Although Socrates’s life contained hardship, he is still remembered as an admirable scholar. He was born in Athens in 470 BC. to Sophroniscus, a stonemason.
Socrates continued the stonemason business, and fought in the Peloponnesian War, giving him a respected reputation. He was married to Zanthippe and had three sons. He taught people for free and, among other teachings, spoke against democracy. This belief caused him to be accused of treason, corrupting youth, not showing the proper respect to Athens’s gods. In his trial, he refused to defend himself because he believed he had done nothing wrong. The jury had no other option but to declare him guilty, condemning him to death. Socrates died in Athens in 399 BC. from drinking poison.
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Many of Socrates’s teachings were about the proper way to live and how to achieve happiness. He taught that living a moral life granted happiness, not earthly possessions. Pursuing justice and goodness were considered far more admirable than wealth or power. His humility in knowing there was infinite knowledge to be had is proven in his famous quote, “I know that I know nothing.” Socrates invented a method of problem-solving known as the, “Socratic Method.” When posed a question, he would encourage discussion, debate, and most importantly, questions.
His students were encouraged to question everything. Socrates’s teachings and method are still impactful in human development today. One student influenced by Socrates was Plato. Born in 427 BC., Plato already had access to fine schooling because of his family’s wealth. Plato studied under Socrates until his death, whereupon, Plato left Athens and traveled the Mediterranean for the next twelve years. During his travels, Plato wrote numerous documents in which he would make up characters and have them discuss any number of subjects at great length.
This method of problem-solving is known as, “dialogue.” His old teacher, Socrates, was a regular main character. Another lasting impact of Plato was his school, “Academy.” He continued to educate and theorize until his death in 347 BC.
Because of Socrates, Plato was able to develop philosophy and education. Plato’s writings show his vast ability to theorize and his appreciation of Socrates’s method. In his writing, The Republic, Plato explores what part justice plays in happiness. His characters come to the conclusion that either kings must become philosophers or philosophers must become kings. Many of Plato’s writings are based on Socrates’s teachings. Similar to Socrates, Plato pondered how one should live. Some other theories of Plato’s were that the soul contained three parts, men and women should be able to receive the same education, and the concept of platonic love. Plato took what he had learned from Socrates and developed his own philosophical beliefs.
Just as Socrates influenced Plato, Plato taught Aristotle. He was born in 384 and his father worked as a physician for the king of Macedonia. When he turned seventeen, Aristotle left his home and studied at Academy for twenty years. During his time there, he went from being a student to a teacher. The famous Alexander the Great was tutored by Aristotle. Inspired by his time at Academy, Aristotle went on to found his own school, “Lyceum,” which competed with Academy.
Aristotle used his education to in turn educate others. Because of his father’s profession, and Plato’s influences Aristotle was inspired to study both biology and philosophy. He was one of the first people to dissect animals to learn their anatomy and the function of organs. He wrote three books on animals alone The Natural History of Animals, The Reproduction of Animals, and The Parts of Animals.
He founded the idea of formal logic along with his Five Elements Theory, syllogism, Four Causes Theory, and a practical study of astronomy. Aristotle took his understanding if philosophy and applied it to the physical world around him.