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The Death Of Socrates

By Plato Translated By Benjamin Jowett

About This Book

We have little direct knowledge of the Greek philosopher, Socrates. He left no written records of own, and it is largely through the writings of Plato that we know of his teachings and beliefs. We know that he fought bravely in the army of his city-state during his young manhood. He lived in utter simplicity, teaching in Athens all his life. He was an immensely good, intelligent, and charismatic man who was venerated by the greatest contemporary minds in ancient Greece. In 399 B.C., he was tried by the highest court of the city on a trumped-up charge, condemned to death, and executed.

Socrates is credited with developing the inductive argument in order to clarify thought, and with seeking universal definitions of truth and goodness.

Much of Socrates' teaching concerned itself with the welfare of the human psyche, which he termed "the breath of life," and by which he meant the essence of the self, or the soul united with the intelligence. He taught that happiness and well-being depend entirely on the goodness or badness of the psyche, adding that nobody really wants to be unhappy or bad, but that people are confused as to what the good things really are — as to what actually does bring happiness. He held that we mistakenly think that wealth and power, for example, are things that will make us happy. Thus we may neglect the health of the psyche and even commit wrongful acts in order to obtain things that don't really contribute to happiness. He maintained that although it may be a source of unhappiness to be wronged or punished, it is far worse to do a wrong or an injustice to another person.

His teachings usually consisted of carefully structured conversations (Dialogues), in which he represented himself as an ignorant person seeking enlightenment about some type of ethical behavior. After forming an hypothesis, the subject was refined again and again on the basis of answers to Socrates' penetrating questions until the concept was clarified and the hypothesis either refined or rejected.

About Plato Translated By Benjamin Jowett

(circa 428 B.C. - circa 348 B.C) The philosopher Plato was arguably the foremost writer and teacher of ancient Greece, and his influence on thought has been apparent for over 2,400 years!

Deeply affected by the teaching of Socrates, Plato's early writings recorded Socrates' philosophy and his death, and much of his life's work bears the stamp of Socrates' philosophy.


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