Socrates – Essay Example
Socrates is regarded as a pioneer and one of the founding fathers of Western Philosophy. Born in Ancient Greece, most of his life was undocumented. He also did not write any books. The only well known accounts of the life of Socrates are told by Aristophanes, Xenophon and, most importantly, Plato, who gives a “satisfactory, and perhaps a more complete representation of what Socrates was” (Koffman, 1998; 41). According to Plato, Socrates was born around 469BC to Sophroniscus and Phaenarete. He grew up to be a mason like his father, but also served in the Athenian army.
But his fame (and notoriety) was to come from the subject of philosophy. Socrates courted controversy throughout his ‘career’, especially with his take on issues of virtue, knowledge, politics etc. For example, he believed that evil is committed out of ignorance, and that “his wisdom was limited to an awareness of his own ignorance (Wikipedia).”
As stated above, Socrates never wrote his beliefs; therefore he has no documented works – he is largely perceived by the modern world through the eyes of Plato. However, perhaps his greatest achievement and legacy to modern philosophy is what is known today as the Socratic Method. “This term,” explain Brickhouse & Smith, “refers to someone who teaches by asking his or her students leading questions – compelling them to think their way through to the correct understanding of the subject matter.”
Centuries after his death, Socrates remains relevant to Ancient and Modern day Greece, in that, after his death, his students ”set to work both on exercising their perceptions of his teachings in politics and also on developing many new philosophical schools of thought” (Wikipedia). Also, the Socratic Method is still used in schools and considered very effective in analyzing complex questions, especially in the humanities.
Brickhouse, C. & Smith, D. “Plato’s Socrates.” Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1996. p3
Kofman, Sarah. “Socrates: Fictions of a Philosopher.” Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 1998. p41
“Socrates.” Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates