Socrates main ideas were to 1. Care for your soul. 2. Knowledge is necessary to become virtuous and virtue is necessary to attain happiness. 3.All evil acts are committed out of ignorance and hence involuntary. 4. Committing an injustice is far worse than suffering an injustice. His main question was how should a person live. In order to properly contemplate this question one must strive after self knowledge: "the unexamined life is not worth living". Also once we know ourselves, we may learn how to better care for ourselves.
He believed that the soul is the true self. He said: "Most excellent man, are you not ashamed to care for the acquisition of wealth, reputation, and honor, when you neither care nor take thought for wisdom, truth, and the perfection of your soul?" He believed the one thing we all chase after is happiness, but many seek it in the wrong things. He also believed the one supreme and ultimate good was virtue. This is defined as moral excellence made up of courage, justice, prudence, and temperance.
He believed that if a person came to the knowledge that virtue was the only true good and therefore the only path to happiness, that all would follow it. Therefore everyone needed knowledge to follow virtue and find happiness. "No wise man believes that anyone sins or perpetuates any base or evil act willingly" (it is done out of ignorance). He believed that when we commit an injustice our true self is diminished, but when we suffer an injustice our true self is not harmed.
There are many short, interesting and excellent videos on Socrates. You may access some here
Here are some of his quotes:
"You don't speak well if you believe that a man worth anything would give consideration to anything but this; whether his actions are just or unjust, good or evil".
“The only true wisdom
is in knowing you know nothing.”
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
“I cannot teach
anybody anything. I can only make them think”
“There is only one
good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”
“Be kind, for
everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“Wonder is the
beginning of wisdom.”
“Strong minds discuss
ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”
“To find yourself,
think for yourself.”
“Education is the
kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
“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.
“He who is not
contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to
“Be slow to fall into
friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.”
“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.”
“The children now
love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show
disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now
tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders
enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble
up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
“Sometimes you put walls
up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”
“No man has the right
to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to
grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
“The secret of
happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the
capacity to enjoy less.”
“Let him who would
move the world first move himself.”
“Death may be the
greatest of all human blessings.”
“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.”
“Employ your time in improving yourself by
other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored
“The only good is
knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.”
“The hour of
departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live.
Which of these two is better only God knows.”
“Do not do to others
what angers you if done to you by others.”
“I am not an Athenian
or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."
“I examined the
poets, and I look on them as people whose talent overawes both themselves and
“Every action has its
pleasures and its price.”
“Prefer knowledge to
wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.”
“We cannot live better than in seeking to become better."