Philosophy of Socrates

02.05.2015 |

Episode #4 of the course “Brief history of Ancient philosophy”

Socrates was a philosopher from Athens, one of the many city-states in ancient Greece in the late fifth century BCE. He is most often credited with beginning the study of knowledge and wisdom, and for questioning traditional beliefs. One of Socrates’ most famous sayings is, “If there is one thing I know, it is that I know nothing.” In what has come to be known as the Socratic method, Socrates would ask people a series of questions to make them answer with their own thoughts and explanations.

Not much is known about Socrates’ life, and current knowledge comes through the writings of his most famous student, Plato. At approximately 40 years old, Socrates was teaching in the streets by engaging people in conversations about different ethical and spiritual issues. He openly debated questions of belief and logic like no one else. Socrates drew negative attention for this and was eventually arrested for “corrupting the youth.” Because Socrates refused to stop, he was sentenced to death and chose to drink poison.

Plato attributed a well-known story to Socrates, which demonstrates the frustration and other emotions that the great thinker felt at trying to open the minds of his fellow Greeks. In this famous “Allegory of the Cave,” a man is tied in place in a cave, watching shadows play on the walls. When he is freed from the cave and travels outside, he is blinded and awestruck by the beauty of the world. Having learned about new experiences that exist outside the cave, he returns to tell other people who are still tied inside. However, when he tries to share his new knowledge with them, they kill him.


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