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Socrates


Ancient Greek philosopher who is widely credited for laying the foundation for Western philosophy.
Socrates
If generation were in a straight line only, and there were no compensation or circle in nature, no turn or return into one another, then you know that all things would at last have the same form and pass into the same state, and there would be no more generation of them.
Socrates quotes
Contentment is natural wealth; luxury, artificial poverty.
Socrates
I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: any elaborate defense is unnecessary; but as I was saying before, I certainly have many enemies, and this is what will be my destruction if I am destroyed; of that I am certain; not Meletus, nor yet Anytus, but the envy and detraction of the world, which has been the death of many a good men, and will probably be the death of many more; there is no danger of my being the last of them.




Socrates quotes
Socrates was the chief saint of the Stoics throughout their history; his attitude at the time of his trial, his refusal to escape, his calmness in the face of death, and his contention that the perpetrator of injustice injures himself more than his victim, all fitted in perfectly with Stoic teaching. So did his indifference to heat and cold, his plainness in matters of food and dress, and his complete independence of all bodily comforts.
Socrates
We cannot help but see Socrates as the turning-point, the vortex of world history.
Socrates quotes
...when a simple man who has no skill in dialectics believes an argument to be true which he afterwords imagines to be false, whether really false or not, and then another and another, he no longer has any faith left, and great disputers, as you know, come to think, at last that they have grown to be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the utter unsoundness and instability of all arguments, or, indeed, of all things, which like the currents in the Euripus, are going up and down in never-ceasing ebb and flow.
Socrates
Someone will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong acting the part of a good man or a bad. ...For wherever a man's place is, whether the place he has chosen or that where he has been placed by a commander. there he ought to remain in the hour of danger; he should not think of death or of anything, but of disgrace.
Socrates quotes
You would say... inexperienced as I am, and ready to start, as the proverb says, at my own shadow, I cannot afford to give up the sure ground of principle. ...and when you are further required to give an explanation of this principle, you would go on to assume a higher principle, and the best of the higher ones, until you found a resting place; but you would not refuse the principle and consequences in your reasoning like the Eristics--at least if you wanted to discover real existence.
Socrates
I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting anyone whom I meet after my manner, and convincing him, saying: O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this? And if the person with whom I an arguing says: Yes, but I do care: I do not depart or let him go at once; I interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue, but only says that he has, I reproach him with overvaluing the greater, and undervaluing the less. ...For this is the command of God, as I would have you know...
Socrates
The exchange of one fear or pleasure or pain for another fear or pleasure or pain, which are measured like coins, the greater with the less, is not the exchange of virtue. O, my dear Simmias, is there not one true coin, for which all things ought to exchange?--and that is wisdom; and only in exchange for this, and in company with this, is anything truly bought or sold, whether courage or temperance or justice. ...in the true exchange, there is a purging away of all these things, and temperance, and justice, and courage, and wisdom herself are a purgation of them.
Socrates
I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought they knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and the oracle that I was better off as I was.




Socrates quotes
If anyone thinks that Socrates is proven to have lied about his daimon because the jury condemned him to death when he stated that a divinity revealed to him what he should and should not do, then let him take note of two things: first, that Socrates was so far advanced in age that he would have died soon, if not then; and second, that he escaped the most bitter part of life, when all men's mental powers diminish.
Socrates
I would not have him sorrow at my hard lot, or say at the burial, Thus we lay out Socrates, or, Thus we follow him to the grave or bury him; for false words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. Be of good cheer then, my good Crito, and say that you are burying my body only, and do with that as is usual, and as you think best.
Socrates quotes
There is nothing more remarkable in the life of Socrates than that he found time in his old age to learn to dance and play on instruments, and thought it was time well spent.
Socrates
It's important to remember that Thomas Huxley recognized Socrates as the first agnostic. Socrates very much believed in a God, although his deity was somewhat vague and outside of his people's polytheistic religion. Philosophically Socrates was the very essence of agnosticism.
Socrates quotes
...we admitted that everything living is born of the dead. For if the soul existed before birth, and in coming to life and being born can be born only from death and dying, must she not after death continue to exist, since she has to be born again?
Socrates
Let us... be careful of admitting into our souls the notion that there is no truth or health or soundness in any arguments at all; but let us rather say that there is as yet no health in us, and that we must quit ourselves like men and do our best to gain health--you and all other men with a view to the whole of your future life, and I myself with a view to death.
Socrates quotes
I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing... as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go on my way, obedient to the god, and make inquisition into anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and this occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.
Socrates
Really, Ischomachus, I am disposed to ask: "Does teaching consist in putting questions?" Indeed, the secret of your system has just this instant dawned upon me. I seem to see the principle in which you put your questions. You lead me through the field of my own knowledge, and then by pointing out analogies to what I know, persuade me that I really know some things which hitherto, as I believed, I had no knowledge of.
Socrates
...if the knowledge which we acquired before birth was lost to us at birth, and afterwords by the use of the senses we recovered that which we previously knew, will not that which we call learning be a process of recovering our knowledge, and may not this be rightly termed recollection by us? ...Then, Simmias, our souls must have existed before they were in the form of man--without bodies, and must have had intelligence.


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