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Socrates biography |Greek philosopher, is a capital figure of ancient thought.


(Athens, 470 BC - ID, 399 BC) Greek philosopher. Even though it did not leave any written work and ideas that can be attributed with security are scarce, Socrates is a capital figure of ancient thought, to the point of being called pre-Socratic philosophers before him. Breaking with the former predominant orientations, its reflection focused on the human being, particularly in ethics, and their ideas were the two pillars on which rests the history of Western philosophy: Plato, who was his direct disciple, and Aristotle, that it was at the same time of Plato.


Socrates was son of a midwife, Faenarete, and a sculptor, Sophroniscus, related Arístides the right. Few things are known with certainty of the biography of Socrates, apart from the fact that he participated as infantryman in the battles of Samos (440), Potidea (432), Delio (424) and Amphipolis (422). He was a friend of Aritias and Alcibiades, which saved the life.

Most of what is known about it comes from three contemporaries his: the historian Xenophon, Aristophanes playwright and philosopher Plato. The first portrayed Socrates as a Sage absorbed by the idea of identifying knowledge and virtue, but with a personality in which there were some somewhat vulgar traits. Aristophanes object of his satires in a comedy, did the clouds (423), where it is identified with the other Sophists, and he is caricatured as a misleading speech artist.
These two statements clarify the image of Socrates by Plato in his dialogues, which appears as a main figure, an image that does not stop being occasionally overly idealized, although he is considered to be possibly the most fair.
By the way is that Socrates was married, at a rather advanced age, with Xantipa, who bore him two daughters and a son. Certain tradition been perpetuated the cliché of the derogatory to the activity of the husband and wife prone to behave in a brutal and vulgar way. In its appearance, always described Socrates as a pudgy man with a prominent belly, bulging eyes and lips, in the same way that is credited also with a scruffy appearance.

The maieutics

Apparently, and for much of his life, Socrates would have dedicated to roam the streets and markets of Athens, where it took people from the common (merchants, farmers or artisans) as partners to hold long conversations, often similar to long interrogations. This behavior was, however, the essence of its education system, maieutics.
Own Socrates compared such a method with the profession of midwife that their mother had: it was to an interlocutor to illuminate the truth, to discover it by itself as located already in his soul, by means of a dialogue in which the philosopher proposed a series of questions and opposed their objections to the responses received, so that at the end it was possible to recognize whether initial of his interlocutor views were an appearance misleading or a true knowledge.
In his philosophical discussions, at least as they were reflected in the dialogues of Plato, Socrates continues, indeed, a series of precise guidelines that make up the so-called Socratic dialogue. Often begins the conversation praising the wisdom of his interlocutor and presenting itself as an ignoramus: such pretence is the so-called Socratic irony, who presides over the first half of the dialogue. In it, Socrates proposed a question (i.e. What is virtue?) and praised the response of the interlocutor, but then he opposed with successive questions or counterexamples their objections to the responses received, plunging into confusion the caller, than just recognizing that it knew nothing about the issue.
Such an achievement was an essential point: not can be taught something who already believes to know it. The first step to wisdom is to know that nothing is known, or, put another way, be aware of our ignorance. Once admitted the ignorance, began the actual maieutics : through dialogue, with new questions and reasoning, Socrates was leading to their partners at the discovery (or birth) a precise response to the issue, so subtly that the truth seemed to arise from the same inside, as an own discovery.

The philosophy of Socrates

The moral question of the knowledge of good was in the center of the teachings of Socrates, which printed a fundamental shift in the history of Greek philosophy, to dispense with the cosmological concerns of their predecessors. As it has been seen, the first step to achieve knowledge consisted of the acceptance of the ignorance, and on the ground of his ethical Musings, knowledge plays a crucial role. Socrates thinks that man cannot do good if you don't know it, is to say, if you don't have the same concept and criteria that allow to discern it.
The human being aspires to happiness and this heading their actions. Only a virtuous conduct, on the other hand, provides happiness. And all the virtues, the most important is wisdom, which includes the remaining. Who possesses wisdom has all the virtues because, according to Socrates, nobody work wrong knowing: If, for example, someone deceives others is because, in their ignorance, does not realize that deception is an evil. The wise know that honesty is good, because the benefits you (trust, reputation, esteem, good repute) are far superior to those who can report him deception (riches, power, a suitable marriage).
The ignorant is unaware of this: If you knew it, cultivate honesty and not deception. As a result, the wise man is necessarily virtuous (as for Socrates, knowing good and practice it is the same thing), and the ignorant man is necessarily vicious. This conception, it is necessary to emphasize that virtue is not something innate that arises spontaneously in certain men, while others lack it. Quite the contrary: since wisdom contains the other virtues, virtue can be learned; through understanding can attain wisdom, and with her virtue.

Socrates takes the hemlock (detail of an oil painting by David)
However, in the dialogues of Plato , it is difficult to distinguish what is the part of the above that corresponds to the historical Socrates and what already belongs to the philosophy of his disciple. Socrates left no written doctrine, nor nor missed Athens (except to serve as a soldier), contrary to the custom of not a few philosophers of the time, and especially of the Sophists. If, as it seems, ethical ideas above are the own Socrates, his philosophy is the polar opposite of skepticism and the moral relativism of the Sophists, which in spite of and because of his dialectic skill, was considered in his time as one of them, as it reflects the aforementioned comedy by Aristophanes.
By their conduct, Socrates earned enemies, in the context of instability which was Athens after the Peloponnesian wars, they ended on the grounds that their friendship was dangerous for aristocrats such as Alcibiades or Critias disciples; officially accused of IMPIETY and corrupting the youth, he was condemned to drink hemlock after that, in his defense, he had shown the inconsistency of the charges that are against him.
As it relates to Plato in the apology that left his master, Socrates could have eluded the sentence, thanks to friends who still retained, but preferred to abide by it and die, as citizen felt obliged to comply with the city law, although in some cases, like his own, it was unfair; worse, it would have been the absence of law.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities


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