Socrates is believed to be the father of Western philosophy. He was not only a philosopher but also a teacher and a scholar. He introduced a new method of questioning into the systems of logic and philosophy, which is still used nowadays. However, it was this method of questioning, which turned Athens against him, and he was sentenced to death. He was poisoned with hemlock tree in 399 BCE.
The Early Life of Socrates
The birthplace of Socrates is Athens, where he was born in 469 BCE. His father, Sophroniscus, was a stonemason, and his mother, Phaenarete, was a midwife. His family was considered to be a middle class one, not very poor and not rich. Unlike Plato, Socrates didn’t have noble ancestors. He happened to grow up in a political district, called Alopece.
So it was natural that at the age of 18, Socrates started performing political duties. In order to be able to do this, he was obliged to go through military service. Socrates was lucky to receive a proper education. Apart from reading and writing, which all boys in Athens were taught to do, he was also educated in music, poetry, and athletics.
Socrates and His Marriages
Socrates married Xanthippe, who gave birth to his first son, Lamprocles. According to some sources, Socrates then married Myrto, who was the mother of his other two children – Menexenus and Sophroniscus. Some other accounts claim that due to the fact that there was a shortage of men in Athens at that time, he was married to both women at the same time.
Socrates in Battle
While Socrates performed his military duties, he fought bravely in all battles. In 432 BCE, he assisted the Athenians to win the fight in Potidaea. It was he who saved the life of Alcibiades, one of the famous generals of Athens from that time. He also participated in two more battles, the one of Delium and the one of Amphipolis, in which Athens was unfortunately defeated.
According to Socrates, society needs philosophy, which focuses more on reaching practical results. Following this line of thought, he tried to oppose the theological doctrine, which was the leading principle at that time and laid the foundation of a new system based on human reason.
Socrates promoted the human choice as he believed that it was always inspired by the craving for happiness. In addition to this, he claimed that one could achieve ultimate wisdom firstly by understanding oneself. In his opinion, the more people know, the happier they will be because they will be able to make the right choices based on reason.
In terms of politics, Socrates believed that neither democracy nor tyranny was an excellent way to govern people. He preached that the best politicians are the ones who have the top set of skills, knowledge, and values required for this vocation. Of course, in order to possess this, politicians should first achieve self-awareness. Only then could they reach high levels of wisdom.