Sophists ~> professional teachers... Socrates was the greatest of them all (469-399 B.C.E.) 2.
Followed the Sophists' lead in turning away from the study of the cosmos and concentrating on the
case of the human. Unlike the way the Sophists discoursed about the human being, he wanted to
base all argumentation on objectively valid definitions.
Socrates' discourse moved in two directions
Outward - to objective definitions
Inward - to discover the inner person, the soul, the source of all truth to Socrates. 4.
He was hardly ever able to answer the questions he asked. 5.
Spent much time in the streets and markets of Athens.
Querying every man he met about whether that man knew anything.
Said, "If there was an afterlife, he would pose the same question to the shades in Hades." 6.
Socrates professed, ironically, that he knew nothing, because he at least knew that he knew
nothing, whereas the others falsely believed themselves to know something. 7.
He, himself, wrote no books, but his conversations were remembered by his disciple Plato, and
later published by him as dialogues... Very often these questions emphasized a specific
philosophical question. The typical Socratic dialogue has 3 divisions:
A question is posed. Socrates becomes excited and enthusiastic to find someone who
claims to know something.
Finds "minor flaws" in his companion's definition and slowly begins to unravel it, forcing his
partner to admit ignorance (in one dialogue, his target ended up in tears).
An agreement is reached by the admittedly ignorant companion to pursue truth seriously. 8.
In his quest for truth, Socrates managed to offend many of the powerful and pompous figures of
Athens, who later conspired against him, getting him indicted for teaching false doctrines, for
impiety, and for corrupting the youth.
Socrates was brought to trial, with the hopes to humiliate him by forcing him to beg for mercy.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document