Socrates is one of the most eminent Greek philosophers, credited as one of the actual founders of the Western philosophy. His works, ideas, and worldviews are generally known through the accounts of his students Plato and Xenophon.
Interestingly enough, he wasn’t well bread. He was actually a plebeian, which made him undesirable, at the very least, in the aristocratic world of ancient Greece. He had served in the hoplite infantry, but his physical presence was quite diminished by his instinct for philosophical discussion.
Socrates used to wander barefoot about the marketplace and talk to the people he met. When he spent time alone, he would stand for hours and drift away with his thoughts. While he was extremely polite and wise, he didn’t fit in and people thought he was strange, at the very least.
Unlike the Sophists, the professional thinkers of ancient Greece, Socrates never charged a fee for his services. He didn’t establish any institutes or school, he didn’t write anything, and he claimed that he had nothing to teach. Still, it turns out that he is the one responsible for creating the philosophy of the Western World.
His career started when the Oracle at Delphi claimed him to be the wisest man alive. Consequently, he indeed had quite a reputation to deal with. Everyone wanted to meet him and know more about his ideas. However, he was the only one stumped by this judgment! Given that he had no writings whatsoever and haven’t established any school, he thought that he knew nothing at all. As he saw it, he was a philosophical novice.
But, wherever he went, he found the same thing! ‘[T]he people with the greatest reputations were almost entirely deficient [in wisdom], while others who were supposed to be their inferiors were much better qualified in practical intelligence’
With this being said, it`s no wonder that Socrates is definitely one of the wisest men who ever lived, despite the fact that he celebrated no teachings. Here are some of his top quotes that everyone needs to be familiar with. They are life-changing, indeed!
1. “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”
2. “Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.”
3. “Understanding a question is half an answer”
4. “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us”
5. “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”
6. “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”
7. “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
8. “If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”
9. “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”
10. “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
11. “To find yourself, think for yourself.”
12. “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
13. “Know thyself.”
14. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
15. “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
16. “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”
17. “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”
18. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
19. “Let him who would move the world first move himself.”
20. “The mind is everything; what you think you become”
21. “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
22. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
23. “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.”
24. “To be is to do”