Essay PreviewMore ↓
I. Socrates The most interesting and influential thinker in the fifth century was Socrates, whose dedication to careful reasoning transformed the entire enterprise. Since he sought genuine knowledge rather than mere victory over an opponent, He familiarized himself with the rhetoric and dialectics of the Sophists, the speculations of the Lonian philosophers, and the general culture of Periclean Athens. Socrates employed the same logical tricks developed by the Sophists to a new purpose, the pursuit of truth. Thus, his willingness to call everything into question and his determination to accept nothing less than an adequate account of the nature of things make him the first clear exponent of critical philosophy.
Although he was well known during his own time for his conversational skills and public teaching, Socrates wrote nothing, so we are dependent upon his students (especially Kenophon and Plato) for any detailed knowledge of his methods and results. The trouble is that Plato was himself a philosopher who often injected his own theories into the dialogues he presented to the world as discussions between Socrates and other famous figures of the day. Nevertheless, it is usually assumed that at least the early dialogues of Plato provide a (fairly) accurate representation of Socrates himself.
Socrates profoundly affected Western philosophy through his influence on Plato. Born in Athens, the son of Sophroniscus, a sculptor, and Phaenarete, a midwife, he received the regular elementary education in literature, music, and gymnastics. Initially, Socrates followed the craft of his father; according to a former tradition, he executed a statue group of the three Graces, which stood at the entrance to the Acropolis until the 2nd century AD. In the Peloponnesian War with Sparta he served as an infantryman with conspicuous bravery at the battles of Potidaea in 432-430BC, Delium in 424BC, and Amphipolis in 422BC.
Socrates believed in the superiority of argument over writing and therefore spent the greater part of his mature life in the marketplace and public places of Athens, engaging in dialogue and argument with anyone who would listen or who would submit to interrogation. Socrates was reportedly unattractive in appearance and short of stature but was also extremely hardy and self-controlled. He enjoyed life immensely and achieved social popularity because of his ready wit and a keen sense of humor that was completely devoid of satire or cynicism.
II. Attitude Toward Politics Socrates attitude toward politics was obedient, but generally steered clear of politics, restrained by what he believed to be divine warning.
How to Cite this Page
"The Life of Socrates." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Feb 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- During Socrates’ life on earth, he challenged traditional thinking in an honest, down to earth way and set the fundamentals of modern western philosophy. However, meletus, a young, egotistical person with the goal to destroy Socrates’ life for “corrupting the yout,” condemned him to death. Conversely, Meletus was actually the person who corrupted the youth for two obvious reasons; he is ignorant and careless. First of all, there was no legitimate reason Socrates should have been brought to court and absolutely no reason he should have been found guilty.... [tags: Corruption, Political corruption, Plato, Socrates]
748 words (2.1 pages)
- Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He questioned the very nature of why things were the way they were, while never settling for simple, mundane answers. Socrates would rather die searching for the truth than live accepting what he considered a blatant lie. I like to think of myself the same way. I too would rather examine the wonders of life rather than accept what I am just told. The truth is some can’t handle the truth. I on the other hand welcome it with earnest anticipation and fervent enthusiasm.... [tags: Socrates, philosophy, ]
521 words (1.5 pages)
- In the Crito, Socrates makes some surprisingly strong claims about the voice of the Laws of Athens, which speaks to him and explains why it is unjust to escape the prison. He claims that the citizens are bound to the Laws, and people ought to follow it. If one breaks it, it would cause great harm to the whole country. I will argue that the Athens does not held together by the Laws. I will also claim that neither Socrates nor citizens have an agreement with the laws. Socrates states that the Laws exist for its own purpose.... [tags: Plato, Socrates, Soul, Life]
1068 words (3.1 pages)
- Socrates and Plato were some of the world’s most famous philosophers. Yet, they caused much trouble in the midst of their philosophizing. These philosophers, in the view of the political elites, were threatening the Athenian democracy with their philosophy. But why did they go against the status quo. What was their point in causing all of this turmoil. Plato and Socrates threatened the democracy as a wake-up call. They wanted the citizens to be active thinkers and improve society. This manifested itself in three main ways: Socrates’ life, his student Plato’s life, and their legacy in our modern age.... [tags: Plato, Socrates, Athenian democracy, Apology]
1197 words (3.4 pages)
- Introduction Paper When most think about death and the after life they suddenly become shaken. Is death painful. Is it scary. Is there like after death. Are we truly at peace. What happens to our soul. Those who believe that God is our creator they seem to be less frightened about the idea of death. Socrates on the other hand was never once frightened about the idea of death. Throughout the Apology, one is able to clearly analyze Socrates’ view on death and the soul. The Apology is the actual speech delivered by Socrates during his death trial.... [tags: Socrates, Plato, Life, Philosophy]
1192 words (3.4 pages)
- Socrates uses rhetoric to defend himself and his philosophy in the Apology written by his student, Plato. He responds to three charges including the slanders told about Socrates according to the Clouds, and two charges brought against him in the trail. Socrates’ novel way of thinking, living and practicing of philosophy challenges the prejudiced jury and the law that Athen built upon. The way Socrates defends himself and his philosophy shows his thinking of law, virtue and the meaning of life. I argue that Socrates doesn 't defend himself well for the three charges.... [tags: Socrates, Plato, Philosophy, Meaning of life]
1217 words (3.5 pages)
- Socrates (470-399 BC) was a credited philosopher born in the city of Athens to father Sophroniscus and mother Phaenarete. Despite his world-renowned contributions, he did not leave any written accounts of his life. His story was taught through the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, along with Aristotle and Aristophanes in various forms of dramatic texts and histories. Among others, Plato wrote many dialogues that quoted Socrates’ exact words. Much of what we know comes from this greatly influenced student.... [tags: Biography, Contributions, Philosophies]
806 words (2.3 pages)
- Philosophy can be defined as the pursuit of wisdom or the love of knowledge. It is the product of education and experience, but more than the accumulation of information. Socrates, one of the most well-known of the early philosophers, epitomizes the concept of what is necessary of a true pursuer of wisdom: devoting his entire life to introspection, discussion and travel in search of the true meaning of the word. Divulged through Plato’s writings, Socrates is recognized for developing meanings of previously undefined concepts, such as truth, wisdom, and beauty.... [tags: Philosophy, Socrates, Plato, Meaning of life]
744 words (2.1 pages)
- “Plato, Apologia” is a primary source that is a story written by Plato, it is a written account of Socrates, a Greek philosopher, who was being tried for immorality towards the gods and for “corrupting the youth” (Strayer). In this primary source, Socrates is trying to plead his case so he won 't be charged; unfortunately, Socrates does get charged with the crimes he was convicted of and is sentenced to be put to death. Through his Socrates’ plea, his discusses what he believes is “the good life,” what “wisdom” is, and what “virtue” is.... [tags: Ethics, Morality, Plato, Religion]
784 words (2.2 pages)
- Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher that was born in Athens, Greece around 470/469 BC. He served in the Athenian army and fought in many battles. When Socrates retired from fighting in the army, he began focusing on expressing his beliefs. He wasn’t the typical “teacher” or “preacher”; he was a very critical and analytical thinker that helped guide his students and the Athenians during his time. Through his teachings and beliefs, Socrates had positive and negative influence on the people during his time and modern time.... [tags: Biography, Greek Philosopher, Athens]
1189 words (3.4 pages)
III. Teachings Socrates' contribution to philosophy was essentially ethical in character. Belief in a purely objective understanding of such concepts as justice, love, and virtue, and the self-knowledge that he inculcated, were the basis of his teachings. He believed that all vice is the result of ignorance, and that no person is willingly bad; correspondingly, virtue is knowledge, and those who know the right will act rightly. His logic placed particular emphasis on rational argument and the quest for general definitions, as evidenced in the writings of his younger contemporary and pupil, Plato, and of Plato's pupil, Aristotle..
Another thinker befriended and influenced by Socrates was Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynic school of philosophy. Socrates was also the teacher of Aristippus, who founded the Cyrenaic philosophy of experience and pleasure, from which developed the more lofty philosophy of Epicures. To such Stoics as the Greek philosopher Epictetus, the Roman philosopher Seneca the Elder, and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, Socrates appeared as the very embodiment and guide of the higher life.
IV. The Trial Although a patriot and a man of deep religious conviction, Socrates was nonetheless regarded with suspicion by many of his contemporaries, who disliked his attitude toward the Athenian state and the established religion. He was charged in 399BC with neglecting the gods of the state and introducing new divinities, a reference to the daemonion, or mystical inner voice, to which Socrates often referred. He was also charged with corrupting the morals of the young,, leading them away from the principles of democracy; and he was wrongly identified with the Sophists,. This was possibly because he had been ridiculed by the comic poet Aristophanes in his play The Clouds as the master of a "thinking-shop" where young men were taught to make the worse reason appear the better reason.
Plato's Apology gives the substance of the defense made by Socrates at his trial; it was a bold vindication of his whole life. He was condemned to die even though only a small majority carried the vote. When, according to Athenian legal practice, Socrates made an ironic counter-proposition to the court's death sentence, proposing only to pay a small fine because of his value to the state as a man with a philosophic mission, the jury was so angered by this offer that it voted by an increased majority for the death penalty.
Socrates' friends planned his escape from prison, but he preferred to comply with the law and die for his cause. His last day was spent with his friends and admirers, and in the evening he calmly fulfilled his sentence by drinking a cup of hemlock according to a customary procedure of execution. Plato described the trial and death of Socrates in the Apology, the Crito, and the Phaedo.
V. Apology: The Examined Life Because of his political associations with an earlier regime, the Athenian democracy put Socrates on trial, charging him with undermining state religion and corrupting young people. The speech he offered in his own defense, as reported in Plato's (Apology), provides us with many reminders of the central features of Socrates' approach to philosophy and its relation to practical life.
Ironic Modesty: Explaining his mission as a philosopher, Socrates reports an oracular message telling him "No one is wiser than you." (Apology 21a) He then proceeds through a series of ironic descriptions of his efforts to disprove the oracle by conversing with notable Athenians who must surely be wiser. In each case, In each case, however, Socrates concludes that he has a kind of wisdom that each of them lacks, namely, an open awareness of his own ignorance.
Questioning Habit: The goal of Socratic interrogation, then, is to help individuals to achieve genuine self-knowledge, even if it often turns out to be negative in character. As his cross-examination of Meletus shows, Socrates means to turn the methods of the Sophists inside out, using logical nit picking to expose (rather than to create) illusions about reality. If the method rarely succeeds with interlocutors, it can nevertheless be effectively internalized as a dialectical mode of reasoning in an effort to understand everything.
Devotion to Truth: Even after the jury has convicted him, Socrates declines to abandon his pursuit of the truth in all matters. Refusing to accept exile from Athens or a commitment to silence as his penalty, he maintains that public discussion of the great issues of life and virtue is a necessary part of any valuable human life. "The unexamined life is not worth living." (Apology 38a) Socrates would rather die than give up philosophy, and the jury seems happy to grant him that wish.
Dispassionate Reason: Even when the jury has sentenced him to death, Socrates calmly delivers his final public words, a speculation about what the future holds. Disclaiming any certainty about the fate of a human being after death, he nevertheless expresses a continued confidence in the power of reason, which he has exhibited (while the jury has not). Who really wins will remain unclear.
Plato's dramatic picture of a man willing to face death rather than abandoning his commitment to philosophical inquiry offers up Socrates as a model for all future philosophers. Perhaps few of us are presented with the same stark choice between philosophy and death, but all of us are daily faced with opportunities to decide between convenient conventionality and our devotion to truth and reason. How we choose determines whether we, like Socrates, deserve to call our lives philosophical.