. 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 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.
By means of beauty all beautiful things become beautiful. For this appears to me the safest answer to give both to myself and others; and adhering to this, I think that I shall never fall, but that it is a safe answer both for me and any one else to give — that by means of beauty beautiful things become beautiful.
False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
In every one of us there are two ruling and directing principles, whose guidance we follow wherever they may lead; the one being an innate desire of pleasure; the other, an acquired judgment which aspires after excellence.
Oh dear Pan and all the other Gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him.
Has a philosopher like you failed to discover that our country is more to be valued and higher and holier far than mother or father or any ancestor, and more to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men of understanding?
As for me, all I know is that I know nothing, for when I don't know what justice is, I'll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy.
When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself: I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.
And how is not this the most reprehensible ignorance, to think that one knows what one does not know? But I, O Athenians! in this, perhaps, differ from most men; and if I should say that I am in any thing wiser than another, it would be in this, that not having a competent knowledge of the things in Hades, I also think that I have not such knowledge.
The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being. (ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi — ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ)
I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.