Socrates has been and still is the leader of thinking for generations. His particular way of thinking was the origin of Western philosophy today. Socrates did not record any of his encounters or dialogues. His followers were the ones who are now held responsible for recording his dialogues and life experiences. In this essay I will, obviously, be basing my knowledge off the writings of Socrates’ followers. I feel I could write a much better essay if Socrates had written his own works.
Socrates was born in 470 B.C. in Athens, Greece. The conversations between Socrates, Plato, and Xenophon were all that were recorded. There were probably hundreds of other conversations between Socrates and other young men that were potentially brilliant, but they are lost forever. The plays written by Aristophones sometimes portrayed Socrates’ works and dialogues. None of these were directly written for the purpose of preserving the life of Socrates for the knowledge of future generations, so they are not a very good source of accuracy for the life of Socrates. However, they show Socrates’ unique personality.
Socrates was born of Sophroniscus, a sculptor and stone mason, and Phaenarete. They were not a rich family so Socrates could not go to great schools for amazing education. So he apprenticed his father in sculpting and got the average Greek education. Socrates married Xanthippe and had three sons who went by the names Lamprocles, Sophroniscus, and Menexenus. Socrates’ wife always whined and worried about how his “job” as a philosopher was not supporting the family financially. (This could be true whether he accepted money for his teachings or not.) Someone recorded Socrates saying that he paid more attention to his young Athenian followers than his own three children when they were growing up.
The entirety of Athens was Socrates’ realm of teaching. He asked both common people and members of the elite questions, trying to find political and ethical truths. Socrates never led a class like modern-day classrooms; he would not give lectures, but allow the people he asked questions to teach themselves with their answers. Socrates called himself ignorant because he did not have any ideas, but he claimed his wisdom from his realization of his ignorance. The Socratic Method included first knowing yourself. Then you would be questioned with a question that would seemingly have one answer. The questioner would then logically argue the your answer. It would make you think and sometimes make you look stupid. When the elite were questioned and embarrassingly made to look stupid, they most definitely hated it. This is where some people jumped off of the fence to either the side where they hated Socrates or the side where they admired and followed Socrates.
Socrates was in the armored infantry in the Peloponnesian Wars at Delium, Potidaea, and Amphipolis. In Potidaea, he saved the life of general Alcibiades. Socrates was brave, honorable, and wouldn’t back down to a fight. He did not retreat from battles that could potentially lead to death and he didn’t run away from his “execution” (I put quotation marks around “execution” because Socrates’ teachings lived much longer after the death of Socrates).
Plato’s Symposium defines Socrates’ physical features. He was not the epitome of the human body but Socrates denied the importance of physical beauty. Even Socrates’ followers agreed that Socrates was attractive, not physically, but mentally. Socrates knew the importance of knowledge and ideas. Plato then wrote about two separate worlds including a world of ideas and a world of senses.
Socrates believed in a system run by human reason rather than theological teaching. He