Quotes about Socrates: Socrates (470 – 399) was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he authored no texts and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers composing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon.
Socrates professed not to teach anything (and indeed not to know anything important) but only to seek answers to urgent human questions (e.g., “What is virtue?” and “What is justice?”) and to help others do the same. His style of philosophizing was to engage in public conversations about some human excellence and, through skillful questioning, to show that his interlocutors did not know what they were talking about. Despite the negative results of these encounters, Socrates did hold some broad positive views, including that virtue is a form of knowledge and that “care of the soul” (the cultivation of virtue) is the most important human obligation.
Socrates wrote nothing. All that is known about him has been inferred from accounts by members of his circle—primarily Plato and Xenophon—as well as by Plato’s student Aristotle, who acquired his knowledge of Socrates through his teacher. The most vivid portraits of Socrates exist in Plato’s dialogues, in most of which the principal speaker is “Socrates.” However, the views expressed by the character are not consistent across the dialogues, and in some dialogues the character expresses views that are clearly Plato’s own. Scholars continue to disagree about which of the dialogues convey the views of the historical Socrates and which use the character simply as a mouthpiece for Plato’s philosophy.