The Real Face of Socrates

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To get started with answering question one, yes I do believe Socrates is an admirable character, however I do not think he is worthy of being an influencer due to many factors that I will talk about are inspiration and pleasure vs happiness which I will go in depth later on. To answer question two, I will bring up the topic of perspective and why Socrates did not change my stance on what he talks about within Plato’s discussions.

Socrates as he is depicted by Plato seems to be very honest, naïve, and admirable. My reasoning for this is due to his argumentative skills and wisdom. He was shown to be very honest when he conversed among the people of Athens, showing off his argumentative skills to reason with peoples’ opinions with philosophy. Given his age, Socrates had a lot of knowledge of the everyday workings of society, nevertheless he accepted that he knew only so much compared to the next Athenian, whether they were a politician or poet. “This man among you, mortals, is wisest who like Socrates, understands his wisdom is worthless.”, “he makes the worse into a stronger argument,” Following this, to say he is admirable and inspirational is a different idea entirely. According to the Oxford dictionary the word Admirable means “Arousing or deserving respect and approval”, following this definition of the word admirable, I believe that Socrates is most definitely an admirable character, however to say he can be an inspiration is much different scenario.

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Today, there are people who inspire and motivate others due to their character traits and success, but to call them or Socrates inspirational is not true, and I am going to explain why. First off, is the different between inspiration and motivation, something that inspires someone wont necessarily mean that they will be motivated, this idea can also be related to pleasure and happiness, where pleasure is like inspiration creating short-term satisfaction, whereas happiness is like motivation as it creates long-term satisfaction which would contribute to success. To be clear inspiration is only an idea, whereas motivation is a goal. Being philosophical requires interpersonal skills which Socrates has, other traits such as wisdom and integrity which are also needed to a philosopher given his age and experience, but to say someone is inspirational when they are poor, and unsuccessful can result in mental health issues such as doing everything for god. To this I say not only do we not know the “real” Socrates, only Plato’s depiction of him, but it could very well be that he does not fear death because he is in some state of a mental health issue; and given the fact that everyone believed in god in Athens and more generally Ancient Greece, he could use that easily saying he believes in gods and his journey is to please them in order to bring his soul to a much better place after dying.

Everyone’s beliefs are different, to ask if someone is inspirational to everyone, or could be an inspiration to everyone is most certainly a philosophical question, due to its generality. I do know that someone will argue the opposite and that Socrates is inspirational and influential, but this all comes down to personality, beliefs, and experience which all affect someone’s perspective. An example of this is reading, people may be pleasured from reading Plato’s Apology, but it wont lead to the success of themselves, not without hard work and dedication. Even the time gap between 300BC and today, reading books will not bring you success, success will result from the hard work you put in which will create happiness.

To be honest, a lot of the arguments Socrates made didn’t really change the way I thought about a particular subject. My reasoning for this is the topics he talks about such as going to court, pious or impious, philosophy in general, religion, gods, or even politics I either don’t believe in or don’t care much about to have an opinion I care about. Its because of this that Socrates as great as he might be didn’t have much of an effect on me.To conclude my critical assessment of Socrates, I do not think Socrates is an inspirational character because of the definition of inspiration and what it means to be inspired as it goes against Socrates and how he wants peace and happiness for the soul, following this is Socrates’ perspective, experience and the beliefs he encompassed within himself before dying for god.


  1. Plato. (2000). The Trial and Death of Socrates (Vol. 1). Stephanus: 26-b, 23-c: HACKETT publishing company.

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