Philosopher of the Week for Oct. 7th, 2002. Socrates

The Kids Philosophy Slam now features a philosopher of the week. Included with this new offering is a brief biography and famous quotes of the featured philosopher, ideas for classroom discussions, and links to related philosopher sites! There will be a new philosopher of the week each week through March of 2003!

Socrates (469-399 B.C.), the Father of Western Philosophy, was a soldier, politician, and stonemason, before becoming a philosopher. Socrates devoted his later life to discussions that questioned the truth about popular opinions. Socrates did not have his own definition of truth, he only believed in questioning what others believed as truth. He believed that genuine knowledge came from discovering universal definitions of the key concepts, such as virtue, piety, good and evil, governing life. Socrates wrote nothing down, so detailed information about him comes from his students, such as Plato. In Plato’s Apology, the central features of Socrates' approach to philosophy and its relationship to life are explained as: 1. Ironic modesty. "No one is wiser than you." 2. Questioning habit. The goal of Socratic interrogation is to help individuals to achieve genuine self-knowledge. 3. Devotion to truth. "The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates would rather die than give up philosophy. 4. Dispassionate reason. Even after being sentenced to death, Socrates calmly continued to reason out the question of the fate of a human being after death.

Socrates (469-399 B.C.)

Athens, Greece.

  • "Know thyself."
  • "The only thing I know is that I know nothing."
  • "Ignorance is the only evil."
  • Focused on the big question: What is good and what is evil?
  • Believed that if he asked enough people, he would find out the truth.
  • Developed the Socratic method — trying to find truth by asking and answering questions.
  • Accused and found guilty of corrupting young minds. Sentenced to death by drinking hemlock (poison).

Classroom discussion questions.

How would Socrates answer the question, "What is the meaning of life?"

What did Socrates mean when he said, "Ignorance is the only evil"?

How can you find truth by asking questions?

For more information about Socrates, follow these links.

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