In the world of philosophy and science, a name stands out among the pack. That name is Socrates, a Greek philosopher who influenced Western philosophy through Plato one of his proteges. Read on to learn more about how this great scholar began his journey into stardom.
Early Life of Socrates
Socrates was born in Alopeke. His father was a sculptor, Sophroniscus by name. And his mother was Phaenarete, a midwife. He was educated in literature, music and gymnastics. He later was tutored in the Sophists’ rhetoric and dialectics, Ionian philosophers’ speculations and the Periclean Athens’ general culture. Socrates worked initially as a stonemason and crafted the statues of the Three Graces.
Married to Xanthippe, Socrates had three sons, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus. He participated gallantly in the Peloponnesian war (431 to 404 BC). He was anti-democratic and a social and moral critic of the Athenian government. He was on trial for teaching heresy to the youth of Athens and not believing in the gods of Athens. He was later condemned to death by administering him a poisoned drink. Although he had the chance to escape the cold hands of death, he risked his life so many times to propagate his philosophical beliefs.
Below are some of the philosophical beliefs of Socrates:
- Divinity: He has a strong belief in the divine.
- Knowledge: His popular quote: “I know that I know nothing.” However, the only subject he claimed to have knowledge of is “the art of love.”
- Virtue: He believed that instead of focusing on material wealth, people should pursue virtue – which to him was the best way to live.
- Politics: Socrates opined that only wise men i.e. philosophers are suitable to govern others. He was anti-democracy.
- His Paradoxes: his paradoxes conflict common sense e.g. No one desires evil etc.
Socrates contributions to the philosophical world are immensely thought-provoking. Here are some of them:
- Socratic Method: This method of inquiry of solving problems is still relevant today and largely used in scientific methods in which hypothesis is the first stage of solving a problem.
- Socrates’ Influences: Socrates’ influence on Plato who founded the Academy in 385 BC and the word Academy became the standard word for educational institutions in later European languages. His influence span towards Aristotle, a protégé of Plato who became the tutor of Alexander the Great. His contributions spanned to Hellenistic Era, Roman Era, Medieval Europe and the Islamic Middle East. Till date, Socrates method is still used in classroom and law school discourse to expose underlying issues in both subject and the speaker.
Famous Quotations of Socrates
- “How many things I can do without!”
- “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
- “Nothing can harm a good man, either in life or after death.”
Socrates was dubbed the father of political philosophy, ethics or moral philosophy and figurehead of all the central themes in Western philosophy. His legacy stands today as a figure that can never be erased from our lives and history.
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