Ancient Greek History

Socrates – One of the Founders of Western Philosophy

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When looking back through the ages, it’s clear that the Ancient Greeks possessed a strong motivation to help them understand how everything worked. As a result, they studied disciplines such as mathematics, physics, science, and even human behavior.

The motivation to understand the world and the universe was deep, and there are plenty of philosophers, inventors, mathematicians, and even scientists to come from Ancient Greece. In many cases, one individual could study several things at once, which makes them truly unique.

One of the most influential philosophers to come out of Ancient Greece is Socrates since his very ideas shaped the discipline of philosophy as we know it today. Here’s a look at who Socrates is and what he believed:

Life of Socrates

Although the exact date of Socrates’ birth can’t be pinpointed, it is estimated that he was born around 470 or 460 B.C in Deme Alopece, which was in the city-state of Athens. His mother was a midwife and his father was a sculptor. He spent some time in the military and fought in the Peloponnesian Wars. He was also married to a woman named Xanthippe and the pair had three children together.

He died in 399 B.C. after he poisoned himself at the conclusion of a very public trial. The speech he gave in his defense during this day is read and analyzed to this day. In between his birth and death, he made a strong impact on the world of philosophical. In fact, Ancient Greek philosophy is divided into two general categories, those who came before Socrates (pre-Socratic), and those who came after.

How Socrates Was Received

In order to truly understand how Socrates was received during his time, it is important to understand that his core methodology taught that true knowledge could only be obtained by asking questions and seeking the answers. His personality sort of matched this idea. He would often act deliberately annoying, humorous, and even rude to people as a way to goad them into supporting his way of thinking.

He would spend a lot of time in the Athenian marketplace, walking up to people and asking them questions in order to get them to think. The very act of asking questions, while initially well received, was eventually perceived as annoying, as well. In other words, he was received much better after his death than he was while he was alive.

Trial of Socrates

Eventually, Socrates’ irritating and inquisitive nature caught up to him. He was alive when Ancient Greece was under transition. Though he was born during the Golden Age of Greece, he was also alive when the Spartans defeated the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War.

Times were a bit uncertain for the Ancient Greeks and even though we now understand how innovative his philosophies really were, he wasn’t truly appreciated back then.   He believed that you should always question things, and he was eventually accused of being a bad influence on the youth of the city. His nature finally led him to clash with the politics of his time. This eventually led to his arrest and then his trial, where he famously gave a speech and then took poison at the conclusion of his speech. He was eventually found guilty of being a bad influence on the youth of Athens

As you can see, Socrates’ life and philosophies weren’t appreciated during his time. However, today we fully understand his impact. He was perceived much differently back then than he is now. We understand that his way of thinking shaped Western philosophy and thought as we know it. Back then, they considered him a nuisance.


Wikipedia – Socrates

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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