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The Father of Western Philosophy Socrates

Socrates was a Greek philosopher considered to be the father of Western philosophy. He was born in c. 469/470 BCE to the sculptor Sophronicus and the mid-wife Phaenarete. In his youth he learnt music, gymnastics and grammar, and he became a sculptor, like his father. It is known that he was a talented sculptor and people admired his statue of the Graces near the Acropolis for many years until the 2nd century CE.

When Socrates was already middle-aged, his friend Chaerephon asked the Delphi Oracle if there was anyone wiser than Socrates, and the Oracle gave a negative answer to that. Socrates was amazed by this answer and wanted to prove that Oracle was not right. He decided to talk to the “wisest” people of his location and to find out whether they were really as wise as they claimed to be. To his disappointment, he found out that they lacked real wisdom in spite of their complimentary reputation. The young people of Athens were inspired by Socrate’s questioning of the elders and by his wisdom, and soon they became his students and followers. They wanted to devote their lives to philosophy. Many students taught by Socrates became the founders of their own schools. For example, Antisthenes founded the Cynic school, Aristippus founded the Cyrenaic school, and Plato. Every prominent philosophical school mentioned by ancient writers after Socrates' death was founded by one of his followers.

The fact that these schools were diverse testifies that the influence of Socrates was wide and his teachings were interpreted in various ways. The philosophical concepts of Antisthenes and Aristippus vary greatly. The former taught that the good life could be achieved by self-control and self-denial, while the latter proclaimed that only a pleasant life was worth living.

The scientists who studied Socrates say that he greatly contributed to the development of philosophy by moving its focus to the abstract world of ethics and morality. Socrates taught his followers how to live a good and virtuous life, and how to think for themselves.

In spite of the diversity of teachings at the schools of his followers, they all emphasized that some form of morality was their fundamental principle. The fact, that the “morality” taught by one school was often condemned by another one, again supports the concept that the interpretations of Socrates' central message differed significantly.

Socrates was a Greek philosopher considered to be the father of Western philosophy. He was born in c. 469/470 BCE to the sculptor Sophronicus and the mid-wife Phaenarete. In his youth he learnt music, gymnastics and grammar, and he became a sculptor, like his father.

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CREATED ON
26 October 2016
COMPLETED ON
28 October 2016
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