The Socratic problem Essay

This essay has a total of 331 words and 2 pages.

Forming an accurate picture of the historical Socrates and his philosophical viewpoints is
problematic. This issue is known as the Socratic problem.

Socrates did not write philosophical texts. The knowledge of the man, his life, and his
philosophy is based on writings by his students and contemporaries. Foremost among them is
Plato; however, works by Xenophon, Aristotle, and Aristophanes also provide important
insights.[4] The difficulty of finding the ?real? Socrates arises because these works are
often philosophical or dramatic texts rather than straightforward histories. Aside from
Thucydides (who makes no mention of Socrates or philosophers in general) and Xenophon,
there are in fact no straightforward histories contemporary with Socrates that dealt with
his own time and place. A corollary of this is that sources that do mention Socrates do
not necessarily claim to be historically accurate, and are often partisan (those who
prosecuted and convicted Socrates have left no testament). Historians therefore face the
challenge of reconciling the various texts that come from these men to create an accurate
and consistent account of Socrates' life and work. The result of such an effort is not
necessarily realistic, merely consistent.

Plato is frequently viewed as the most informative source about Socrates' life and
philosophy.[5] At the same time, however, many scholars believe that in some works Plato,
being a literary artist, pushed his avowedly brightened-up version of "Socrates" far
beyond anything the historical Socrates was likely to have done or said; and that
Xenophon, being an historian, is a more reliable witness to the historical Socrates.
Parsing which Socrates?the "real" one, or Plato's own mouthpiece?Plato is using at any
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