About Socrates

Socrates (470 – 399 BC) was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon.  Wikipedia

References:   Encyclopaedia Britannica   |   Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Socrates (quotes)

Principles for living


Living well

  • Living well and beautifully and justly are all one thing. 
  • Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued. 
  • It is not living that matters, but living rightly.

Contentment and simple living

  • Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.
  • He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature. 
  • He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. 
  • How many things are there which I do not want.
  • My belief is that to have no wants is divine. 
  • The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.

Knowing and not knowing

  • I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
  • I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.
  • I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing. 
  • If he who does not know kept silent, discord would cease.
  • To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge. 
  • True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.
  • The Delphic Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks.  It is because I alone of all the Greeks know that I know nothing.
  • The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance. 
  • …although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is, for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. 
  • The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. 


  • Know thyself. 
  • My friend…care for your psyche…know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves

Thinking for oneself

  • I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.
  • To find yourself, think for yourself.


  • Wisdom begins in wonder. 
  • The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. 
  • True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

Being true to oneself

  • The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be. 
  • I think it’s better to have my lyre or a chorus that I might lead out of tune and dissonant, and have the vast majority of men disagree with me and contradict me, than to be out of harmony with myself, to contradict myself, though I’m only one person.


  • Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant. 


  • The enlightenment is not in the answer but in the question. 

Change and initiative

  • Let him that would move the world, first move himself.
  • The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but building the new.  


  • Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.


  • He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy. 


  • Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.
  • We cannot live better than in seeking to become better. 
  • Be as you wish to seem. 

The golden rule

  • Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.

Conscious living

  • An unexamined life is not worth living.


  • Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.
  • The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.


  • Life is like a drop of dew on a leaf. 
  • Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore, avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity. 


  • I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.

Human challenges and shortcomings



  • One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him. 


  • False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.


  • Beware the barrenness of a busy life. 


  • An envious man waxeth lean with the fatness of his neighbours. 
  • Envy is the ulcer of the soul. 

Thoughts on …



  • A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true. 


  • Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us. 


  • Thou should eat to live; not live to eat.  
  • Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live. 


  • Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior. 


  • If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart. 
  • If all the misfortunes of mankind were cast into a public stack in order to be equally distributed among the whole species, those who now think themselves the most unhappy would prefer the share they are already possessed of before that which would fall to them by such a division.  


  • If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it. 
  • Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the state.


  • The hottest love has the coldest end.


  • From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.


  • The individual leads in order that those who are led can develop their potential as human beings and thereby prosper. 


  • The poets are only the interpreters of the gods.


  • Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.  
  • I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence. 
  • Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death.
  • The end of life is to be like God, and the soul following God will be like Him.
  • All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.


  • Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.
  • Beauty is the bait which with delight allures man to enlarge his kind.


  • Where there is reverence there is fear, but there is not reverence everywhere that there is fear, because fear presumably has a wider extension than reverence.


  • An honest man is always a child. 
  • I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.


  • 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. 
  • As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent.

Others on Socrates

  • Socrates told us, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I think he’s calling for curiosity, more than knowledge. In every human society at all times and at all levels, the curious are at the leading edge.  Roger Ebert
  • The maxim, “An unexamined life is not worth living,” is the priceless legacy of Socrates to the generations of men who have followed him upon this earth. The beings who have stood on humanity’s summit are those, and only those, who have heard the voice of across the centuries. The others are a superior kind of cattle.  Nicholas Murray Butler
  • The sudden awakening of the samurai to his own agitated state illustrates the crucial difference between being caught up in a feeling and becoming aware that you are being swept away by it. Socrate’s injunction “Know thyself” speaks to the keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.   Daniel Goleman

More thoughts

  • The comic and the tragic lie inseparably close, like light and shadow. 
  • I was afraid that by observing objects with my eyes and trying to comprehend them with each of my other senses I might blind my soul altogether.
  • See one promontory, one mountain, one sea, one river, and see all. 
  • The soul, like the body, accepts by practice whatever habit one wishes it to contact. 

On a lighter note

  • 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.