Socrates & Plato


Socrates (469 – 399BC)

Personal Details

  • Turned philosophy away from theory about nature towards ethics & anthropology
  • Philosophy : Not the acceptance of doctrine, but a way of life
  • Had many students, comprises from philosophers, politician, but he refuse to accept payment for his teaching
  • He also denied that he was a teacher
  • Among his famous students – Plato, Xenophanes, Aristotle
  • Famous quote

    “One thing only I know, and that is, I know nothing”

  • Served once as a soldier during Peloponesian War (Between Greek and Persian)
  • Was married
    • Wife: Xantippe (“red horse”)
    • 3 children
  • Completely indifferent to wealth and luxury
  • Was executed for introducing strange gods (denied traditional gods of Greek) and also for corrupting the youths.
  • Wrote nothing, taught only via orally.
  • Sources of his teaching
    • Plato’s Dialog – Main character is Socrates
    • Xenophanes’s Socratic Works
    • Aristotle.


  • Moral leading being who tried to understand himself
  • Essence in a human : soul
  • Main aim of soul – recognition of good
  • Give answer to the question “Why human made bad actions?”
    • Human didn’t know the good was
    • If human knew about good, he would never made bad actions
    • Achievements of good is the main aim of human
  • “Good” is characterized by
    • Good physical health & body forces – promotes to moral life
    • Spiritual health, mental abilities, soul abilities
    • Science & arts necessary for happy life
    • Friendship between free citizens
    • Family
    • State of the city
  • Distinguish 3 main virtues
    • Self control
    • Courage
    • Justice


  • Work out the method of teaching
    • The master impacts no information, but asks a sequence of question through answering, the student will come to the true knowledge.
    • Dialectic – “Art of Conversation”

Pluto (429 – 347BC)

Personal Details

  • Greatest western philosopher
  • Born in Athens, in a very rich, noble aristocratic family
  • The 1st great systematic philosopher of the west
  • Meet Socrates was the turning point in his life
  • Became a passionate lover of wisdom
  • Famous quote:

    “I thank god that I was born Greek & not Barbarian, free man & not slave, man & not woman, but above all, I was born in the age of Socrates”

  • Strong fighter, had twice won the sports game.
  • After the death of Socrates, he traveled a lot and communicated with lots of famous scientists, philosophers, politician of his period.
  • When he returned to Athens, he founded his own philosophy school – Academia (“academ”: Greek mythological hero)
  • Academia: 1st institution of general higher education in the west.
  • Wrote dramatic dialogs – Often use Socrates as the main character.
  • All his dialogs is preserved
  • Has 3 periods of writing:
    • Early
      • “Hippias Major”
      • “Hippias Minor”
      • “Protaghoras”
      • “Meno”
    • Middle
      • “Phaedo”
      • “Sympocium”
      • “Republic”
    • Late
      • “Parmenides”
      • “Laws”


  • He was deeply impressed by philosophical idea of:
    • Heraclitus
    • Pythagoras
    • Socrates
  • Like Pythagoras, he believe in immortality of soul & theory of reincarnation
  • He also was interested in mathematical use by Pythagoras
  • Like Heraclitus, he wrote about constant flux of all sensitive things.
  • He tried to explain ethics & social life by using Socratic’s Philosophy
  • Create the system of objective idealism
    • Distinguish 2 worlds:
      • Ideal Forms (Primary)
      • Material Sensitive Pains (Secondary)

Theory of Forms

  • Forms – Ideal Real: Beauty, Justice, Equality etc
  • Prefer to discuss forms corresponding to virtues, moral values or mathematical concepts such as equality.
  • They may be formed corresponding to all of most general terms (window, mat, bed etc)
  • Example: “bed” – katil
    • Many beds exists – single, double, queen size, etc
    • There is something shared between all beds that makes them ‘beds’.
    • That something is X
    • X is relation of an ideal Bed (form of Bed)
    • X exists only in human mind
    • X (Bed) is the only real bed.
    • Concrete visible beds are only shadow of imperfect copy of the form of ideal Bed.
  • Forms:
    • Independent, real, divine, invisible, unchangeable
    • Ideal model for all concrete visible things/material
    • Object of true knowledge are eternal & unchangeable.
  • Plato distinguished between knowledge (episteme) & opinions (doxa)
    • Knowledge: Mental state of the man whose thought recognizes a Beauty in itself (ideal form of Beauty)
    • Opinion: The man who believes in beautiful things (not Beauty itself)
  • Plato distinguished some level of knowledge:
    • Highest: Rational intuition – directive thoughts that forms themselves
    • Second: Understanding – directive thoughts of mathematical concepts/numbers
    • Last: Opinion/Belief – knowledge of physical objects (is shadow of ideal forms, therefore lowest rank)
  • We must have direct contact with the ideal forms when our souls were out of the body.
  • We must have forgotten them at new birth, only to reconnect them later.
  • All learning of general truth is the process of reconnection.


  • Human can’t live alone
  • Many advantages in cooperation & communal living
  • Make sense to divide works according to different people’s skills.
  • 3 main social classes
    • Rulers
      • Knows about ideal forms
      • Therefore must be the philosophers
      • Have political power, ability to make all important decisions
    • Soldiers
      • Help the rulers
      • Provide defense against threat from outside
    • Workers
      • Well, workers must work. That’s all they do.
  • He elaborated analogy between social structure & individual soul.
    • Reasonable part of an individual à Rulers
    • Spiritual part of an individual à Soldiers
    • Desire part of an individual à Workers

3 Responses to “Socrates & Plato”

  1. 1 Kenny

    I can find no ancient source that attributes this to Plato:

    “I thank god that I was born Greek & not Barbarian, free man & not slave, man & not woman, but above all, I was born in the age of Socrates”

    Please provide a source if you have it. Thanks.

    thanks for your concern. unfortunately, the post was just one of my lecture notes, on the subject of philosophy. therefore i can’t really provide the exact reference except that i’m gonna need to ask my lecturer about it. however, if you do need to correct me or add any relevant remarks / additional informations, feel free to do so. i really appreciate that. =)

  2. I read this in the book “Story of Philosophy” by Will Durant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: