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Socrates

(469-399BC) Greek Philosopher of Athens


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Socrates, the celebrated Greek philosopher and moralist, is best known today through his appearance in the Dialogues of Plato. Socrates left no writings behind him, and indeed was by his principles precluded from dogmatic exposition. The only records we have of the life Socrates are through the previously mentioned Dialogues, and the records and works of Xenophon, a noted Ancient Greek historian. Xenophon having no philosophical views of his own to develop, and no imagination to lead him astray is an excellent witness. Plato, though he understood his master better, is a less trustworthy authority, as he makes Socrates the mouthpiece of his own more advanced and even antagonistic doctrine.

Yet to all appearance The Apology is a careful and exact account of Socrates’s habits and principles of action; the earlier dialogues, those which are commonly called "Socratic," represent Socrates’ method; and if in the later and more important dialogues the doctrine is the doctrine of Plato, echoes of the master’s teaching are still discoverable, approving themselves as such by their accord with the Xenophonean testimony. It is in the face of these two principal witnesses that The Life of Socrates may be constructed.


He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.


By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you will become very happy; if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher - and that is good for every man.


If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be content to take their own and depart.


Be slow to fall into friendship, but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.


Let him that would move the world, first move himself.


To find yourself, think for yourself.


False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.


Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity.


The perfect human being is all human beings put together, it is a collective, it is all of us together that make perfection.


True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. And in knowing that you know nothing, that makes you the smartest of all.


What you cannot enforce, do not command.