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Philosophy is often called the mother of sciences. Therefore, philosophic studies provide a gripping field for investigation. This paper aims to dwell upon one of the world’s most notable philosophers Socrates and reflect upon his biography and major ideas of his doctrine, including maieutics.
It is known that Socrates was born in Athens in 470 B.C. His father was a stonemason, whereas his mother was a doula. His teacher was Anaxagoras from Clazomenae, who was one of the most famous mentors (Colaiaco 15). Socrates did not travel much and hardly ever left Athens. He participated in battles in 432 B.C. and 422 B.C and is stated to have been a brave fighter (Colaiaco 17-18). In 399 B.C. he was accused of disrespect to gods as he believed in one god. Besides, he was charged with the corruption of the young as he taught his philosophy to them (Colaiaco 21). Thirty days after the verdict, he took a cup of water-hemlock in the presence of his students Colaiaco 25).
Socrates’ dialogues aimed to search for true knowledge, as well as an important step to the realization of its absence and comprehension of own ignorance. According to a legend, Socrates was called the wisest of the wisest. This might be connected with his statement about the lack of human knowledge: “All that we know is that we know nothing.” Using the method of irony, Socrates put on the mask of a simpleton and asked somebody to teach and explain something to him. There was a serious purpose behind the game. The interlocutor was supposed to discover his/her ignorance (Shoemaker 56).
Socrates addressed the issue of the person, the matters of the person’s essence and nature. He stated that it was possible to study the laws of nature and the movement of stars. However, he questioned why it was necessary to go so far. Following Delphian Oracle, Socrates said: “Know thyself” (Voltaire 138). It means that it is necessary to go deeper into the near, and then, through the cognition of simple things it was possible to reach the understanding of sophisticated verities. According to Socrates, the person is initially the soul. In his understanding, “the soul” is the mind, which is the ability to think, and the conscience, which is the moral principle. If the essence of the person is the soul, it means that this is not the body that needs special care but the soul. Therefore, any mentor’s most crucial purpose is to teach the person to nurture the soul. Virtues make the soul perfect. Socrates related virtues to cognition which was considered as a necessary condition to do good actions. Socrates believed that without the understanding of the essence of the good, it was not possible to know how to act for its sake. The virtue and the soul do not contradict each other. The mind is vital to discover the good, the wonderful and the just. (Taylor 78)
Apart from that, Socrates revealed the notion of happiness and possibilities of its achievement. The source of happiness is not located in the body or something external. It is situated in the soul. Therefore, the happiness does not result from the enjoyment of things from the external material world. It is tightly connected to the feeling of internal fulfilling (Voltaire 37). Hence, the person is happy when his soul is kind and well-ordered. According to Socrates, the soul is the owner of the body. This ownership is the freedom which Socrates called self-control. The person should try to gain the control over himself/herself based on the virtues: “The wisdom is to master oneself, whereas the ignorance leads to the defeat from oneself” (Taylor 152). Socrates never wrote down his thoughts.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that this paper has considered Socrates’ life and doctrine. It has outlined the most significant events from the philosopher’s biography. Besides, it has dwelled upon the most notable ideas of his studies.
Colaiaco, James. Socrates Against Athens: Phylosophy on Trial. Routledge, 2013.
Shoemaker, Jonathan Mitchell. Socrates and the True Political Craft in the Gorgias. Routledge, 2015.
Taylor, Alfred Edward. Socrates. Read Books Ltd, 2013.
Voltaire. Socrates. Sheba Blake Publishing, 2015.