Socrates Essay, Research Paper
Socrates was a Greek philosopher and teacher. His teachings, life and death have made him one of the most admired people in history. Although he wrote no books or developed a regular school of thought, his influence inspired others to. Socrates affected the entire course of Western thought. I believe Socrates to be one of the most important philosophers ever.
Born in Athens, Socrates (470-399 BCE) was the son of a wealthy sculptor. There he received the regular elementary education in literature, music, and gymnastics. Initially Socrates followed the craft of his father; he executed a statue group of the three Graces, which stood at the entrance to the Acropolis until the second century AD. During the Pelopennesian war he served as an infantryman.
Since Socrates preferred conversation to writing, he left no writings himself, in order to study him we must look at what his students and others have written about him. The four main sources of Socrates life and philosophy are Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, and Aristophanes. Xenophon and Plato were Socrates students, Aristotle was a student of Plato’s, and Aristophanes was a leading playwright in Socrates time. Plato was a philosopher but unlike his teacher put his beliefs in writing. He wrote about conversations people had with Socrates, from these writings we know that Socrates lived in Athens, dressed plain, and was known for his moderation of eating and drinking.
Believed to have been unattractive in appearance, Socrates is said to have been short in height, but healthy and self controlled. He was said to enjoy life and was popular because of his wit and sense of humor. He spent most of his adult life in the marketplace, streets and gymnasiums where he would engage in dialogue and arguments with anyone willing to speak with him. Socrates had a large following of young men in Athens, he taught by questioning his listeners and showing them how inadequate their answers were. He claimed to have little or no beliefs of his own but rather attempted to discover the truth by questioning others. It is likely he discussed many different subjects with many different people.
Socrates believed that he had a divine calling to pursue philosophy. He loved his country and was obedient to Athens laws, but he avoided politics. He believed he could best serve his country by dedicating himself to teaching others how to do self-examination and care for their souls. Socrates spent his time discussing virtue and justice with his followers, he tried to improve Athens by seeking wisdom about right conduct so that he could guide the moral and intellectual improvement of the people of Athens.
The parents of Socrates’ pupils were often displeased with his influence and his unorthodox views on religion and democracy. Socrates made enemies among the influential Athenians. He was brought to trial and charged with corrupting the young and showing disrespect for religious traditions. The jury found Socrates guilty and sentenced him to death. According to Plato, Socrates calmly drank a cup of hemlock, the customary execution procedure of the time.
Although Socrates may have appeared dangerous to Athenian democracy, what he defended were the foundations of Democracy. His teachings were a major influence on many well-known philosophers, from which we learn his beliefs. His life was dedicated to the right of free flow on information and ideas. He believed in open debate and the right of all to seek knowledge. Socrates died because of his diversity and his unorthodox veiws on religion. Socrates always followed the laws of Athens, he even followed the law when he was found guilty and condemned to execution, he took his own life when he could have escaped.
In gathering information for this essay I used all resources from the Internet. I shared information with others in my group with closely related topics and I believe we all benefited from it. In developing the report I asked several journalistic questions I hoped to answer in the essay, such as, When did Socrates live?, Where was Socrates from and to whom did he teach?, What was Socrates background?, Who did he mainly influence?, Why and how did he die?, and What effect did Socrates have on modern society? By answering these essential questions I believe I developed an effective report which answers the questions people are interested in. Upon reflection I feel in the future I will gather only information that answers my journalistic questions first, then gather other facts I feel are interesting and important; my first draft was a great deal longer than my final copy because I narrowed the paper down to what I believe is a more concise essay, gathering information based more on the essential questions could save time wasted on unnecessary facts and more on the purpose at hand.
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