by Kayla from Marathon, Wisconsin

"The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates
Sought to uncover universal truth and knowledge (
Sought to uncover universal truth and knowledge (

Socrates is one of the most famous and original philosophers and teachers in history. Socrates redirected philosophy towards a consideration of moral problems and how people should best live their lives. He pushed the limits of science, literacy, and philosophy, fitting the definition of a true "renaissance man".

Socrates was born in 470 B.C. in Athens, Greece. His mother, Phaenarete, was a midwife, and his father, Sophroniscus, was a sculptor. Growing up around the family business, Socrates spent his time studying sculpture. He soon abandoned his works to "seek truth in his own way (Encyclopedia Britannica)."

In his mid years, Socrates served as a foot soldier in the Peloponnesian War. He was described as brave and fearless, for he saved the life of General Alcibiades. Other than being a war hero, Socrates was a philosopher and teacher. He was inspired by the Philosophical School of Thought located in Athens. People who belonged to this school were called Sophists. They believed that "there can be no universal truth and no reliable knowledge (Bowen)." Socrates soon set off to challenge these ideas.

Although Socrates had a wife and three children, he spent most of his time wandering the streets of Athens. He would ask people questions on moral character and criticize their answers. Socrates would ask people, "What is courage?" His mission was the pursuit of truth. These questions were among the first attempt to arrive at the definitions of terms on moral character. Socrates' style of conversation was later known as Socratic Dialogue.

Being a teacher, Socrates taught people to question things and think for themselves. He believed that "life is worthless unless you question things." This new philosophical way of thinking was a stride towards new knowledge and a new understanding of things. His way of teaching was known as the Socratic Method.

Some people felt threatened by Socrates criticizing their way of life and uncertain future. Socrates was put on trial for corrupting the minds of the young. He pleaded not guilty and tried to explain that he was only trying to promote moral, knowledgeable, citizens. His reasoning did not persuade the judges. Socrates was sentenced to death in 399 B.C. by drinking the poison hemlock. Socrates willingly did so. "He said that he was a loyal citizen of Athens and obeyed all laws including those who sentenced him to death ("

Socrates' way of philosophy changed the way people thought. His works showed that knowledge is gained by the questioning of things. Socrates was not only known for the method in which he developed, but also his topic of teaching. "He said that the most important thing in life is the moral character of your soul (WorldBook)." We see Socrates' methods being used a lot in today's world. One place where we see his philosophical methods being performed is at schools. Here, we learn by asking questions, and the more we question things, the more we learn. At school we are taught to think for ourselves, just like how Socrates taught his students. It is not only at schools where you can see his methods being used, but they also play a role in our everyday lives.

Socrates, with a different mindset, thought outside the box. He depicted moral character and redirected learning in a new direction where nobody had ever set foot in before. Although he lived 2,500 years ago, his inspiring tactics on learning, live on through today's world. Socrates pushed the limits of science, literacy, and philosophy, making him well deserving of the title "renaissance man".

Page created on 11/26/2013 11:27:36 AM

Last edited 1/6/2017 7:27:33 PM

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Related Links

Socrates- Philosophy Pages - History of western philosophy
Socrates, Plato, and Arostotle - The history of philosophy

Extra Info

Socrates was the first of the three great teachers. Other famous teachers like Plato, Aristotle, and Xenophon were students of Socrates. All were inspired by his great teachings. Everything about Socrates was written down by Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle because it was said to be that Socrates had not taken record or published any teachings, thoughts, or ideas.