Classical World Resources
Socrates (c.470-399 B.C.) of Athens, was perhaps the most original, influential and controversial thinker in the history of Greek thought. We know very little about his early life. His father was a stone cutter and his mother was a midwife. He died in 399 by drinking hemlock after having been condemned to death for "not believing in the gods the state believes in, and introducing different new divine powers; and also for corrupting the young," according to Plato's Apology and Xenophon's Apology. Before Socrates, Greek philosophy is referred to as pre-Socratic -- Socrates is the lynch pin, or orientation point for most philosophers who followed him, but especially his student Plato. A major problem -- it's actually called the Socratic Problem -- exists because Socrates wrote nothing. What we know about this most noble human comes to us from the dialogues of Plato and accounts by Xenophon and others.
The life and teachings of Socrates illuminates man's quest for wisdom. Ironically, Socrates claimed to be a wise man because he himself knew nothing. Meanwhile, he was surrounded by people who claimed to know everything. But after conversing with Socrates, they too realized that they knew nothing at all. This is the first step toward human wisdom. "Know thyself."
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copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis