Socrates was born in 469 BC. The son of the Athenian stonemason Sofronisk and the midwife Fenarethy. His first philosophical sayings came at the time of the era of Pericles, i.e. at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War. The conflict, which is ripe between slave democracy and aristocracy, in the second half of the 5th century. BC. outgrows the boundaries of individual policies and becomes a “interstate” problem.

The Democratic Party, represented by the Maritime Union, headed by Athens, opposes the Peloponnesian Union, headed by Sparta. This conflict in 431 – 405 years. It results in an open clash – the Peloponnesian War. She clearly showed that class determination was for many political representatives a more decisive factor than “nationality”. The shift of philosophical interests was in the beginning of the speaker, he carefully listened to the speech to the end.

Then they started asking their questions, asking them so that the interlocutor didn’t even have a thought about “provocation”. Sometimes the interlocutors reluctantly answered him, and sometimes they would eagerly enter into polemics. Having received the answer to his first question, he asked the following, then this situation was repeated and so on until the interlocutor began to contradict himself! The desperate opponent asked Socrates – “but he himself knows the answer to his questions” – no, he answered, therefore he asked: “I know that I don’t know anything” – one of the most famous sayings of Socrates.

What does it mean? Very strict attitude towards yourself, underestimation of yourself or something else. After many centuries, it is considered that this phrase is a need for a deeper knowledge of yourself!

His vocation

Socrates considered his most important vocation to be “bringing up a person”, the meaning of which he saw in discussions and conversations, and not in the systematic presentation of some field of knowledge. He never considered himself “wise” (sofos), but a philosopher “loving wisdom” (philosophy). The title of sage in his opinion, befits a god. If a person smugly believes that he knows ready-made answers to everything, then such a person is dead for philosophy, he has no reason to puzzle over in search of the most correct concepts, there is no need to move further in search of new solutions to this or that problem. As a result, the sage turns out to be a “parrot” who has memorized several phrases and rushes them into the crowd.

The main task.

He considered the main task of philosophy to be a rational justification of the religious and moral outlook, but he considered nature philosophy as a matter unnecessary and godless. Socrates is the principal enemy of the study of nature. He considered the work of the human mind in this direction to be godlessness. He believed that the world is the creation of the “deity” of the great and all-powerful. Divination is needed, not scientific research, in order to obtain the instructions of the gods regarding their will. He followed the instructions of the Delphic oracle and advised his disciples to do this. He made a sacrifice to the gods and diligently performed all religious rites.

It turns out that the main question of philosophy Socrates decides as an idealist: nature is something not worth the attention of the philosopher, the most important for him is the spirit, consciousness. Doubt served Socrates as a prerequisite for addressing your own Self, to the subjective spirit, for which the further path led to the objective spirit – to the divine mind. The idealistic ethic of Socrates grows into theology.

He opposes the determinism of ancient Greek materialists and outlines the basis of teleological understanding of the world, and here the subject is the starting point for him, because he believes that everything in the world is for the benefit of man.

Socrates teleology acts in a very primitive form. The human sense organs, according to this teaching, have as their goal the performance of certain tasks. Purpose: to see the eyes, to listen to the ears, to smell the nose, etc. Equally, the gods send the light necessary for people to see, the night is intended by the gods for the rest of people, the light of the moon and stars is intended to help determine the time. The gods make sure that the earth produces food for humans, for which an appropriate schedule of seasons is introduced; moreover, the movement of the sun occurs at such a distance from the earth that people do not suffer from excessive heat or excessive cold, etc.


Socrates did not clothe his philosophical doctrine in writing, but spread it through oral conversation. Not limited to a leading role within his philosophical and political circle. Walking around Athens in squares, in places of public meetings, on the streets – led “conversations”.

He talked about his religious – moral problems, what he thought was moral norms and led the promotion of his ethical idealism. The development of idealistic morality constitutes the main core of Socrates’ philosophical interests and occupations. In Conversations and Discussions Socrates drew attention to the knowledge of the essence of virtue.

How can a person be if he does not know what virtue is? In this case, the knowledge of the essence of virtue, the knowledge of what is “moral,” is for him the prerequisite of moral life and the attainment of virtue. For Socrates, morality merges with knowledge.

Morality is the knowledge of what is good and beautiful and at the same time useful for a person, which helps him achieve bliss and life’s happiness. A moral person must know what virtue is. Morality and knowledge from this point of view coincide; in order to be virtuous, it is necessary to know virtue as such, as the “universal”, serving as the basic of all private virtues.

“Socratic” method.

The task of finding the “universal” was to contribute to its special philosophical method. The “Socratic” method, its task of discovering the “truth” through conversation, argument, controversy, was the source of idealistic “dialectics.” “In ancient times dialectics was understood to mean the art of achieving truth by disclosing contradictions in the judgment of an adversary and overcoming these contradictions. In ancient times, some philosophers believed that revealing contradictions in thinking and collision of opposing opinions is the best way to discover the truth.”

If the teachings of Heraclitus on the struggle of opposites, as the driving force of the development of nature, concentrating its attention mainly on objective dialectics, Socrates, relying on the Eleian school (Zeno) and the Sophists (Protagoras), for the first time distinctly raised the question of subjective dialectics, dialectical way of thinking. The main components of the “Socratic” method: “irony” and “maieutics” – in form, “induction” and “definition” in content.

The “Socratic” method is, above all, a method of consistently and systematically asked questions, which aim to bring the interlocutor to a contradiction with himself, to the recognition of his own ignorance. Which is the Socratic “irony.” But he does not set as his task only the “ironic” disclosure of contradictions in the statements of the interlocutor, but also the overcoming of these contradictions in order to achieve “truth”. A continuation and addition of “irony” was the “maieutics” of the “midwifery art” of Socrates (hint at his mother’s profession). He said that he would help his listeners to be born again, to the knowledge of the “universal” as the basis of true morality. Socrates wanted to say that he helps his listeners. The main task of the “Socratic” method is to find the “universal” in morality, to establish the universal moral basis of individual, private virtues. This problem must be solved with the help of a kind of “induction” and “definition”. “Induction” and “definition” in the dialectic of Socrates complement each other.

1. “induction” is the search for the common in particular virtues by analyzing and comparing them

2. “definition” is the establishment of genera and species, their correlations.

Example: Conversation with Evtidem, who was preparing for government activities and who wanted to know what justice and injustice are.

Socrates applied his “dialectical” method of thinking: He proposed to bring the cases of justice in the delta column, and the cases of injustice in the alpha column.

And he began to ask Evtidem questions, where, what to bring: the question of Socrates, the answer to Evtidem, the lie “alpha” of deception “alpha” theft “alpha” kidnapping for sale into slavery “alpha” is it possible to put any of the above in the “delta” column Well said Socrates and asked Evtidem a question of this kind: is the slavery of the inhabitants of the unjust enemy city “delta” deceiving the enemy and regarding the theft and robbery of good from the inhabitants of the enemy city “delta” fair? Such actions were accepted fair. Evtidem originally thought that the questions of Socrates concern only friends. Well, but then all these actions previously listed in the “injustice” column should be recorded in the “justice” column. Evtidem agreed. Consequently, the former “definition” is wrong and a new definition should be put forward: “With respect to enemies, such actions are fair, and with respect to friends they are unfair, and with respect to them, on the contrary, one should be as fair as possible.”

It seems that he has already proved so much, but this is Socrates. He did not stop and, again resorting to “induction,” showed that this “definition” was wrong and required replacing it with another. To achieve this result, Socrates again reveals contradictions in the position recognized by the interlocutor for the true, namely in the thesis that in respect of friends, only the truth should be told.

Whether a commander will act correctly if he, in order to raise the spirit of the troops, will lie to his “delta” wars, as if the allies are approaching.

would it not be fair if the father deceives his sick son, who does not want to take medicine, and under the guise of food makes him take this medicine, and thereby returns his son’s health — Evtidem agrees — and recognizes that this deception should be considered fair

what is the name of the act of that person who, seeing his friend in a state of despair and fearing, no matter how he committed suicide, would steal or simply take away his weapon.

. And he plunders this robbery in the column of justice.

As a result, Evtidem violates his previous “definition” and concludes that it’s not always necessary to be truthful with friends.

Next, Socrates proceeds to the question of the distinction between voluntary and involuntary actions, continuing his “induction” and seeking a new, even more precise “definition” of justice and injustice. The definition of unfair acts on Socrates, such acts that are committed against friends with the intention to harm them.

Truth, wisdom is morality.

Truth and morality for Socrates are identical concepts. “Socrates did not make a distinction between wisdom and morality: he recognized a person together and intelligent and moral, if a person, understanding what is beautiful and good, is guided by this in his actions and, on the contrary, knowing what is morally ugly, avoids him … Just deeds and in general all actions based on virtue are beautiful and good. Therefore, people who know what such actions are in will not want to do any other act instead of this, and people who do not know cannot do it and, even if they try to do it, fall into error. Thus, only the wise commit beautiful and good deeds, but the foolish cannot and, even if they try to commit, fall into error. And since just and in general all beautiful and good deeds are based on virtue, it follows from this that justice and every other virtue is wisdom. ”

True justice, according to Socrates, is the knowledge of that which is good and beautiful, at the same time it is useful for man, contributes to his bliss, the happiness of life.

Virtue ie the knowledge of what is good can only be achieved by “noble people”. “Farmers and other workers are very far from knowing themselves … After all, they only know what fits the body and serves it … Therefore, if self-knowledge is the law of the mind, none of these people can be reasonable from knowing your vocation. ” How rigidly Socrates will separate one class from another is the nature of his religious and ethical teachings. Virtue, as well as knowledge, according to his teachings, is the privilege of the noble (“not working”). Socrates came from the people was an implacable enemy of the Athenian masses. He adored the aristocracy, his doctrine of the inviolability, eternity and immutability of moral norms expresses the ideology of this particular class. Socratic preaching virtues had a political purpose. He says about himself that he cares in order to prepare as many people as possible who can start political activities. At the same time, the political education of the Athenian citizen was conducted in such a direction as to prepare for the restoration of the political domination of the aristocracy, to return to the “precepts of the fathers”.

Socrates considers the main virtues:

  • restraint – how to tame passion
  • courage – how to overcome danger
  • justice is how to observe divine and human laws.

All this man acquires by cognition and self-knowledge.

Socrates talks about courage, prudence, justice, modesty.

He would like to see in the Athenian citizens people brave, but modest, not demanding, prudent, fair in dealing with their friends, but by no means to enemies. A citizen must believe in gods, make sacrifices to them and generally perform all religious rituals, rely on the mercy of the gods and not allow himself to be “bold” to study the world, the sky, the planets. In a word, a citizen must be a meek, God-fearing, obedient tool in the hands of “noble gentlemen.”

In his social views, Socrates was guided by the ideal of “the most ancient and most cultured peoples.” He highly valued civilizations and societies based primarily on agriculture and military operations. He contrasted agriculture with handicrafts and commerce, which, in his opinion, destroy the “order of the community” and destroy the souls. All this reflects the conservatism of Socrates and his respect for the tradition (aristocratic), which was greatly disrupted by the developing trade and navigation.

State stand in the understanding of Socrates.

Socrates also outlined the classification of state forms, based on the main provisions of his ethical and political doctrine. The state forms mentioned by him are: monarchy, tyranny, aristocracy, plutocracy and democracy.

He considers correct and moral only the aristocracy, which he characterizes as the power of a small number of educated and moral people.

Monarchy, from the point of view of Socrates, differs from tyranny in that it relies on legal rights and not on the violent seizure of power, and therefore has a moral meaning that is absent from tyranny.

In conclusion about Socrates.

Socrates spread his views primarily in conversations and discussions. They also formed the philosophical method of Socrates. His goal was to reach the truth by detecting contradictions in the statements of the enemy. With the help of properly selected questions, the opponent’s weak points were clarified. The purpose of his philosophical teachings to help people.

The tendency to constantly find contradictions in statements, push them and thus come to a new (more reliable) knowledge becomes a source of conceptual (subjective) dialectics. That is why the method of Socrates was perceived and developed by Plato, the most consistent idealistic philosophy of antiquity.

Socrates is the first of the three great philosophers of the classical period. The most outstanding student, a follower and in a certain sense Plato was the “systematizer” of his views. It was he who raised the legacy of Socrates and told us about him.