Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo These four dialogues present the trial, imprisonment, and execution of Socrates who Phaedo said was “the wisest, best, and most righteous person I have ever known.” In the Euthyphro, Socrates approaches the court where he will be tried on... read more
The life and teachings of Socrates (c. 469-399 B.C.) stand at the foundation of Western philosophy. He lived in Athens during a time of transition (Athens' defeat at the hands of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) ended the Golden Age of Athenian civilization) and had a tremendous... read more
The life and teachings of Socrates (c. 469-399 B.C.) stand at the foundation of Western philosophy. He lived in Athens during a time of transition (Athens' defeat at the hands of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) ended the Golden Age of Athenian civilization) and had a tremendous influence on the Athenian youth of his day. Socrates himself never recorded his thoughts, so our only record of his life and thought come from his contemporaries. These accounts are mixed and often biased by the interpretations the author wishes to place on Socrates.
It seems that Socrates led a very simple life, renouncing wealth and holding himself aloof from political ambitions, preferring instead to mingle with the crowds in Athens' public places, engaging whomever he could in conversation. Nonetheless, we know that he did serve as a hoplite (heavy infantry) in several battles during the Peloponnesian War and that he was distinguished for his bravery. In 399, Socrates was brought before a jury of around 500 Athenians on charges of not recognizing the gods recognized by the state, of inventing new deities, and of corrupting the youth of Athens.
The most likely reason for this trial is Socrates' close association with a number of men who had fallen out of political favor in Athens. But because an amnesty had been declared for political offenders, other charges had to be brought against him. Socrates was found guilty by a narrow margin and then sentenced to death. Socrates' response to the charges brought against him are recorded by Plato in The Apology.
Plato (c. 427-347 B.C.) was one of Socrates' greatest admirers, and our knowledge of Socrates stems mostly from Plato's dialogues (for other accounts, see Aristophanes' satirical presentation in The Clouds and the writings of Xenophon). Plato was born into a prominent Athenian family, and would have been expected to pursue a career in politics. However, the short-lived Spartan- imposed oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants (404-403) and the trial and execution of his mentor Socrates led Plato to become disgusted with the Athenian political life, and he devoted himself instead to teaching and philosophical inquiry. To that end, he founded the Academy around 385 B.C., which counted Aristotle among its students. The Academy lasted in some form until 527 A.D., 912 years in total, and has served as the prototype for the Western university system.
Plato's thought is mostly recorded in the form of dialogues that feature Socrates as the protagonist. Apparently, the Socratic dialogue was a small literary genre at the time: not just Plato, but many of Socrates' other students recorded philosophical debates in this form. Though we can't be certain as to the specific dates of composition, Plato's dialogues can generally be classed into early, middle, and late periods. The early dialogues were written soon after Socrates' death, and in them we get the clearest picture of Socrates and Socratic philosophy. As Plato matured, however, he developed an increasingly distinct voice and philosophical outlook. The figure of Socrates in these middle and late dialogues (The Republic and Phaedo are two exemplary works of the more mature Plato) becomes more of a mouthpiece for Plato's own views. The Euthyphro is one of Plato's earlier dialogues, in which we find none of his more characteristic doctrines, but rather an attempt to present Socrates the teacher. Instead of positive doctrines or ideas, the dialogue is characterized by the use of Socratic irony in an attempt to teach others to recognize their own ignorance.
“Good, Sir, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city with the greatest reputation for both wisdom and power; are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom or truth, or the best possible state of your soul?”
“I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know.”Highlighted by 38 Kindle customers
Socrates is guilty of wrongdoing in that he busies himself studying things in the sky and below the earth; he makes the worse into the stronger argument, and he teaches these same things to others.Highlighted by 31 Kindle customers
It is not difficult to avoid death, [b] gentlemen; it is much more difficult to avoid wickedness, for it runs faster than death.Highlighted by 24 Kindle customers
Well then, what is dear to the gods is pious, what is  not is impious.Highlighted by 22 Kindle customers
Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods?Highlighted by 22 Kindle customers
“This man among you, mortals, is wisest who, like Socrates, understands that his wisdom is worthless.”Highlighted by 19 Kindle customers
pious is to do what I am doing now, to prosecute the wrongdoer, be it about murder or temple robbery or [e] anything else, whether the wrongdoer is your father or your mother or anyone else; not to prosecute is impious.Highlighted by 19 Kindle customers
I think, Socrates, that the godly and pious is the part of the just that is concerned with the care of the gods, while that concerned with the care of men is the remaining part of justice.Highlighted by 16 Kindle customers
Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and of not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other new spiritual things.Highlighted by 15 Kindle customers
Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.”13Highlighted by 10 Kindle customers
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