Socrates

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Socrates was born in 470/469 – 399 BC, was recognized as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He specialize in classical Greek Philosophy. He is an perplexing figure known mainly through the versions 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”.

Through his portrayal in Plato’s dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, and it is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of pedagogy in which a series of questions is asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. Plato’s Socrates also made important and lasting contributions to the field of epistemology, and his ideologies and approach have proven a strong foundation for much Western philosophy that has followed. 

Socrates’ unorthodox political viewpoints and willingness to expose the ignorance of others created many enemies. This led to his arrest and trial. This trial was sensationalized in the dialogues of Plato. Plato paints a picture of a philosopher perfectly detached from the fear of death and committed to the truth. Shortly before his death, Socrates said:

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die and you to live. Which is the better, only God knows.”

When Socrates was found guilty of ‘corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of ‘impiety’ He calmly accepted the verdict and rather than try and escape the death penalty – he accepted the hemlock poison. If Socrates had repudiated his beliefs, he could have been free; he could also have tried to escape; but as a philosopher he felt it more important to stick to his beliefs. He also felt a social contact with the state of Athens, and therefore should willingly meet his fate. Socrates’ last words were:

“Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius. Please, don’t forget to pay the debt.” Asclepius was the Greek god for curing illness.

This could have meant Socrates saw death as freedom for the soul. Others interpret it has meaning that his death was a purifying remedy for Athens’ misfortune and mistakes.


Featured Image Courtesy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Socrates

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