Socrates was one of the considered greatest and controversial philosophers in the world. He was very well known for his statement. “All I know is that I know nothing”, in response to the words of the gods of Greece saying that there is no wise man other than Socrates (Zannos, 2005).Socrates had many followers who were amazed by his wisdom, but there were also people who despised him and his principles that led to his conviction. During the Peloponnesian War, Athens was defeated by the Spartans. Athenian government had a second thought whether a democratic government was the best form of government. Socrates was one of the critics of democracy then. He was accused of instigating the minds of the youth against the government. Instead of fleeing, he chose to remain and stick with his principles because Socrates believed that escaping was not an act of a true philosopher. He was sentenced to death in 399 B.C (Kemerling, 2006).
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Socrates spent most of his life conversing and discussing justice, right and wrong, love and wisdom. He was the pioneer of question-and-answer method that became popular and used in teaching until today (Bramhall). In teaching his students, Socrates does not give directly the facts or information instead, he ask questions. In this way, the students would either learn of the knowledge about it by answering the question or they would realize the limits on that knowledge ("Socratic Method," 2007).
Socrates opposed the material life and focused more on moral development. For Socrates, virtue cannot be taught. He added that knowledge and virtue are related to the actions of an individual. He examined carefully all information and analyzed their worth to people (Kemerling, 2006).Socrates did not have records of his own writings, books or any published materials. All the pieces of information about him were gathered from his followers such as Plato, Xenophon, and plays of Aristophanes (Kemerling, 2006). There were criticisms especially to the reliability of these facts about Socrates. Both Plato and Xenophon had learned of their own principles. On their accounts of Socrates, it would be hard to separate whose principles were.
According to Hamblet, Plato’s used of myths on his writings about Socrates changed or added more meaning to the life of Socrates. He argued that Greek Mythology applied to his books about Socrates could be a “valuable vehicle in conveying the truth” (Hamblet, 2003). Nevertheless of the critics, Socrates is undoubtedly one of the most influential philosophers in the world.Socrates was branded as the wisest man that ever lived according to the Greek gods. Some may agree with the gods, but some would not do especially the Sophists. The Sophists was composed of teachers from Greece. They are known for their clever speeches that they used in persuading people (Zannos, 2005)
I believe that Socrates is a wise man, but whether the wisest or not, he is still wise. Wise in such a way that he chose to live a simple and humble life, contended with all the simple things he had. He was happy even though he was not rich. He found the real meaning of life and was not afraid of death because he had the idea of human immortality. He was persecuted and tried, but he chose to remain standing on his principles. Integrity, if broken, cannot be sealed again. Maybe that is one of Socrates’ principles.
Socrates was a man full of wisdom. His words have deep meanings. His statement, “All I know is that I know nothing” was not as literal as it was said. What he meant was that we shouldn’t arrive to a conclusion that we know “it” already without even analyzing it (Bramhall). He used the question-and-answer method to demonstrate that asking questions is better than having all the answers. Through questioning, a person would understand things and how things are. He believed that understanding is the foundation of wisdom and through wisdom, man can achieve contentment.
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