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Socrates

A marble head of Socrates
A marble head of Socrates in the Louvre

Born

c.  470 BC
DemeAlopece, Athens

Died

399 BC
Athens

Cause of death

Execution by the drinking of hemlock

Era

Ancient philosophy

Region

Western philosophy

School

Classical Greek philosophy

Main interests

Epistemology, ethics

Notable ideas

Socratic method, Socratic concepts

Influences

  • Prodicus, Anaxagoras, Archelaus, Diotima

Influenced

  • Virtually all subsequent Western philosophy, but Plato and Xenophon in particular

Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher, of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the only source to have written during his lifetime.

Plato's dialogues are among the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity, though it is unclear the degree to which Socrates himself is "hidden behind his 'best disciple'". Through his portrayal in Plato's dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the fields of ethics and epistemology. It is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus.

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Discover Socrates Quotes and Sayings

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

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

Socrates

friendship art
Beauty is a short-lived tyranny. - Socrates

Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.

Socrates

beauty
Beauty is the bait which with delight allures man to enlarge his kind. - Socrates

Beauty is the bait which with delight allures man to enlarge his kind.

Socrates

beauty
Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us. - Socrates

Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.

Socrates

religion good god best
He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy. - Socrates

He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.

Socrates

courage
Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. - Socrates

Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.

Socrates

death
Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death. - Socrates

Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death.

Socrates

death
Where there is reverence there is fear, but there is not reverence everywhere that there is fear, because fear presumably has a wider extension than reverence. - Socrates

Where there is reverence there is fear, but there is not reverence everywhere that there is fear, because fear presumably has a wider extension than reverence.

Socrates

fear
The end of life is to be like God, and the soul following God will be like Him. - Socrates

The end of life is to be like God, and the soul following God will be like Him.

Socrates

life god
By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. - Socrates

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.

Socrates

marriage good
My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy if not, you'll become a philosopher. - Socrates

My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy if not, you'll become a philosopher.

Socrates

wedding good
Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued. - Socrates

Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.

Socrates

life good
The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. - Socrates

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

Socrates

good
I only wish that ordinary people had an unlimited capacity for doing harm then they might have an unlimited power for doing good. - Socrates

I only wish that ordinary people had an unlimited capacity for doing harm then they might have an unlimited power for doing good.

Socrates

power good
The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be. - Socrates

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.

Socrates

great
I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing. - Socrates

I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.

Socrates

intelligence