Athens, Ancient Greece, 470/469 B.C.-Athens, Ancient Greece, 399 A. D.

The name of Socrates has passed to posterity as the Greek thinker who influenced Western thought. He was a philosopher of profound wisdom whose most famous line is “I only know that I know nothing.”

From humble origins, Socrates probably only got basic studies and worked as a bricklayer or perhaps master stonemason. He also served in the army of Athens in the Potidea, Amphipolis and Delio campaigns before turning to philosophy. He left no writings, so the little that is known about his work in life is based on the writings of his disciples, mainly Plato and Xenophon, as well as his contemporary Aristophanes.

As a philosopher, he stood out for his intellectual brilliance and created his own ethical system based solely on reason and not on religious dogma. He insisted on the cultivation of the mind over the primacy of the beauty of the human body. His most important contribution was the implementation of the “Socratic method”, a style of inquiry built on the basis of debate between people with opposing views. In this dialectical method, questions and answers are formulated that guide knowledge and strengthen one’s viewpoint.

Socrates didn’t hold conferences. His particular form was the dialogue with all kinds of people, anywhere, leading to the enlightenment of ideas and the warning of moral complacency. From his point of view, the choice of man is given by the pursuit of happiness, and the more he knows, his ability to reason becomes actions that bring him greater happiness.

When many Athenians believed Socrates’ teachings threatened the way of life of the citizens, he was sentenced to death for “corrupting the youth”. The philosopher preferred to die by drinking hemlock than save himself in exile so he kept his strong ideals until his death, which he waited for discussing its meaning.

His teachings and methods laid the foundations of Western philosophy and logic.