Socrates ( /ˈsɒkrətiːz/; Greek: Σωκράτης, Ancient Greek pronunciation:, Sōkrátēs; c. 469 BC – 399 BC) was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes. Many would claim that Plato's dialogues are the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity.
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 also 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 are asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. It is Plato's Socrates that also made important and lasting contributions to the fields of epistemology and logic, and the influence of his ideas and approach remains strong in providing a foundation for much western philosophy that followed.
Famous quotes containing the word socrates:
“Well encounter opposition, wont we, if we give women the same education that we give to men, Socrates says to Galucon. For then wed have to let women ... exercise in the company of men. And we know how ridiculous that would seem. ... Convention and habit are womens enemies here, and reason their ally.”
—Martha Nussbaum (b. 1947)
“As an example of just how useless these philosophers are for any practice in life there is Socrates himself, the one and only wise man, according to the Delphic Oracle. Whenever he tried to do anything in public he had to break off amid general laughter. While he was philosophizing about clouds and ideas, measuring a fleas foot and marveling at a midges humming, he learned nothing about the affairs of ordinary life.”
—Desiderius Erasmus (c. 14661536)
“Only Socrates knew, after a lifetime of unceasing labor, that he was ignorant. Now every high-school student knows that. How did it become so easy?”
—Allan Bloom (19301992)