see it clearly

Have you ever wondered about Socrates teachings and philosophies? Do you know anything about his life? Let’s look at the life of Socrates as well as his teachings and philosophies.


The Life and Times of Socrates

Socrates was born in Greece around 469 B. C. and died in 399 B.C. He was the son of Sophroniscus, who was a sculptor, and Phaenarete, who was a midwife. Historians know little about his early life, but do know that he was trained as a sculptor, but did not continue in that field. Historians know that he was a soldier who served during the Peloponnesian War. After the war, he worked as a stone mason to support his wife, Xanthippe, and their three children.

As a young man, he studied under Archelaus and was very interested in the scientific teachings of Anaxagoras. However, he later left his studies of the physical world to devote himself to the investigation of the concept of morality. After he inherited a small fortune from his father, he was able to give his full attention to philosophical pursuits.

Just like other famous teachers throughout history, his beliefs made enemies. He was accused of denying the gods and corrupting the youth. He refused to defend himself before the tribunal, and was judged guilty by a small majority. While awaiting execution, he engaged in a famous dialogue on the immortality of the soul. He died after drinking hemlock at the age of 71, surrounded by friends and disciples.

Socrates Teachings

One endearing thing about Socrates is that he realized that he knew nothing. The fact that he was aware of his own ignorance made him wise. Socrates used philosophy to help discover how we should live in order to be happy and fulfilled. To better understand Socrates, you should begin by examining the three major concepts in Socrates teachings.

Socrates felt that life is not worth living unless you examine your life to know whom you are, what you believe, and what you want to become. To know yourself should be a major undertaking in your life. If a person is happy simply to exist, then what is the point of life?

Secondly, Socrates felt it was imperative to care for your soul. He believed that the soul is who you really are. It is your character; the real you. Intelligence is based on the condition of your soul because it is the basis for your decisions, values, and viewpoint. Therefore, if you are not constantly learning and gaining wisdom, your soul will not be healthy. Socrates felt that introspection was the way to a healthy soul, and that many people never realized their true potential.

Lastly, Socrates taught that a truly good person is incapable of being harmed by others. He did not mean this in the physical way, but in a spiritual way. If your core, or soul, is good, then physical things will not change it. We can change our soul ourselves if we change our beliefs or values, but outward forces cannot.

The Socratic Method

Socrates taught people that self-understanding was the way to happiness, so he was more of a guide than a teacher. He used the philosophical approach to help people turn inward, and in so doing, to better themselves. The Socratic Method is one of the most important things to come out of Socrates teachings.

The Socratic Method is like a debate between people with opposite viewpoints, who ask and answer questions. It follows logical reasoning and stimulates critical thinking. Many times irony is used to show the other party that they are not thinking clearly. For example, here is a dialogue that could have happened:

Socrates, “What is justice?”
Student, “The gods are just.”
Socrates, “So many justices. I ask, ‘what is justice’ and you bring me justices.”

What Socrates is doing is focusing the student’s mind to see common elements present in certain things, like the concept of justice being a part of the gods. This way, his students figured out concepts on their own, rather than just waiting for Socrates to tell them.