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Socrates – Ramona

A philosopher of Athens, Socrates generally regarded as one of the wisest people of all time born from 469 to 399 B.C. It is not known who his teachers were, but he was told to have been acquainted with the doctrines of Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Anaxagoras. Socrates himself left no writings that we know of, so a lot of our knowledge of him and his teachings comes from the dialogues and works like ‘The Apology” which is really an actual speech delivered by Socrates during his death trial for ‘corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of ‘impiety’.  In the Athenian jury system, an “apology” is composed of three parts: a speech, followed by a counter-assessment, then some final words. ‘Apologia’ in Greek means defense and not regretting anything. 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 therefore should willingly meet his fate.

 We know these only because of his most famous student Plato, and from the memoirs of Xenophon, his wife. Socrates is described as having neglected his own affairs, instead spending his time discussing virtue, justice, and piety wherever his fellow citizens congregated, seeking wisdom about right conduct so that he might guide the moral and intellectual improvement of Athens. Using a method now known as the Socratic dialogue, or dialectic, he drew forth knowledge from his students by pursuing a series of questions and examining the implications of their answers. Socrates equated virtue with the knowledge of one’s true self, holding that no one knowingly does wrong. He looked upon the soul as the seat of both waking consciousness and moral character, and held the universe to be purposively mind-ordered. Very little is known on what Socrates did for a living. According to Timon, he took over the stonemasonry trade (a family business) although Xenophon’s version of the story suggests that he dedicated his life to philosophical discussion. Aristophanes’ writings describe Socrates running a sophist school and getting paid for it. Xenophon and Plato disagree with this saying that Socrates did not accept any payment for his teaching, with his poverty acting as proof of this fact. Socrates refused to enter politics because he could not tell other people how to lead their lives when he didn’t know how to live his own. He thought he was a philosopher of truth, which he had not fully discovered. In Plato’s dialogues he portrays Socrates as a soldier who served in the Athenian army and fought in the battles of Potidaea, Amphipolis, and Delium. His outlook on life of war and poverty got his mind questioning everything there is.

Here are some of his beliefs:

The Socratic Method is described in Plato’s ‘Socratic Dialogues’. The Socratic Method clarified the concepts of Good and Justice. If you have any problem, break it down to a series of questions and you find your required answer in those responses. This philosophy earned him the crown of father of political and moral leader in mainstream Western philosophy. The Socratic Method is so designed as to help examine one’s own beliefs and evaluate their worth. He was morally, intellectually and politically against the Athenians. When he was on trial for corrupting the mind of young Athenians he explained that while they are concerned about their families and careers, they would better be concerned about the ‘welfare of their souls’. He argued that virtue can be taught and that successful fathers do not necessarily produce successful sons and that moral excellence was more a matter of divine bequest than parental upbringing. I think this is a great way of thinking, but back then not many agreed. Instead—they were outraged.

“One’s deeds were a result of this level of intelligence and ignorance”.

 He constantly connected the ‘love of wisdom’ with ‘art of love’. It is debatable whether he believed that humans could become wise and believed wisdom is parallel to one’s ignorance. He was also very virtuous. Socrates believed that one must concentrate more on self-development than on material things. He encouraged people to develop friendships and love amongst themselves.

 “Humans possess certain basic philosophical or intellectual virtues and those virtues were the most valuable of all possessions. To act Good and to be truly good from within is different and virtue relates to the Goodness of the soul.”

.The influence of Socrates on modern society is hard to measure. A man who was the ultimate example of a person who lived by his principles, even though it ultimately cost him his life. Very few of us would do the same for what we believed in. Even twenty-four centuries after his death, Socrates is still influencing philosophers and students with his morals and ethics. I think this man will be remembered for ages. His thoughts and beliefs are something you want to stand by and nod your head in agreement. Something you want to rise up with. I was reading through his quotes, beliefs and virtues and there really is nothing that I find difficult about Socrates thinking. I agreed with his thoughts and actions and applaud him for his courage.





3 thoughts on “Socrates – Ramona

  1. Hi Ramona, thanks for this thorough introduction to Socrates and many of his ideas, beliefs and theories. How do you think the Socratic Method might help us engage in the study of Metaphysics? Are there elements of the questions, “What ‘is’?” “What is reality?” or “What is the self?” at the heart of Socrates’ theories?

    For instance, what conclusions can we draw about Socrates’ metaphysics from the quote included toward the end of your piece? “Humans possess certain basic philosophical or intellectual virtues and those virtues were the most valuable of all possessions. To act Good and to be truly good from within is different and virtue relates to the Goodness of the soul.”

    Great stuff so far – looking forward to seeing Socrates come to life in the coming week(s)!

    Mr. J

    Posted by Mr. J | October 9, 2013, 4:03 pm
  2. Mr. J,

    Socratic Method is a negative method of hypothesis elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those that lead to contradictions. It was designed to force one to examine one’s own beliefs and the validity of such beliefs.This method is helpful in the study of Metaphysics since it is the study of what if life, what is space what is living, etc, so its basically perfect for it since its literally the method of questioning. Questioning everything and anything, even beliefs you thought you had.
    Now, a conclusion we can draw from Socrates metaphysics of that quote is he thinks humans’ philosophy is there number one most valuable possesion. To be truely philosophical must come from goodness of the inside.
    Thanks for the comment!

    Posted by ramonakom | October 9, 2013, 6:01 pm
  3. Inspiring people from the very past. A teacher for many generations down the road.

    Posted by JJ Wong | October 26, 2013, 3:29 pm

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