Socrates

Socrates is a noteworthy and important historical figure as a philosopher,
because of his and his pupils’ influence on the development of the
philosophical world. His teachings, famous arguments, and ideas began the
outgrowth of all later western philosophies. Born in 469 BC just outside of

Athens, Socrates was brought up properly, and thoroughly educated. He was raised
as most Athenians; developing both physical and mental strengths. Socrates then
went on to learn from Archelaus the philosopher. Here he studied astronomy,
mathematics, and was introduced to philosophy, which was a new concept at the
time. Archelaus taught of explanations for the world with a scientific approach.

Socrates, however, turned away from this idea and created his own. He decided
that instead of trying to understand the universe, a person should try to
understand himself. To express his philosophy, Socrates spent his days in the
marketplace of Athens, telling people of his ideas. His voice was heard, and he
was soon declared to be the wisest of all men. Socrates’ was skilled in the
art of arguing. He developed a method by which he would win every debate. His
favorite hobby was going to the marketplace and debating philosophical issues
with other men in front of an audience. The result of these debates was that

Socrates embarrassed the wise men in front of the crowd. This caused many to
dislike him. After being named the wisest man, Socrates attempted to prove that
this was not true. He debated with many men in the streets. These debates are
some of his most famous argument methods. He started the discussion by stating
that he knew nothing. As a result of the debate, he was able to prove that
although his opponents claimed that they were wise, they knew nothing either.

Socrates concluded that he really was the wisest man because unlike the others,
he knew that he knew nothing. Socrates had many ideas and philosophies
concerning issues other than the knowledge of oneself. These included
explanations of the universe, the belief in god, and life’s goals. Other,
earlier philosophers, had many different interpretation for the makeup of the
world. Some believed that it was made out of numbers, others thought that it was
made of a single substance, or many different substances, while still
conflicting philosophers theorized that everything was formed out of atoms, and
even illusions. Socrates had his own, different ideas. He believed that the
world was made of forms that are not within the reach of our senses, but only of
our thoughts. This means, for example, that when we think of characteristics
such as roundness, we only picture ideas of it like a ball or a wheel.

Therefore, he assumed that we only understand specific things that participate
in our lives. In his search for the inner truth of oneself, Socrates theorized
the explanation to the question of what the goals of life are. He concluded that
everyone tries to find the meaning of happiness and goodness in their existence.

This is the purpose of life. However, true happiness comes in many forms and is
disguised in a way that people spend their lives looking for goodness, but
finding only the evil in which it is concealed. The only way to discover true
happiness, goodness, and the right way, is to fully understand oneself. Socrates
did not believe in the Greek gods or religion. He had his personal view of god.

Socrates felt that there must be some form of divine power because everyone
seemed to believe in some kind of god and religion. He also believed in a sort
of immortality. He hypothesized that there was an afterlife. His explanation for
it was that people who had achieved goodness in their lives knew where they were
going afterwards, and that evil people tried to ignore the fact that immortality
existed. He preached that the soul was a person’s true being, and that our
goodness in life reflected on the goodness of our souls. According to Socrates,
each individual should try to make his soul as moral as possible so that it can
be like god, which will allow the achievement of an afterlife. Debating in the
marketplace of Athens was not Socrates’ only daily activity. He also taught
his philosophies to a group of students in a small classroom. These students
were much like disciples. They respected and followed in the philosophies of
their teacher. Socrates’ most famous pupil, Plato, went on to become a great
philosopher like his mentor. Socrates lived through and fought in the

Peloponnesian War. After Athens’ defeat, the democracy was replaced by a
tyranny.