After Socrates’ death, other ancient writers began to write about his ideas. Socrates’ followers developed a number of major philosophical schools. We’ll look at four of them:
Socrates’s dialogues are a good example of Socrates’s use of dialectical method in debates. These dialogues often demonstrate how the virtuous life produces more peace, happiness, and inner tranquility than the unjust one. This contrasts sharply with the unjust life, which produces more stress and anxiety, and other characteristics of an unhealthy mind. While Socrates’s dialogues are full of ambiguities, the four main ideas of Socrates are largely consistent.
One of the ideas Plato discussed was the idea of a city-state-type government. This kind of government would be small, and people could move around if they didn’t like it. In addition to this, Plato’s ideal society would be radically communitarian. Private families would be gone, and women would have greater mobility. Art is censored by the central government, since Plato believes that artists create a ‘copy’ of reality, which Plato argues is wrong. The censorship of artists by Plato is particularly controversial, as he goes into great detail about what constitutes acceptable art in his ideal society. Although his critique of fascism is sound, the argument is not a convincing one.
The republic is one of Plato’s central works, and it is important to consider how he developed his ethical philosophy over the course of his long life. While the early dialogues do not indicate that the search for virtue extends beyond the human realm, he gradually developed his thought by positing a metaphysical basis for knowledge. As a result, he begins to emphasize the importance of a transcendent principle, the Form of the Good.
Xenophon is an example of a Greek philosopher who chose practicality over abstract philosophy. He attempted to emulate Socrates throughout his life, in a different way from his teacher. He sought the advice of the Oracle of Delphi and then wrote down his discussions, which he published as Memorabilia. Socrates is a good example of a philosopher who followed practicality rather than abstract philosophy.
Socrates examines the problems of friendship between adolescents, especially those who have more freedom than adults. He relates his own friendship with his younger brother, Ctesippus, and Plato’s elder brother, Theaetetus. Several sophists have speculated that these children were “innocent” because they were under the age of puberty.
The first two stories are very similar. In the second, Socrates and Critias were rivals in the herd. Socrates was part of the Thirty, and his rival, Charicles, was a member of the ruling oligarchy. The Thirty was performing purges and killing its citizens. Socrates questioned whether a good herdsman would thin his herd in such a way. The latter, meanwhile, is threatened by the Thirty. But Xenophon does not report Critias rising up to defend Socrates.
Socrates’ characterization of Alcibiades is not entirely convincing. Despite this fact, Xenophon also downplays the relationship between Alcibiades and Socrates. This relationship is not entirely believable, as Plato portrays it as a love story. Nonetheless, Socrates defends himself in the city, proving that Alcibiades is a true rival.
Xenophon’s work about Socrates is pedestrian in parts. He isn’t sure what he saw in the philosopher, but he’s clearly not spent much time with him. Xenophon was probably a distant, rural neighbor of Athens, living in the outskirts of the city in Erchia, across the Hymettus mountains. Nevertheless, he did write a valuable treatise on horsemanship and left Athens in 401 to go on an expedition to Persia. It’s unclear whether he ever returned to Athens or to the rest of his native country.
Socrates lived in a deme near the city walls in the south-southeast of Athens, and his tribe was Antiochis. His parents, Sophroniscus and Theaetetus, were stone workers. When Socrates was five days old, Sophroniscus carried him from hearth to hearth. He was named on the tenth day and presented to the phratry for socialization.
Analytic studies of Socrates are grounded in textual arguments. This school of philosophy has its origins in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition. Xenophon, Gregory Vlastos, and Hans-Georg Gadamer are some of the doyens of this strand. They were able to extract Socrates’s main ideas by analyzing the arguments he makes in his writings.
Socrates’s life is associated with intellectual freedom. Sometimes, he is invoked as the figure of the learned person more widely. In fact, his image is invoked in a broad range of projects. In the West, Socrates is the symbol of a life of the mind that is neither conventionally successful nor moral. That means it is the life of the mind, rather than an outcast amongst the throng.
Xenophon, a student of Socrates, writes the Anabasis as an elegy to the philosopher. The philosophic life is at the top of the hierarchy, and political life is dependent on honor. Xenophon’s work is written in the third-person perspective, and raises a series of questions about the author’s character.
Socrates denies studying the earth and heavens, but he was well aware of the natural philosophers. He explains many phenomena that seem natural, such as weather and climate. He denies corrupting the young, although the jury may have not differentiated between philosophy and sophistry. Moreover, he denies causing the deaths of other people, especially those under thirty.
Although Christ’s general thesis is that Xenophon intended the Anabasis for an Athenian elite. He wanted to instruct them on democratic and morally right forms of leadership. However, the focus on Socrates’ dealings with elite Athenians restricts discussions about the right forms of leadership. Socrates’ interest lies more in the qualities of leadership than in the regimes of leadership.
In a second volume, Xenophon explores the idea of friendship in his famous parable. It examines the concept of friendship among the characters and the role of rumour in social life. It also examines how people perceive and react to their own emotions. It is a classic example of a parable that promotes Socrates and Xenophon’s philosophy of leadership.
Plato’s dialogue with the older sophist Simonides is another important example of Socrates and friendship in his Anabasis. This is a very entertaining piece of Greek literature that is well worth reading. The text is also available in English translation. You can find an online copy of Plato’s dialogue at Tufts University.
Socrates’ philosophy can be described as the opposite of the common-man approach to philosophical matters. Its central concept is that knowledge is inseparable from the soul, and that a person is only as wise as the knowledge inscribed within his soul. Socrates disavowed lex talionis, the standard Athenian theory of justice. This idea was refuted in the Republic and a subsequent work, georgias 474b2-4.
Socrates’ philosophy is most widely known for the Socratic method, in which he pretended to be ignorant about the subject matter and asked questions to draw out the truth from the conversation partner. His methods were termed ‘the truth’ because the conclusions from the dialogs were regarded as “the truth.” This method is called maieutikemethodos in Greek and refers to the idea that the truth is in the mind, and that the skeptic should be brought to the point of arguing the contrary.
Socrates’ philosophy is also known as ‘the science of the soul’ and is based on the belief that science proceeds from an authentic heritage and a human mind. He takes a strong stance against the theorists of nature, or sophists, who reject the notion of a moral world, and combines the concepts of science and human nature in a highly sophisticated way. The Socratic way of conversation is still essential to serious philosophical inquiry, and it is arguably one of the most influential forms of philosophy in history.
The philosophical philosophy of Socrates was shaped by circumstances. After the Peloponnesian War, Athens was governed by the Thirty Tyrants, who confiscated property and sentenced rebels to death. The Thirty Tyrants were criticised fiercely by Socrates. He became one of their most influential students and became a prominent figure. Socrates’ philosophy has been the foundation of philosophy for thousands of years.