxes:

No one desires evil.

No one errs or does wrong willingly or knowingly.

Virtue—all virtue—is knowledge.

Virtue is sufficient for happiness.

The term, “Socratic paradox” can also refer to a self-referential paradox, originating in Socrates’s utterance, “what I do not know I do not think I know”, often paraphrased as “I know that I know nothing.”

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