Was Socrates Real or a Creation of Plato? | Summary and Q&A

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September 4, 2015
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Was Socrates Real or a Creation of Plato?

TL;DR

Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher, is known through Plato's dialogues, but some question his existence. However, his impact on philosophy remains significant regardless.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How do we know about Socrates' philosophy if there are no original works from him?

Although we don't have Socrates' original works, we rely on Plato's dialogues, which record conversations with him. However, these dialogues may have been edited and fictionalized versions of their discussions.

Q: Could Socrates have been an invention of Plato?

Some speculate that Socrates was a fictional character created by Plato, but mentions of him by other writers like Xenophon and Aristophanes suggest otherwise. A proper historical analysis would shed more light on this.

Q: What characteristics were attributed to Socrates?

Socrates was portrayed as a bit of a bum, slob, and troll, as well as a heavy drinker. However, these traits make him seem like a normal, believable person rather than an extraordinary figure.

Q: Does it matter for philosophers whether Socrates was real or not?

From a philosophical perspective, it doesn't matter if Socrates was real or an invention. His teachings and the questions he posed are still influential and contribute to the development of philosophy.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Socrates lived in ancient Athens, and his philosophy is mostly known through Plato's dialogues, which may contain fictionalized versions of their conversations.

  • Some doubt Socrates' existence, speculating that he may have been an invention of Plato. However, other sources mention him, such as Xenophon and playwright Aristophanes.

  • Socrates was described as a normal person, not extraordinary, which contributes to the belief that he was a real individual. His contributions to philosophy remain influential regardless.

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