Socrates’ Disagreement with the Sophists

Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, believed in absolute truths.  The sophists on the other hand, preached that everything is relative.  ‘What is true for me may not be true for you, and what’s true for you may not be true for me’, was the sophists’ general message.  Socrates would go and debate with ‘wise men’ of Greece.  Time after time, he found that the answers to his questions weren’t satisfactory.  This led him to believe that these ‘wise men’ weren’t actually wise.  He, through his philosophy of virtue, earned himself great renown and eventually he became known as the wisest man in Greece.

The argument between Socrates and the sophists was their conflicting views.  If, like the sophists teach, everyone has their own truths true for them, no one would have any wisdom, nor would they rely on it.  Socrates was bent on discovering what is true for everyone.  He believed people should search for wisdom and virtue.  That the ‘good life’ consists of wisdom and virtue, appertaining to everyone.

Not only did Socrates anger the sophists, but the state as well.  He was accused of corrupting the minds of the youth and impiety.  Also angering the state was his varying direct and indirect praise of Sparta, Athens’ rival.  He was sentenced death by consuming poison.  Though he had a chance to escape prison, he denied it because he thought that a philosopher shouldn’t be afraid of death, and because he was subject to Athens.

Socrates left a legacy in Plato’s works.  We can’t be sure of the accuracy of the portrayal of Socrates by Plato, but nonetheless, it’s all we have.


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