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Why do people insist that Socrates was a great inspirational man, when there's no proof he ever existed?


  1. There is no “proof” of anything, only probability. The probability of Socrates existing is very high. Even if he wasn’t, the Socratic method is still extremely valuable.

  2. At the very least there is contemporary writing from Plato.
    That puts him one giant step ahead of Jesus. And it was about about a thousand years earlier so you’d expect LESS evidence.

  3. You are correct in that there is no direct evidence that Socrates existed. None of his writings have survived. However, students of his teaching have written about him, including famous philosophers like Aristotle and Plato. He was clearly inspirational to those that followed him.

  4. Actually, I am fairly certain he did not and was nothing more than a teaching tool of Plato.
    Edit: I shouldn’t say fairly certain, I should say that it is a possibility that he was a fictional character.

  5. if he was a great inspirational man, which in fact you are knowledgeable enough to repeat, his existence or not doesn’t really matter.
    think about it.

  6. There is a lot of controversy over whether Socrates was a good person or not. Isocrates doesn’t have much time for him (and nor do I).
    It was never in anyone’s interest in to invent Socrates as a character; there was no Socrates industry employing thousands of timeservers, and giving unlimited power to people who didn’t have the talent to get themselves noticed any other way.
    Now try saying that about Jesus.

  7. The notion that an unexamined life is not worth living is one of the great ideas of western civilization. Regardless of who really came up with it, it is attributed to Socrates. Whether Socrates existed or not, he has the added benefit of not having any wars, crusades, or inquisitions started in his name.

  8. You are correct in observing that the evidence for Jesus is as good as the evidence for Socrates.
    I do not know if I would call him inspirational but he certainly had a huge impact on Greek philosophy. And as the head of the Socrate-Plato-Artistotle trinity, he even had an influence on Christian interpretation in the early church.

  9. Well, he was the teacher of Xenophon, Aristophanes and Plato, and his trials were observed and recorded not by random believers who never even met him in person, but by the state and his students.
    It’s true, we’re totally taking Plato’s word for his philosophical stances, but we actually have solid evidence he existed.
    Magpie: Just so you know, it’s not that his writings didn’t survive, it’s more likely that he was illiterate, since literacy among poorer folks wasn’t widespread for his generation.

  10. There is no good evidence but it doesn’t matter. No one asserts he is divine and must be believed in and worshipped or you go to hell. The ideas that come to us through Plato can be evaluated on their own merit regardless. The Socratic method for example remains a useful tool for many in examining ideas and claims. Many scholars acknowledge the Socratic “problem” in that its pretty impossible to say much factual about Socrates as a historical and real man. Plato making him up entirely seems less likely since there are multiple independent writings (not all in one source or book) from different people contemporary to his purported lifetime.

  11. B/c he was a great inspirational ‘man’ even if h didn’t exist. Several here seem to have contemporary evidence.
    And, it’s true that no Crusades or wars were started ‘in his name’.

  12. Even if he didn’t live and was made up as a fictional character by Plato hos character was still inspirational. All the things he came up with would then simply be attributed to Plato instead as he wrote the ideas.


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