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Portrait of Socrates. Marble, Roman artwork
(1st century)

Socrates (/ˈsɒkrətiːz/;[1] Greek: Σωκράτης [sɔːkrátɛːs], Sōkrátēs; 470/469 – February 15, 399 BCE)[2] was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes. Plato's dialogues are among the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity, though it is unclear the degree to which Socrates himself is "hidden behind his 'best disciple', Plato".[3]

Through his portrayal in Plato's dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, and it is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of pedagogy in which a series of questions is asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. Plato's Socrates also made important and lasting contributions to the field of epistemology, and the influence of his ideas and approach remains a strong foundation for much western philosophy that followed.


  1. Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter, James Hartman and Jane Setter, eds. Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. 17th edition. Cambridge UP, 2006.
  2. Socrates. 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911). Retrieved on 2012-09-13.
  3. Sarah Kofman (1998). Socrates: Fictions of a Philosopher. p. 34. ISBN 0-8014-3551-X. 

External links

Boylovers of ancient Greece