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What can we learn from Socrates?

To answer this question, I first explain who Socrates was.
What made him so special that we still talk about this man today?
What wisdom
s can we use in our everyday lives?
Read on and get inspired!

Who was Socrates?

Socrates was a Greek philosopher (469 – 399 BC Athens) and is known as the father of Western philosophy. Socrates himself did not put a word on paper, but thanks to his pupil Plato we know more about his life and the statements he made. Although we will never know for sure if the information is entirely true, because Plato wrote it based on his own perception.

Epictetus: When asked what nationality he belonged to, Socrates didn’t answer:
“I am an Athenian”, but “I am a citizen of the world.”

Socrates was interested in the knowledge of logical thinking (reason), especially in the field of ethics (good and evil). He urged fellow townspeople to think (critically) for themselves (about themselves, their gods and values) and not rely on the judgment of others. It was his habit to question everything. For example, he stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living” and “I know that I know nothing.” Socrates is described as someone who spoke critically about democracy. Not because he was in favor of a dictatorship, but because he wondered if everyone was thinking critically enough or was educated enough to vote or to run a country.

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think” – Socrates

The Socratic Method

Socrates’ method consisted of asking questions. He made it clear to his interlocutor that he did not know anything himself, but that he hoped to find an answer by thinking about it together. Today this is called the “Socratic method”. Once an interlocutor had given a definition, he showed that the same definition also applied to the opposite (as in beauty or courage). He wanted to stimulate the interlocutor to think for himself and not follow the “crowd”. The temple of Apollo in Delphi contains the inscription of the following ancient Greek words “γνῶθι σεαυτόν” (Gnõthi Seauton “). Translated: “Know yourself”. For example, he could have stated: “How can a person know something if he does not know himself? Who knows? And what is the value of such baseless knowledge? ”.

The hornet and the poison cup

Socrates caused irritation among fellow townspeople with his steadfast and sometimes intrusive way in which he took part in conversations. Socrates was therefore also known as “the hornet”. Ultimately, Socrates was accused of wickedness and “corrupting” the youth (who began to think critically and rebel against the elderly). He was sentenced to drink the poison cup. Socrates had time to flee, but he accepted death. The philosopher saw death as a division between body and soul. He believed in the immortality of the soul. The soul should focus on gaining insights and getting to know the truth. Whereas senses give people unreliable and inaccurate information.

Do you know yourself?

We can learn from Socrates that we should get to know ourselves as best as we can and to always questions ourselves and our environment. Socrates helped others by helping them gain insights about themselves. He believed that real insights can only come from within. They cannot be taught or imposed by others. In addition, Socrates was a man who did not care what others thought of him. He stood up for what he believed was important, such as justice and freedom of speech. He stayed true to himself and his motto, even though it eventually led to his death.

I’d rather die than to live without freedom – Socrates

To help you, Socrates could ask the following questions:

“Who are you?”
“Which values are important to you (what do you stand for)?”
“What Is justice?”
“What is freedom?”
“What does happiness mean to you?”
“What convinced you to create your beliefs?”
“What is better, intentional or unintentional misconduct?”
“What is the right upbringing?”
“Does friendship always have to be mutual?”
“Do our senses give us true knowledge of things?”
“What virtues are especially important to pursue?”

I would like to ask you the following questions:

“Do you live by your values?”
“Can you express yourself, or are you afraid of being rejected for your opinion?”
“In which situations do you adapt to someone else?”
“Do you make your own choices, or are you secretly being influenced by what others or society would think?”
“Are you convinced of certain things because you have researched them yourself, or because you have heard others say them?”
“Are you living your dream or the dream of your parents?”

The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new” – Socrates

You can ask yourself critical questions. If you could use helping doing this, feel free to send me a message!

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