Biography of Sócrates (ca. 470- ca. 399 a.C.)

Greek philosopher, strong personality, which outline the figure of the philosopher in its noblest definition: intellectual and moral righteousness. With first Socrates, and Plato and Aristotle then, Greek philosophy is anchored permanently and is fertile and perennial up to our days.

Biographical features

Socrates was born in Athens the year 469 or 470 BC, and died at the 400-399 BC He was son of Sophroniscus, probably sculptor, and of Fenareta, which apparently serving as midwife. It was at first sculptor like his father, and his artistic works cited with specialty a beautiful group of the three graces; It was then a pupil of Anaxagoras and Archelaus, and surrendered with the greatest ardour to the study of philosophy. He served some time home with weapons, distinguishing itself at the site of Potidea, in the battle of Delio and other fighting. Peace returned to his studies and his disciples, and the value that had been in the army, the lack of interest and to the glory that is said to return to his old life, he was appointed to the votes of his fellow citizens to the great courts of the Republic, in which deployed high political virtues. His personality traits appear in several sources: physical resilience (do hot or cold, always wore the same dress) and power of concentration (was able to spend all day and abstracted, in full military campaign overnight, reflecting on a problem, regardless of the danger). In the years of youth, it dealt with the philosophy of the nature of the Ionians, headed probably by Archelaus. Maybe the famous incident of the Oracle at Delphi can take as a moment of rupture with this philosophy: an admirer of Socrates asked the Oracle who was the wisest man, and the Oracle replied that there was no man wiser than Socrates. From this moment, he said in his moral philosophy. He was not a school. Your "classroom" was the street. I spoke with who was on the way. He asked his interlocutor opinion had of itself; What was it, for example, the truth, the value. Thus he established his art, maieutics (art of giving birth), who claimed to have learned from his mother. To those who strutted their knowledge, made them fall into the ridicule of their ignorance (it was irony, another of their methods of knowledge). I only know that I know nothing, he used to say of himself.

If on the one hand earned the admiration of the well prepared, on the other was white's criticisms of the reactionary supporters of ancient philosophy. He said their decisions at all times, even at the risk of his own life. When the thirty gathered his collaboration for a political murder for reasons of State, Socrates refused to give their assent. His enemies arreciaron in diatribes and accusations, until they processed it for impiety (because introduced, according to the prosecutors, new gods) and for corrupting youth. Imprisoned, he refused to accept the help of their friends to escape. Sentenced to death, himself took the hemlock, while calmly, he visited with their fans on the immortality of the soul.

The teachings of Socrates

In Socrates begins a new era of Greek philosophy, because all subsequent schools by divergent that they seem to emanate from it. Not founded any system, rather it was declared antagonist of the sophistry, and in general of all speculation, looking as useless and reckless science that goes beyond the limits of consciousness and non-aims at the moral perfection of man. His work consisted in cause man to observation itself, and make the main object of philosophy of the human soul. He was the founder of morality, the first who suspected their existence, and laid the foundations of the natural law. Not only Socrates philosophy was a science, but an art; He did everything he could in his life the good and beautiful that taught in their lessons. Master of men, fearless soldier and judge, straight, faithfully fulfilled the duties of civil and private life. His fight against the Sophists and the frankness of his moral and political teaching many enemies resulted in him. Aristophanes began to ridicule him in his comedies, and this gave the first blow to his popularity. Melito, Anito and Licon reproached him that it corrupting the youth and was unaware of the national gods introducing new deities.

Socrates did not leave anything written. Everything we know about him owe it to old testimonies, mainly to Plato (who was his direct disciple), Xenophon and some references of Aristotle. It also appears in the comedy the clouds, by Aristophanes, but this latter testimony is not very trust for its cartoony style. In fact, according to the sources that we stick, we will obtain different images of Socrates. In any case, we must more suggestive knowledge to Plato, although it is very difficult to discern the doctrines of one and other.

According to Aristotle, the two most valuable contributions of Socrates philosophy were: the inductive procedure and the universal definition. But the most characteristic Socrates teaching is based on morality. The ancient sources agree in attributing to the Socratic morality a positive doctrine of virtue: that which says that virtue is knowledge, where drift all wrongdoing is a result of ignorance and, therefore, involuntary. The so-called Socratic paradox consists in considering that to know virtue is to be virtuous, in the same way that knowing mathematics is to be mathematical. The other fundamental doctrine of his ethics is the care of itself as the true meaning of human life. Self-knowledge as the soul becomes sophrosyne, or Temperance and opposes the akrasia (or lack of mastery of the own corporeal if), that occurs when the soul in breach of the duties for herself, not realizing, therefore, its own function.

While it is true that Socrates is shown little interest by metaphysics and that he even built a philosophical system, there's no denying you the enormous influence that exerted on Plato and, therefore, on Aristotle.

Bibliography

CALVO, T.: Of the Sophists, Plato: politics and thought, Madrid: chisel, 1986.

COMPLESTON, f.: History of philosophy, t. I, Barcelona: Ariel, 1971.

GUTHRIE, W. K. C.: History of Greek philosophy, t. II, Madrid: Gredos, 1985.

MONDOLFO, r.: The understanding of the human subject in ancient culture, Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 1979.

TOVAR, a.: Life of Socrates.

JAEGER, w.: Paideia: the ideals of Greek culture, Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1957.