Socrates: The Athenian Philosopher

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Socrates: The Athenian Philosopher Socrates lived from 469-399 BC in the city of Athens. He originally wanted to pursue the study of the natural sciences, but he soon realized he wanted to be a philosopher. With his studies as a philosopher, he soon became a teacher, never accepting money for his teachings. His teaching style was quite unusual. He would break down someone's arguments and even simple statements, to the point that they would discover a truth. This method of teaching, called the Socratic Method, is still widely used today.

During Socrates' life, Athenian democracy had several features different from the democracy of America today. Athens had a Council of 500 administrators that handled daily affairs. They were chosen by a lottery to avoid a "popularity contest." Legal disputes often had juries, ranging from 201 to 1001 members, to avoid bribery becoming a problem. Athenians had a yearly event known as ostracism.

The citizens would each write the name of one politician that should be removed from his position, and if there were 6,000 votes for a politician, that person would be banished for ten years.

Socrates said, "Democracy carries within it the seeds of its own destruction." He said people would abuse their liberty for their own whims, creating excess. This uncontrolled liberty becomes anarchy, forming the destruction of democracy. Therefore, Socrates concluded that democracy only works if people are willing to follow a democracy's set laws. This writer believes that Socrates is saying that democracy can easily go out of control because liberty can be dangerous if abused by irresponsible people.

The quote by Socrates is quite relevant today because our society has been slowly going into decay. For example, many people today only vote for politicians because they that person may be...