Socrates was a Greek Philosopher who profoundly affected Western Philosophy through his indirect influence on others. He first began studying with the Sophists, the ancient Greek teachers of rhetoric, philosophy, and the art of successful living, prominent for their adroit, subtle, and allegedly often-specious reasoning. However, he believed in a superiority of argument over writing, and spent most of his time in the marketplace and public areas of Athens, engaging in dialogue or argument with anyone who was willing to learn. He achieved social popularity due to his keen sense of humor, and believed that sarcasm was the lowest form of humor. His use of critical reasoning, his unwavering commitment to truth, and through the example of his life, he set the standard for all subsequent Western Philosophy. His life and teachings were profound and far-reaching due to his attitude toward politics, his teachings, and his trial.
Because he wrote no books, and established no regular school of philosophy, not very much is certain about his personality and teachings.
All that is known of his teachings in that which has been ascertained from his pupils. Plato, a disciple of his, accepted his basic philosophy and dialectical style of debate: the pursuit of truth through questions, answers, and additional questions. Plato portrayed Socrates as hiding behind and ironical profession of ignorance, known as Socratic irony, and possessing a mental acuity and resourcefulness that enabled him to penetrate arguments with great facility. The second chief source on Socrates life and teachings comes from the historian Xenophon, a prosaic writer who probably failed to understand much of Socrates doctrine. Some historians even believe that Socrates was a fictional character created by Plato.
Socrates believed that pursuing philosophy would serve his country best. He was obedient to the laws of Athens, but generally...