ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Philosophy of Socrates

Updated on January 20, 2011

Born in Athens at the peak of the Athenian civilization. Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were his contemporaries. He served for several years as a soldier. As a member of the Athenian Senate, he refused to connive in the murder of political enemies of the Government and was later brought to trial on a false charge of "introducing new religious practices and corrupting the young". He was sentenced to death. Socrates was acclaimed as the greatest of the Greek philosophers and thinkers.

The unexamined life is not worth living.


470 BC to 399 BC

Greek thinker and founder of Western philosophy. Socrates committed none of his thinkings to writing. It was only through his pupil Plato that we know his ideas. And it is difficult in the later Plato to distinguish between his own thoughts and those of Socrates.

Socrates lived in Athens, where he questioned fellow citizens on how they should live their lives. 'Know thyself' was his principal axiom, and he believe in the unity of beauty, truth and virtue. It was impossible, Socrates held, to know what was good and not pursue it.

Socrates, the first great Athenian philosopher, taught that the key to a good life lay in moral worth and the practice of virtue, and saw it as his duty to make other citizens aware of the ignorance of the true good.

Socrates wrote nothing down; all we know of his teaching comes from the philosophy of his pupil Plato, who was not quite 30 when Socrates was put to death.

All Plato's major works are in dialogue form, and the main speaker is usually Socrates. It is assumed that in the earlier dialogues this character is the real historical Socrates, while in the later ones he represents Plato's mature development of the teachings of Socrates. The continuity of thought makes it impossible to tell where Socrates leaves off and Plato begins.

Throughout his career Plato remained convinced by the teachings of Socrates, and continued to identify virtue with knowledge. However, the corresponding belief - that evil is inevitably done by the ignorant was probably the basis of Plato's distrust of democracy, for a democracy had convicted Socrates.

Career cut short

Socrates thought all wrongdoing was due to ignorance. But in trying to make his fellow citizens aware of their ignorance, he incurred much personal resentment; this led to his trial and conviction on a charge of impiety and corrupting the young with his teaching.

Awaiting execution he continued to discuss philosophy with his friends and pupils. He refused to take advantage of a plan for his escape, electing instead to drink the hemlock handed to him by the executioner.

Plato was so shocked by the death of Socrates that he abandoned the political career he had planned, developing a distrust of Greek democracy which was reflected in much of his political philosophy.

The Death of Socrates
The Death of Socrates


  • The New International Illustrated Encyclopaedia, Volume 6, 1954
  • Library of Essential Knowledge, Volume 2, Readers Digest, 1980
  • Pictorial Knowledge, Volume 10, circa 1950, Newnes


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Why allow dubious characters like Newt Gingrich to advertise his name and portrait on a Hub page dedicated to the person recognised for thousands of years and by a great many not only as the iconic father of Western philosophical thought but also as possibly the first person to whom the West owes a set of moral imperatives which place the truth at the pinnacle thereof, worth dying for? Till Socrates came to Athens, it was the practicality of human behaviour that transcended both West and East philosophy, elevating an ends-justifies-the-means mindset to dominance over all other mindsets. Newt's entire career illustrates his reliance on and devotion to pre-Socratic admiration for what works rather than what the sublime could bring, what profits the individual rather than the collective, and what satisfies the beast lurking in man's heart rather than what he can offer for the betterment of his kind.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      well hi was the man

    • profile image

      Kingslin Joshuva 

      7 years ago

      Socrates was an uneducated man, but his thinking and Knowledge has made him the Philosopher of this World....Thanks to Plato who made his Philosophy reachable to the World.

    • profile image

      Kolawole enoch 

      8 years ago

      Socrate is my icon, a great thinker from anthen.

    • profile image

      banjo idris 

      8 years ago

      you owe the rooster rhetus critos don't forget to pay our debt

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Socrates definatly had the right to say what he said, he got killed for questioning the Athens??????? Killed-for questioning his OWN TOWN!!!!!!!!!!

      What a shame!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Socrates was a greek thinker and philosopher.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Plato is a socrates student

    • profile image

      Saidu Rehman 

      8 years ago

      Socrate is my faviorite great thinker

    • profile image

      Saidu Rehman 

      8 years ago

      Socrate is my faviorite great thinker

    • chakranir profile image


      9 years ago from KOLKATA, INDIA

      A good and informative write up about a glorious personality of history. Socrates is one of my most enigmatic,attractive and adorable great men. I thank you and appreciate your effort to help me remember him once again.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i sort of care for socrates because he felt that he knew everything and even when people didn't like him or called him ugly he still kept lhis head up and kept going. i have a lot respect for him for that.

    • darkside profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      Two and a half thousands years on it might appear easy to have an opinion on Socrates, but without men like him we wouldn't have the intellect that we had today to question, think, dream and imagine.

    • Vfhudson profile image


      9 years ago from Chicagoland Area

      I do not care for Socrates. He felt that he could do no wrong because we were all clueless of then difference between right and wrong. Epic fail is what they say, now?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i think he had a right to say what he said. he was a man who questioned the ways of athens and was KILLED for it would you be up set if you wold have to killed if you questioned the ways of YOUR city??????????????i am not saying it was wise to do that but i think it is interesting to learn why he died,how he died and were.DON'T YOU?

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      he was a very greek philosopher

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 

      11 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Socrates is one of my heroes. Such an eccentric, and such a genius. Everyone should know something about him. Thanks for this.

    • darkside profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Australia

      Ushia, that is very interesting. I didn't know that. Is it painful death by this sort of poisoning? Or are they totally off their face? (or muzzle, or snout).

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      hemlock is hallucinogenic poison and made you believe you were an animal before taking your life.

      Wonder what animal Socrates was?

    • Lifebydesign profile image


      11 years ago from Australia

      Definitely a man before his time and love that 'unexamined life' quote. Great bio about a great man darkside!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)