469 - 399 BC
Greek Philosopher
Socrates was the first of the three great ancient Greeks - Socrates, Plato, Aristotle - who laid the philosophical foundations of Western culture.

Socrates lived during the chaos of the Peloponnesian War, served briefly as a soldier, but spent most of his life on the streets, on the marketplace, and the gymnasia, engaging young and old people in dialogues.

Teachers of wisdom, or sophists, had been training young Athenians in the art of arguing. Mastery of the rules of logic prepared them to show how to argue for or against any opinion, regardless of moral considerations. Socrates was more interested wether an arguments conclusion was true than wether it was convincing and he used the sophists tools of logical analysis to investigate the nature of virtue. He thought the search for knowledge of the utmost importance because he maintained that no man sins wittingly - from which follows, that whoever knows what is good does what is right.

Socrates' inductive method to investigate the nature of virtue and to expose fallacies and ignorance had a profound influence on Plato and the ancient world. Socrates wrote nothing and our knowledge of him comes chiefly from the dialogues of Plato and the writings of Xenophon (not Xenophanes).

In 399 BC he was accused of corrupting youth and neglecting the gods. He was convicted and sentenced to death. He spent his last days patiently discussing philosophy with his friends, then he drank the poison cup of hemlock that the jailer brought him and died in peace.

See connection story:
From Dionysus to Aristotle

www link :
Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Greek Philosophy


The Death of Socrates
by Plato