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This article is about the classical Greek philosopher. For other uses of Socrates, see Socrates (disambiguation).
A bust of Socrates
A bust of Socrates in the Louvre
Born 470/469 BC[1]
Deme Alopece, Athens
Died 399 BC (age approx. 71)
Nationality Greek
Era Ancient philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Classical Greek
Main interests
Epistemology, ethics
Notable ideas
Socratic method, Socratic irony

Socrates (/ˈsɒkrətz/;[2] Greek: Σωκράτης [sɔːkrátɛːs], Sōkrátēs; 470/469 – 399 BC)[1] was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher. He is stated to have in part (together with Plato and Aristotle), or exclusively, laid the foundations of Western philosophy.[3][4][5] He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes. 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', Plato".[6]



As Socrates did not write philosophical texts, the knowledge of the man, his life, and his philosophy is entirely based on writings by his students and contemporaries. Foremost among them is Plato. Works by Xenophon (an Athenian soldier and historian [7]), Aristotle, and Aristophanes al so provide important insights.[8] According to the D.Nails writing at the Stanford University, (being one of the world's leading teaching and research universities [9]) internet source, Aristophanes (c.450 (approximately) to 386 (approximately)) was alive during the time of the early years of the life of Socrates. Plato and Xenophon were about 45 years younger than Socrates,[10] (Plato - 42 to 43 years younger, Xenophon - 40 years,[11][12][13][14] according to the online the Encyclopedia Britannica sources).


Plato is frequently viewed as the most informative source about Socrates' life and philosophy.[15] Plato' Socrates shows a consistent personality, [16][17] but Plato's intentions were not biographical. [17] He is within all of Plato's twenty five works, except The Seventh Letter and Laws.[18][19] Although the Seventh letter does include the story of Socrates' refusal (to obey the direction of the government) to arrest a man and bring him forth to execute.[20][21]


Memorabilia and Oeconomicus are the two works that include Socrates.[22]

so pious towards the just towards temperate and able to discourse upon and define with the greatest accuracy, not only those points of which we have been speaking, but likewise of any other, and looking, as it were, into the minds of men, discover the very moment for reprehending vice or stimulating to the love of virtue; experiencing, as I have done, all these excellencies in Socrates, I can never cease considering him as the most virtuous and the most happy of all mankind

—Xen.Mem.B.i.v.c.8 (1831)[23]


Carnelian gem imprint representing Socrates, Rome, 1st century BC-1st century AD.

(....Is any man wiser than Socrates? ) ... mædena sophoteron einai

Details about Socrates can be derived from three contemporary sources: the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon (both devotees of Socrates), and the plays of Aristophanes. He has been depicted by some scholars, including Eric Havelock and Walter Ong, as a champion of oral modes of communication, standing up at the dawn of writing against its haphazard diffusion.[28]

Socrates belonged to Alopece, a village near Athens.[29] Socrates' father was Sophroniscus,[30] a sculptor,[31] and his mother Phaenarete,[32] a midwife. Socrates married Xanthippe,[33] who was much younger than he and was characterized as undesirable in temperament. She bore for him three sons,[34] Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus. His friend Crito of Alopece criticized him for abandoning his sons when he refused to try to escape before his execution.[35]

Socrates had a friend named Chaerephon early on in his life (Ahbel-Rappe, Kamteka state this,as shown in Plato - Apology).[36][37]

Socrates initially earned his living as a master stonecutter. According to Timon of Phlius and later sources, Socrates took over the profession of stonemasonry from his father who cut stone for the Parthenon. There was a tradition in antiquity, not credited by modern scholarship, that Socrates crafted the statues of the Three Graces, which stood near the Acropolis until the 2nd century AD.[38] Ancient texts seem to indicate that Socrates did not work at stonecutting after retiring. In Xenophon's Symposium, Socrates is reported as saying he devotes himself only to what he regards as the most important art or occupation: discussing philosophy. In The Clouds Aristophanes portrays Socrates as accepting payment for teaching and running a sophist school with Chaerephon, while in Plato's Apology and Symposium and in Xenophon's accounts, Socrates explicitly denies accepting payment for teaching. More specifically, in the Apology Socrates cites his poverty as proof he is not a teacher.[citation needed]

Socrates Tears Alcibiades from the Embrace of Sensual Pleasure by Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1791)

Several of Plato's dialogues refer to Socrates' military service. Socrates says he served in the Athenian army during three campaigns: at Potidaea, Amphipolis, and Delium. In the Symposium Alcibiades describes Socrates' valour in the battles of Potidaea and Delium, recounting how Socrates saved his life in the former battle (219e-221b). Socrates' exceptional service at Delium is also mentioned in the Laches by the General after whom the dialogue is named (181b). In the Apology, Socrates compares his military service to his courtroom troubles, and says anyone on the jury who thinks he ought to retreat from philosophy must also think soldiers should retreat when it seems likely that they will be killed in battle.[39]

In 406, he was a member of the Boule, and his tribe the Antiochis held the Prytany on the day the Generals of the Battle of Arginusae, who abandoned the slain and the survivors of foundered ships to pursue the defeated Spartan navy, were discussed. Socrates was the Epistates and resisted the unconstitutional demand for a collective trial to establish the guilt of all eight Generals, proposed by Callixeinus. Eventually, Socrates refused to be cowed by threats of impeachment and imprisonment and blocked the vote until his Prytany ended the next day, whereupon the six Generals who had returned to Athens were condemned to death.[citation needed]

In 404, the Thirty Tyrants sought to ensure the loyalty of those opposed to them by making them complicit in their activities. Socrates and four others were ordered to bring a certain Leon of Salamis from his home for unjust execution. Socrates quietly refused, his death averted only by the overthrow of the Tyrants soon afterwards.[40]

Trial and death

Main article: Trial of Socrates

Socrates is guilty of crime in refusing to recognise the gods acknowledged by the state, and importing strange divinities of his own; he is further guilty of corrupting the young

—Xenophon - Book I of THE MEMORABILIA or Recollections of Socrates [41]

In the Harward translation of The Seventh Letter, Plato recounts how a revolution had occurred and the new government, being unsettled in it's seat of power, brought forward harsh charges against political opponents, this he mentions particularly in regards to the charge of Socrates.[42]

Socrates lived during the time of the transition from the height of the Athenian hegemony to its decline with the defeat by Sparta and its allies in the Peloponnesian War. At a time when Athens sought to stabilize and recover from its humiliating defeat, the Athenian public may have been entertaining doubts about democracy as an efficient form of government. Socrates appears to have been a critic of democracy,[43] and some scholars interpret his trial as an expression of political infighting.[44] Claiming loyalty to his city, Socrates clashed with the current course of Athenian politics and society.[45] He praises Sparta, archrival to Athens, directly and indirectly in various dialogues. One of Socrates' purported offenses to the city was his position as a social and moral critic. Rather than upholding a status quo and accepting the development of what he perceived as immorality within his region, Socrates questioned the collective notion of "might makes right" that he felt was common in Greece during this period. Plato refers to Socrates as the "gadfly" of the state (as the gadfly stings the horse into action, so Socrates stung various Athenians), insofar as he irritated some people with considerations of justice and the pursuit of goodness.[46] His attempts to improve the Athenians' sense of justice may have been the cause of his execution.[citation needed]

According to Plato's Apology, Socrates' life as the "gadfly" of Athens began when his friend Chaerephon asked the oracle at Delphi if anyone were wiser than Socrates; the Oracle responded that no-one was wiser. Socrates believed the Oracle's response was a paradox, because he believed he possessed no wisdom whatsoever. He proceeded to test the riddle by approaching men considered wise by the people of Athens—statesmen, poets, and artisans—in order to refute the Oracle's pronouncement. Questioning them, however, Socrates concluded: while each man thought he knew a great deal and was wise, in fact they knew very little and were not wise at all. Socrates realized the Oracle was correct; while so-called wise men thought themselves wise and yet were not, he himself knew he was not wise at all, which, paradoxically, made him the wiser one since he was the only person aware of his own ignorance. Socrates' paradoxical wisdom made the prominent Athenians he publicly questioned look foolish, turning them against him and leading to accusations of wrongdoing. Socrates defended his role as a gadfly until the end: at his trial, when Socrates was asked to propose his own punishment, he suggested a wage paid by the government and free dinners for the rest of his life instead, to finance the time he spent as Athens' benefactor.[47] He was, nevertheless, found guilty of both corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of impiety ("not believing in the gods of the state"),[48] and subsequently sentenced to death by drinking a mixture containing poison hemlock.[49][50][51][52]

Bust of Socrates in the Vatican Museum

According to Xenophon's story, Socrates purposefully gave a defiant defense to the jury because "he believed he would be better off dead". Xenophon goes on to describe a defense by Socrates that explains the rigors of old age, and how Socrates would be glad to circumvent them by being sentenced to death. It is also understood that Socrates also wished to die because he "actually believed the right time had come for him to die."[citation needed]


Xenophon and Plato agree that Socrates had an opportunity to escape, as his followers were able to bribe the prison guards. There have been several suggestions offered as reasons why he chose to stay:

  1. He believed such a flight would indicate a fear of death, which he believed no true philosopher has.
  2. If he fled Athens his teaching would fare no better in another country, as he would continue questioning all he met and undoubtedly incur their displeasure.
  3. Having knowingly agreed to live under the city's laws, he implicitly subjected himself to the possibility of being accused of crimes by its citizens and judged guilty by its jury. To do otherwise would have caused him to break his "social contract" with the state, and so harm the state, an unprincipled act.
  4. If he escaped at the instigation of his friends, then his friends would become liable in law.[53]

The full reasoning behind his refusal to flee is the main subject of the Crito.[54]


Socrates' death is described at the end of Plato's Phaedo. Socrates turned down Crito's pleas to attempt an escape from prison. After drinking the poison, he was instructed 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. Shortly before his death, Socrates speaks his last words to Crito: "Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius. Please, don't forget to pay the debt."

Asclepius was the Greek god for curing illness, and it is likely Socrates' last words meant that death is the cure—and freedom, of the soul from the body. Additionally, in Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths, Robin Waterfield adds another interpretation of Socrates' last words. He suggests that Socrates was a voluntary scapegoat; his death was the purifying remedy for Athens' misfortunes. In this view, the token of appreciation for Asclepius would represent a cure for Athens' ailments.[46]


The arguments of Socrates

These are open to interpretation by modern readers:[55]

Socrates argument seem ridiculous the first time you listen -

— Alcibiades in Symposium[55]

Interpretations might be formed by recourse to the logical content of the arguments and pragmatics [56] of the text.[57]

Socratic method

Main article: Socratic method

An interpretation of the dialectic is that it is a method for direct perception of the Form of the Good. Philosopher Karl Popper describes the dialectic as "the art of intellectual intuition, of visualising the divine originals, the Forms or Ideas, of unveiling the Great Mystery behind the common man's everyday world of appearances."[58] In a similar vein, French philosopher Pierre Hadot suggests that the dialogues are a type of spiritual exercise. "Furthermore," writes Hadot, "in Plato's view, every dialectical exercise, precisely because it is an exercise of pure thought, subject to the demands of the Logos, turns the soul away from the sensible world, and allows it to convert itself towards the Good."[59]

Philosophical beliefs

The beliefs of Socrates, as distinct from those of Plato, are difficult to discern. Little in the way of concrete evidence exists to demarcate the two. The lengthy presentation of ideas given in most of the dialogues may be deformed by Plato, and some scholars think Plato so adapted the Socratic style as to make the literary character and the philosopher himself impossible to distinguish. Others argue that he did have his own theories and beliefs.[60] However, there is much controversy over what these might have been, owing to the difficulty of separating Socrates from Plato and the difficulty of interpreting even the dramatic writings concerning Socrates. Consequently, distinguishing the philosophical beliefs of Socrates from those of Plato and Xenophon is not easy and it must be remembered that what is attributed to Socrates might more closely reflect the specific concerns of these thinkers.[citation needed]

The matter is complicated because the historical Socrates seems to have been notorious for asking questions but not answering, claiming to lack wisdom concerning the subjects about which he questioned others.[61]

Also, according to A. A. Long, "There should be no doubt that, despite his claim to know only that he knew nothing, Socrates had strong beliefs about the divine", and, citing Xenophon's Memorabilia, 1.4, 4.3,:

According to Xenophon, he was a teleologist who held that god arranges everything for the best.[62]

Socrates frequently says his ideas are not his own, but his teachers'. He mentions several influences: Prodicus the rhetor and Anaxagoras the philosopher. Perhaps surprisingly, Socrates claims to have been deeply influenced by two women besides his mother: he says that Diotima, a witch and priestess from Mantinea, taught him all he knows about eros, or love.[citation needed]

The writing Menexenus shows Aspasia the mistress of Pericles instructed him in the art of rhetoric.[63][64] John Burnet argued that his principal teacher was the Anaxagorean Archelaus but his ideas were as Plato described them; Eric A. Havelock, on the other hand, considered Socrates' association with the Anaxagoreans to be evidence of Plato's philosophical separation from Socrates.[citation needed]

Socratic paradoxes

Many of the beliefs traditionally attributed to the historical Socrates have been characterized as "paradoxical" because they seem to conflict with common sense. The following are among the so-called Socratic paradoxes:[65]

  • 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' utterance, "what I do not know I do not think I know",[66] often paraphrased as "I know that I know nothing."[citation needed]


In Plato's Theaetetus (150a), Socrates compares himself to a true matchmaker (προμνηστικός promnestikós), as distinguished from a panderer (προᾰγωγός proagogos). This distinction is echoed in Xenophon's Symposium (3.20), when Socrates jokes about his certainty of being able to make a fortune, if he chose to practice the art of pandering. For his part as a philosophical interlocutor, he leads his respondent to a clearer conception of wisdom, although he claims he is not himself a teacher (Apology). His role, he claims, is more properly to be understood as analogous to a midwife (μαῖα maia). Socrates explains that he is himself barren of theories, but knows how to bring the theories of others to birth and determine whether they are worthy or mere "wind eggs" (ἀνεμιαῖον anemiaion). He points out that midwives are barren due to age, and women who have never given birth are unable to become midwives; they would have no experience or knowledge of birth and would be unable to separate the worthy infants from those that should be left on the hillside to be exposed.[citation needed]


Bust of Socrates in the Palermo Archaeological Museum.

Socrates 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.[67] 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.[68] 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' 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."[69]

Socrates commended self-control (έγκρύτεια).[70]


In Plato's dialogue the Republic, Socrates openly objected to the democracy that ran Athens during his adult life.

Socrates' opposition to democracy is often denied, and the question is one of the biggest philosophical debates when trying to determine exactly what Socrates believed. The strongest argument of those who claim Socrates did not actually believe in the idea of philosopher kings is that the view is expressed no earlier than Plato's Republic, which is widely considered one of Plato's "Middle" dialogues and not representative of the historical Socrates' views. Furthermore, according to Plato's Apology of Socrates, an "early" dialogue, Socrates refused to pursue conventional politics; he often stated he could not look into other's matters or tell people how to live their lives when he did not yet understand how to live his own. He believed he was a philosopher engaged in the pursuit of Truth, and did not claim to know it fully. Socrates' acceptance of his death sentence after his conviction can also be seen to support this view. It is often claimed much of the anti-democratic leanings are from Plato, who was never able to overcome his disgust at what was done to his teacher. In any case, it is clear Socrates thought the rule of the Thirty Tyrants was also objectionable; when called before them to assist in the arrest of a fellow Athenian, Socrates refused and narrowly escaped death before the Tyrants were overthrown. He did, however, fulfill his duty to serve as Prytanis when a trial of a group of Generals who presided over a disastrous naval campaign were judged; even then, he maintained an uncompromising attitude, being one of those who refused to proceed in a manner not supported by the laws, despite intense pressure.[71] Judging by his actions, he considered the rule of the Thirty Tyrants less legitimate than the Democratic Senate that sentenced him to death.

Socrates' apparent respect for democracy is one of the themes emphasized in the 2008 play Socrates on Trial by Andrew David Irvine. Irvine argues that it was because of his loyalty to Athenian democracy that Socrates was willing to accept the verdict of his fellow citizens. As Irvine puts it, "During a time of war and great social and intellectual upheaval, Socrates felt compelled to express his views openly, regardless of the consequences. As a result, he is remembered today, not only for his sharp wit and high ethical standards, but also for his loyalty to the view that in a democracy the best way for a man to serve himself, his friends, and his city – even during times of war – is by being loyal to, and by speaking publicly about, the truth."[72]


...Someone may wonder why I go about in private, giving advice and busying myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you the reason of this. You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician... - Plato APOLOGY [73][74]

Perhaps the most well known factor of Socrates' life in respect to his own actual religion is his statements of having a sign or voice, daimonion ti (meaning divine something) (ref. p. 9).[75] Plato and Xenophon writings don't refer much to the divine sign. When Socrates refers to the divine sign he states it influences his daily life, usually to stop him from doing something.[76] Plato's writings in Apology state that Socrates thinks that to believe in daimones is to believe in gods.[77]

Perhaps the most interesting facet of this is Socrates' reliance on what the Greeks called his "daimonic sign", an averting (ἀποτρεπτικός apotreptikos) inner voice Socrates heard only when he was about to make a mistake. It was this sign that prevented Socrates from entering into politics. In the Phaedrus, we are told Socrates considered this to be a form of "divine madness", a gift from the gods and gives us poetry, mysticism, love, and even philosophy itself. Alternately, the sign is often taken to be what we would call "intuition"; however, Socrates' characterization of the phenomenon as "daimonic" may suggest that its origin is divine, mysterious, and independent of his own thoughts. Today, such a voice might be classified under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a command hallucination.[78]

According to one definition, daimonion is an "evil spirit, daemon; heathen deity".[79] Another definition, in reference to Socrates, does not refer to evilness, daeominicalness or deities of a heathen nature at all, showing daimones to mean spirit, and daimonion to be a mysterious voice.[80]

The philosophers, Hegel and Kierkegaard consider Socrates' daimon to represent in Socrates his general negative relation to the established order (this being the order of ancient Athens).[81]

In the Dialogues of Plato, though Socrates sometimes seems to advocate a mystical view, discussing reincarnation and the mystery religions, this is generally attributed to Plato himself.[82]


... music and gymnastics for the service of the high-spirited principle and the love of knowledge ...

For the Platonic Socrates,[84] to benefit the soul (i.e. the animus [85][86]), gynmnastics is the counterpart to music, is necessary for the correct development of the individual, as gymnastics hardens music softens, providing potentially the correct balance within the soul of hardness and softness.[87][88] As exercise provides courage and advances the nature of the spirit, so though also a parallel causation of too harsh a character, unless tempered by gentleness penetrating the soul from the experience of music.[89]


An education in music is ordered into three types, logos (λόγος [90]) the content of speeches, lexis (λεχις [91]) the form of speaking, and music in its conventional sense.[92]


Plato's Socrates (in The Republic) states, gymnastics as an activity has as its main goal the training of the soul.[93][94]


According to Xenophon, Socrates thought that "health and sickness themselves, when they are the causes of any good, will be good, and when they are the causes of any evil, will be evil."[95][96]

Prose sources

The Socratic dialogues

Main article: Socratic dialogue

The Socratic Dialogues are a series of dialogues written by Plato and Xenophon in the form of discussions between Socrates and other persons of his time, or as discussions between Socrates' followers over his concepts. Plato's Phaedo is an example of this latter category. Although his Apology is a monologue delivered by Socrates, it is usually grouped with the Dialogues.

The Apology professes to be a record of the actual speech Socrates delivered in his own defense at the trial. In the Athenian jury system, an "apology" is composed of three parts: a speech, followed by a counter-assessment, then some final words. "Apology" is a transliteration, not a translation, of the Greek apologia, meaning "defense"; in this sense it is not apologetic according to our contemporary use of the term.

Plato generally does not place his own ideas in the mouth of a specific speaker; he lets ideas emerge via the Socratic Method, under the guidance of Socrates. Most of the dialogues present Socrates applying this method to some extent, but nowhere as completely as in the Euthyphro. In this dialogue, Socrates and Euthyphro go through several iterations of refining the answer to Socrates' question, "...What is the pious, and what the impious?"

In Plato's Dialogues, learning appears as a process of remembering. The soul, before its incarnation in the body, was in the realm of Ideas (very similar to the Platonic "Forms"). There, it saw things the way they truly are, rather than the pale shadows or copies we experience on earth. By a process of questioning, the soul can be brought to remember the ideas in their pure form, thus bringing wisdom.[97]

Especially for Plato's writings referring to Socrates, it is not always clear which ideas brought forward by Socrates (or his friends) actually belonged to Socrates and which of these may have been new additions or elaborations by Plato – this is known as the Socratic Problem. Generally, the early works of Plato are considered to be close to the spirit of Socrates, whereas the later works – including Phaedo and Republic – are considered to be possibly products of Plato's elaborations.[98]


Immediate influence

Statue of Socrates in front of the Academy of Athens (modern)

Immediately, the students of Socrates set to work both on exercising their perceptions of his teachings in politics and also on developing many new philosophical schools of thought. Some of Athens' controversial and anti-democratic tyrants, such as Alcibiades and Critias, were contemporary or posthumous students of Socrates. Critias' cousin Plato would go on to found the Academy in 385 BC, which gained so much renown that "Academy" became the standard word for educational institutions in later European languages such as English, French, and Italian.[99] Aristotle, Plato's protegé, and another important figure of the Classical era, went on to tutor Alexander the Great and also to found his own school in 335 BC — the Lyceum — whose name also now means an educational institution.[100]

While "Socrates dealt with moral matters and took no notice at all of nature in general",[101] in his Dialogues, Plato would emphasize mathematics with metaphysical overtones mirroring that of Pythagoras. Plato would dominate Western thought well into the Renaissance. Aristotle himself was as much of a philosopher as he was a scientist with extensive work in the fields of biology and physics.

Socratic thought, which challenged conventions, especially in stressing a simplistic way of living, became divorced from Plato's more detached and philosophical pursuits. This idea was inherited by one of Socrates' older students, Antisthenes, who became the originator of another philosophy in the years after Socrates' death: Cynicism. The idea of asceticism, which emphasized an ethical life or one with piety, ignored by Plato and Aristotle but somewhat dealt with by the Cynics, formed the core of Stoicism, in which Zeno of Citium would discover Socrates' works and then learn from Crates, a Cynic philosopher.[102]

Later historical influence

While some of the later contributions of Socrates to Hellenistic Era culture and philosophy as well as the Roman Era have been lost to time, his teachings began a resurgence in both medieval Europe and the Islamic Middle East alongside those of Aristotle and Stoicism. Socrates is mentioned in the dialogue Kuzari by Jewish philosopher and rabbi Yehuda Halevi in which a Jew instructs the Khazar king about Judaism.[103] Al-Kindi, a well-known Arabic philosopher, introduced and tried to reconcile Socrates and Hellenistic philosophy to an Islamic audience,[104] referring to him by the name 'Suqrat'.

Socrates' stature in Western philosophy returned in full force with the Renaissance and the Age of Reason in Europe when political theory began to resurface under those like Locke and Hobbes.[105] Voltaire even went so far as to write a satirical play about the Trial of Socrates. There were a number of paintings about his life including Socrates Tears Alcibiades from the Embrace of Sensual Pleasure by Jean-Baptiste Regnault and The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David in the later 18th century.

To this day, the Socratic Method is still used in classroom and law school discourse to expose underlying issues in both subject and the speaker. He has been recognized with accolades ranging from frequent mentions in pop culture (such as the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and a Greek rock band called Socrates Drank the Conium) to numerous busts in academic institutions in recognition of his contribution to education.

Over the past century, numerous plays about Socrates have also focused on Socrates' life and influence. One of the most recent has been Socrates on Trial, a play based on Aristophanes' Clouds and Plato's Apology, Crito, and Phaedo, all adapted for modern performance.[who?]


Evaluation of and reaction to Socrates has been undertaken by both historians and philosophers from the time of his death to the present day with a multitude of conclusions and perspectives. Although he was not directly prosecuted for his connection to Critias, leader of the Spartan-backed Thirty Tyrants, and "showed considerable personal courage in refusing to submit to [them]", he was seen by some as a figure who mentored oligarchs who became abusive tyrants, and undermined Athenian democracy. The Sophistic movement that he railed at in life survived him, but by the 3rd century BC, was rapidly overtaken by the many philosophical schools of thought that Socrates influenced.[106]

Socrates' death is considered iconic and his status as a martyr of philosophy overshadows most contemporary and posthumous criticism. However, Xenophon mentions Socrates' "arrogance" and that he was "an expert in the art of pimping" or "self-presentation". [107] Direct criticism of Socrates the man almost disappears after this time, but there is a noticeable preference for Plato or Aristotle over the elements of Socratic philosophy distinct from those of his students, even into the Middle Ages.

Some modern scholarship holds that, with so much of his own thought obscured and possibly altered by Plato, it is impossible to gain a clear picture of Socrates amidst all the contradictory evidence. That both Cynicism and Stoicism, which carried heavy influence from Socratic thought, were unlike or even contrary to Platonism further illustrates this. The ambiguity and lack of reliability serves as the modern basis of criticism—that it is nearly impossible to know the real Socrates. Some controversy also exists about Socrates' attitude towards homosexuality[108] and as to whether or not he believed in the Olympian gods, was monotheistic, or held some other religious viewpoint.[109] However, it is still commonly taught and held with little exception that Socrates is the progenitor of subsequent Western philosophy, to the point that philosophers before him are referred to as pre-Socratic.[citation needed]

Modern review

For Martin Cohen, Plato offers "an idol, a master figure, for philosophy. A Saint, a prophet of the 'Sun-God', a teacher condemned for his teachings as a heretic."[110][111]

In literature

See also


  1. ^ a b "Socrates". 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1911. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  2. ^ Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter, James Hartman and Jane Setter, eds. Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. 17th edition. Cambridge UP, 2006.
  3. ^ The Bloomsbury Companion to Socrates A&C Black, 3 Jan 2013 (edited by J Bussanich - Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico, USA, & ND. Smith) ISBN 1441112847 [Retrieved 2015-3-24]
  4. ^ Targowski, A (2010) Ph.D., is a professor of Business Information Systems at Western Michigan University. He has published many papers and 22 books on information technology, business, philosophy, and civilization in English and Polish. He is a pioneer of business computing and inventor of INFOSTRADA (Poland 1972), which triggered the Information Superhighway wave in the U.S. in the 1990s. He investigates the role of information and wisdom in organizations and civilization. He was Chairman of the Advisory Council of Information Resource Management Society (1996-2003) and is President of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (2007-) - Cognitive Informatics and Wisdom Development: Interdisciplinary Approaches: Interdisciplinary Approaches (p.42) IGI Global, 31 Dec 2010 [Retrieved 2015-3-24] (ed. the review shows "Cognitive Informatics and Wisdom Development: Interdisciplinary Approaches argues that wise civilization cannot function without wise people and vice versa,..."
  5. ^ TFX. Noble ( Ph.D. from Michigan State University), B Strauss - (Ph.D. from Yale), D Osheim (Professor of History at the University of Virginia), K Neuschel, E Accampo (professor of history at the University of Southern California) ([c.f. Authors]) - Western Civilization: Beyond Boundaries, Volume I: To 1715, Volume 1 (p.85 , right column , 1st paragraph) Cengage Learning, 12 Jan 2007 [Retrieved 2015-3-24]
  6. ^ Sarah Kofman (1998). Socrates: Fictions of a Philosopher. p. 34. ISBN 0-8014-3551-X. Nietzsche indeed manages to trace a utilitarian Socrates in Plato's dialogues, a Socrates who is more or less hidden behind his 'best disciple', Plato: ... 
  7. ^ D Sacks, O Murray - Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World (p.319) Infobase Publishing, 1 Jan 2009 ISBN 1438110200 [Retrieved 2015-3-26](ed. Google books info inc. < Contributor - LR.Brody .... associate curator of ancient art at the Yale University Art Gallery>
  8. ^ Many other writers added to the fashion of Socratic dialogues (called Sőkratikoi logoi) at the time. In addition to Plato and Xenophon, each of the following is credited by some source as having added to the genre: Aeschines of Sphettus, Antisthenes, Aristippus, Bryson, Cebes, Crito, Euclid of Megara, and Phaedo. It is unlikely Plato was the first in this field (Vlastos, p. 52).
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  12. ^ R Kraut (Charles and Emma Morrison Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University) - - Socrates The Encyclopedia Brittanica [Retrieved 2015-3-24]
  13. ^ CJ. Tuplin (one time Professor of Ancient History, University of Liverpool, England) - - Xenophon The Encyclopedia Brittanica [Retrieved 2015-3-24]
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  17. ^ a b the page providing author info in this source isn't inc. in the preview. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy - edited by E Honderich (info of this edit is via the first (upper) of the three pages provided when opening the link, then the last but one sentence). Oxford University Press, 10 Mar 2005 ISBN 0191037478. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
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  28. ^ Ong, pp. 78–79.
  29. ^ ... < born in a a bourg of Athens known as Alopece > - JG Cooper - The Life of Socrates R. Dodsley, 1750-[Retrieved - 2015-3-21]..... < was born at Alopece, a village near Athens > - Plato, Immanuel Bekker, Marsilio Ficino, Charles Stuart Stanford - Plato's Apology of Socrates, Crito, and Phaedo: from the text of Bekker (p.301) Printed at the University Press, for William Curry, 1834-[Retrieved 2015-3-27] (ed. Modern sources which corroborate <Socrates of Alopece> - [1] [2] [3]-[Retrieved 2015-3-22]
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  33. ^ "Xenophon, ''Symposium'' 2.10". Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  34. ^ "Plato, ''Phaedo'' 116b". Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  35. ^ "Plato, ''Crito'' 45c-45e". Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  36. ^ edited by S Ahbel-Rappe, R Kamteka - 2009 Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. A Companion to Socrates (p.7). John Wiley & Sons, 11 May 2009 ISBN 1405192607. Retrieved 2015-03-24. 
  37. ^ Plato - APOLOGY Translated by Benjamin Jowett [Retrieved 2015-3-24](6th paragraph of Apology (not Introduction) - .... For the word which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit; that witness shall be the God of Delphi—he will tell you about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether—as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt—he asked the oracle to tell him whether anyone was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself; but his brother, who is in court, will confirm the truth of what I am saying....)
  38. ^ The ancient tradition is attested in Pausanias, 1.22.8; for a modern denial, see Kleine Pauly, "Sokrates" 7; the tradition is a confusion with the sculptor, Socrates of Thebes, mentioned in Pausanias 9.25.3, a contemporary of Pindar.
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  45. ^ Here it is telling to refer to Thucydides (3.82.8): "Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence, became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defense. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected."
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  100. ^ Magee, B (2000). The Great Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy. Oxford University Press. p. 34. 
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  103. ^ Hughes, B (2011). The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 
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  106. ^ Wilson, ER. (2007). The Death of Socrates: Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint. Profile Books. pp. 61–62. 
  107. ^ Danzig, G. (2010). Apologizing for Socrates: How Plato and Xenophon Created Our Socrates. Lexington Books. pp. 66–67. 
  108. ^ W. K. C. Guthrie, Socrates, Cambridge University Press, 1971, p. 70.
  109. ^ A.A. Long "How Does Socrates' Divine Sign Communicate with Him?", Chapter 5 in: A Companion to Socrates, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, p. 63.
  110. ^ Martin Cohen, Philosophical Tales (2008) ISBN 1-4051-4037-2
  111. ^ See also R.D'A.Ward, Sokrátis : Soul Scientist, York : Aretí Publications, 2013
  112. ^ Gomez, Alex (July 10, 2010). "Mary Renault's 'The Last of the Wine' Reviewed". Banderas News. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
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