469 B.C.
399 B.C.

Greek Athenian Classical Philosopher, credited as one of the founders of Western Philosophy known chiefly through the accounts of his students Plato and Xenophon because Socrates left no writings of his own

Author Quotes

When a simple man who has no skill in dialectics believes an argument to be true which he afterwords imagines to be false, whether really false or not, and then another and another, he no longer has any faith left, and great disputers, as you know, come to think, at last that they have grown to be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the utter unsoundness and instability of all arguments, or, indeed, of all things, which like the currents in the Euripus, are going up and down in never-ceasing ebb and flow.

When desire, having rejected reason and overpowered judgment which leads to right, is set in the direction of the pleasure which beauty can inspire, and when again under the influence of its kindred desires it is moved with violent motion towards the beauty of corporeal forms, it acquires a surname from this very violent motion, and is called love.

When does the soul obtain truth??for in attempting to consider anything in company with the body she is obviously deceived...Then must not existence be revealed to her in thought, if at all?... And thought is best when the mind is gathered into herself and none of these things trouble her?neither sounds nor sights nor pain nor any pleasure?when she has as little as possible to do with the body, and has no bodily sense or feeling, but is aspiring after being?... And in this the philosopher dishonors the body; his soul runs away from the body and desires to be alone and by herself?

Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.

When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself: I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.

Well I am certainly wiser than this man. It is only too likely that neither of us has any knowledge to boast of; but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.

When I was young, Cebes, I had a prodigious desire to know the department of philosophy which is called Natural Science; this appeared to me to have lofty aims, as being the science which has to do with the causes of things, and which teaches why a thing is, and is created and destroyed; and I always agitated myself with the consideration of such questions as these... I went on to examine the decay of them, and then to the study of the heaven and earth, and at last I concluded that I was wholly incapable of these inquiries... There was a time when I thought that I understood the meaning of greater and less pretty well... that ten is more than eight, and that two cubits are more than one, because two is twice one. I should be far from imagining... that I knew the cause of any of them, indeed I should, for I cannot satisfy myself that when one is added to one, the one to which the addition is made becomes two... nor can I understand how the division of one is the way to make two; for then a different cause would produce the same effect.

Well, although I do not suppose that either of us know anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is- for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know.

When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you to trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing ? then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands.

Well, my art of midwifery is in most respects like theirs; but differs, in that I attend men and not women; and look after their souls when they are in labor, and not after their bodies: and the triumph of my art is in thoroughly examining whether the thought which the mind of the young man brings forth is a false idol or a noble and true birth. And like the mid-wives, I am barren, and the reproach which is often made against me, that I ask questions of others and have not the wit to answer them myself, is very just-the reason is, that the god compels-me to be a midwife, but does not allow me to bring forth. And therefore I am not myself at all wise, nor have I anything to show which is the invention or birth of my own soul, but those who converse with me profit.

Well, then, let?s not just trust the likelihood based on painting.

What a lot of things there are a man can do without

What about someone who believes in beautiful things but doesn't believe in the beautiful itself and isn't able to follow anyone who could lead him to the knowledge of it? Don't you think he is living in a dream rather than a wakened state? Isn't this dreaming: whether asleep or awake, to think that a likeness is not a likeness but rather the thing itself that it is like?

What do you say about making a libation out of this cup to any god? ...I may and I must pray to the gods to prosper my journey from this to that other world?may this, then, which is my prayer, be granted to me. [Then holding the cup to his lips, quite readily and cheerfully he drank off the poison. And hitherto most of us had been able to control their sorrow; but now, when we saw him drinking, and saw too, that he had finished the draft, we could no longer forbear, and in spite of myself my own tears were flowing fast; so that I covered my face and wept over myself, for certainly I was not weeping over him, but at my own calamity at having lost such a companion. Nor was I the first, for Crito, when he found himself unable to restrain his tears, had got up, and moved away, and I followed; and at that moment, Apollodorus, who had been weeping all the time, broke out in a loud cry which made cowards of us all. Socrates alone retained his calmness:] What is this strange outcry? ...I sent away the women mainly in order that they might not offend in this way, for I have heard that a man should die in peace. Be quiet then, and have patience.

What I do not know, I do not think I know.

What is that the inherence of which, will render the body alive? [The soul.] ...Then whatever the soul possesses, to that she comes bearing life? ...And is there an opposite to life? [Death.] Then the soul, as she has been acknowledged, will never receive the opposite of what she brings...And what do we call the principle which does not admit of death? [The immortal.] And does the soul admit of death? [No.] Then the soul is immortal? [Yes.]

What most counts is not to live, but to live aright.

What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it's supposed to be.

What you cannot enforce, do not command.

Wealth does not bring about excellence (aka aret‚), but excellence (aka aret‚) brings about wealth and all other public and private blessings for men.

Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.

Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the state.

Virtue is the nursing-mother of all human pleasures, who, in rendering them just, renders them also pure and permanent; in moderating them, keeps them in breath and appetite; in interdicting those which she herself refuses, whets our desires to those that she allows; and, like a kind and liberal mother, abundantly allows all that nature requires, even to satiety, if not to lassitude.

Wars and revolutions and battles are due simply and solely to the body and its desires. All wars are undertaken for the acquisition of wealth; and the reason why we have to acquire wealth is the body, because we are slaves in its service.

Wars, factions, and fighting, said Socrates as he looked forward from his last hour, have no other origin than this same body and its lusts... We must set the soul free from it; we must behold things as they are. And having thus got rid of the foolishness of the body, we shall be pure and hold converse with the pure, and shall in our own selves have complete knowledge of the Incorruptible which is, I take it, no other than the very truth.

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Birth Date
469 B.C.
Death Date
399 B.C.

Greek Athenian Classical Philosopher, credited as one of the founders of Western Philosophy known chiefly through the accounts of his students Plato and Xenophon because Socrates left no writings of his own