The Philosophy of Socrates: Everyone should know

The Philosophy of Socrates: Everyone should know 3


Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher who is widely regarded as one of the founders of Western philosophy. Born in Athens around 469 BCE, Socrates did not leave behind any writings of his own. Most of what we know about his philosophy and ideas comes from the accounts of his students, primarily Plato and Xenophon.

Socratic Method:

One of Socrates’ most notable contributions to philosophy is the Socratic Method, which is a form of inquiry and dialogue used to stimulate critical thinking and to expose the contradictions in someone’s beliefs. Instead of providing answers or doctrines, Socrates would engage in a series of probing questions with his interlocutors, forcing them to examine their own assumptions and reasoning. The goal was to lead them to a state of aporia, or intellectual perplexity, where they would realize their ignorance and the limitations of their knowledge.

“Know Thyself”:

Socrates emphasized the importance of self-knowledge and self-examination. He famously stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He believed that by questioning our beliefs and values, we can come to a deeper understanding of ourselves and lead more fulfilling lives. Socrates encouraged individuals to engage in critical introspection and to question their own assumptions and biases.

Virtue and Ethics:

Socrates was interested in questions of ethics and moral virtue. He believed that all human beings desire happiness and that true happiness can only be achieved through the pursuit of virtue. According to Socrates, virtue is not merely a matter of following social conventions or customs but is based on knowledge and understanding. He argued that people are inherently good but may act wrongly due to ignorance. By gaining knowledge and wisdom, individuals can overcome their ignorance and act in accordance with virtue.

Irony and Humility:

Socrates was known for his ironic and humble approach to philosophy. He often claimed to be ignorant, stating that he knew nothing. This was not a sign of genuine ignorance but rather a way to open up a dialogue and encourage others to question their own knowledge. Socrates believed that true wisdom lies in recognizing one’s own limitations and being open to learning from others.


Socrates’ philosophical ideas had a profound influence on subsequent Western philosophy. His emphasis on critical thinking, self-examination, and the pursuit of virtue laid the foundation for the Socratic tradition. His student, Plato, further developed these ideas in his own philosophical works, such as “The Republic.” Socrates’ legacy also extends to the field of ethics, where his ideas on moral virtue and the importance of self-reflection continue to be studied and debated.

It is important to note that much of what we know about Socrates and his philosophy comes from the works of Plato, and there is ongoing scholarly debate about the extent to which the ideas attributed to Socrates accurately reflect his own views. Nonetheless, Socrates remains a central figure in the history of philosophy, known for his relentless pursuit of truth and his commitment to intellectual inquiry.

Read also: Aristotle: Biography and Analysis of Poetry,

Leave a Reply