Western Moral Thinkers: Socrates


Greek philosopher Socrates, who lived in Athens from 469 to 399 BC, is frequently credited as the originator of Western philosophy and one of the first moral thinkers of the ethical school of thought. Socrates may be considered the first significant philosopher of Ethics, in contrast to most Pre-Socratic philosophers, he was more interested in figuring out how the cosmos worked. Plato (427-347 BC) was the most renowned student of Socrates.

Socrates (469-399 Bc)

•    The time when Socrates lived is referred to as the "Golden Age of Athens."
•    Sophronicus, a sculptor, and Phaenarete, a midwife, were the parents of Socrates.
•    His early education included music, gymnastics, and grammar all typical subjects for a young Greek and he continued his father's artistic career as a sculptor.
•    He is recognized as one of the founders of Western philosophy, despite only being known to us via the narratives of other people (most notably through his pupil Plato's dialogues).
•    In 480 BC, he asserted that it was his responsibility to expose the moral ignorance of the Athenians.
•    Some saw him as the antithesis of his time's Sophists, who professed to know things and could teach them to others (often for a fee), contending that knowledge should be sought after even if one could never fully understand it.
•    Whatever interpretations were made of his beliefs, it is clear that Socrates' main concern was how to lead a respectable and moral life. 

What Socrates Has Contributed?

Human Realm

•    Philosophy was primarily concerned with metaphysical, theological, or scientific topics before Socrates. Philosophy and ethics were originally given a practical and political focus by Socrates.
•    He argued that the Human sphere should be the main focus of philosophical inquiry.


•    Socrates believed that the best way to learn about virtues and ethical behavior was through "dialogue," or meaningful conversations with others about issues like justice, righteousness, and virtue.
•    The Socratic Method, or "dialectic," is a method of long-winded discussions that has largely replaced solitary reflection.
•    Students and young Athenians were affected by the conversation, which laid the groundwork for modern philosophy, physics, ethics, social theory, and other fields.


•    Socrates made the connection between knowledge and virtue, which results in moral behavior.
•    He believes that the only life worth living is one that has been thoroughly examined.
•    He looked for principles and deeds that were worthy of imitation, laying the moral groundwork for making decisions.
•    Socrates was a fervent belief that virtue what he called "the good," or knowledge and understanding of it were enough to provide happiness.
•    To him, knowing the good was almost like attaining nirvana. He believed that if individuals truly understood the value of life, they would never make a bad or unpleasant decision.

Believer in the soul's immortality

•    Socrates was convinced that the gods had sent him to Athens as a divine emissary to convince the populace of the city-state that their moral standards were flawed and that they should be more concerned with the "welfare of their souls" than with their families, careers, and political obligations. Socrates believed in the immortality of the soul.

Conflicting promises

•    When two pledges contradict, the one with the higher moral value should be followed.
•    For instance, India's budget for 2018–20 projected double-digit development while simultaneously pledging social character in its constitution. Thus, throughout the Pandemic era, the welfare of the populace took precedence over economic objectives.

Ideal life

•    Self-improvement, especially the pursuit of goodness, virtue, justice, honesty, and friendship, should be emphasized in an ideal existence.
•    An individual values qualities like love, friendship, courage, and truth significantly more than others because of his ideal ideals.

Socrates' Dialectical Approach To Research

Western Moral Thinkers: Socrates
•    Perhaps Socrates' most significant and enduring contribution to Western thought is his dialectical method of inquiry, which he called "elenchus" (roughly, "cross-examination") but which has come to be known as the Socratic Method or Socratic Debate (though some commentators claim that Protagoras invented the "Socratic" method).
•    The Socratic Method is a cooperative argumentation debate between individuals that is focused on asking and responding questions to encourage critical thinking and elicit ideas and underlying assumptions.
•    The Socratic Method's essential elements are as follows:
o    The Socratic Method is a dialectic method that uses questions to elicit students' values, beliefs, and ideals.
o    A key component of the Socratic Method is moral instruction, or how to live one's life.
o    How can the Socratic Method (of instruction) be utilized to impart moral principles?
o    The Socratic Method can be used in education to instill values and ethics in children and young people.
o    The method, which gave rise to today's inquiry-based learning, was one of the earliest examples of learning by inquiry that was ever recorded.
o    Fundamentally, Socratic Inquiry is not traditional or conventional teaching. Actually, a leader is needed rather than a teacher in this situation.
o    The Socratic Inquiry leader does not sell information or cram facts and truths into his followers' heads.
o    There aren't any speeches or memorization drills either.
o    Both the leader and the students are responsible for advancing the conversation through questions in this collaborative dialogue.
o    The "teacher," or discussion leader, probes participants with pointed questions in an effort to elicit the beliefs and assumptions that underlie and guide their thoughts and statements.
o    Both the teacher and the audience members are asked questions. The investigation is interactive, and the instructor serves as both a participant and a discussion moderator.
o    Additionally, this investigation is open-ended, the instructor is not attempting to lead the students to any particular conclusion or argument.

Important Socrates Quotes

•    Answering a question requires understanding it first.
•    Education does not fill a container, it kindles a flame.
•    There is just one evil, ignorance, and one virtue, knowledge.
•    Nobody can learn anything from me. I can only get them to reflect.
•    Be kind because everyone you encounter is engaged in a trying struggle.
•    Strong brains talk about ideas, mediocre minds talk about events, and weak minds talk about people.


Many of the important philosophical movements and schools that came after Socrates were influenced by his ideas, especially Platonism (and the Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism that came from it). His moral theory of piety and austerity, which Plato and Aristotle mostly disregarded, became the cornerstone of later ideologies like Cynicism and Stoicism.

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