This page features a collection of the best resources on Socrates. Just to be clear, there is no single best resource on Socrates. The best one will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time you want to spend learning about him.
To get started, simply choose one of the links below:
If you want a comprehensive overview of Socrates:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Socrates. However, keep in mind that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy in often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 11,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces Socrates:
“The philosopher Socrates remains, as he was in his lifetime (469–399 B.C.E.), an enigma, an inscrutable individual who, despite having written nothing, is considered one of the handful of philosophers who forever changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived. All our information about him is second-hand and most of it vigorously disputed, but his trial and death at the hands of the Athenian democracy is nevertheless the founding myth of the academic discipline of philosophy, and his influence has been felt far beyond philosophy itself, and in every age. Because his life is widely considered paradigmatic for the philosophic life and, more generally, for how anyone ought to live, Socrates has been encumbered with the admiration and emulation normally reserved for founders of religious sects—Jesus or Buddha—strange for someone who tried so hard to make others do their own thinking, and for someone convicted and executed on the charge of irreverence toward the gods. Certainly he was impressive, so impressive that many others were moved to write about him, all of whom found him strange by the conventions of fifth-century Athens: in his appearance, personality, and behavior, as well as in his views and methods…”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
- Watch Prof. Mitch Green discuss one of Socrates’ most famous quotes: “the unexamined life is not worth living” in this short video by Wireless Philosophy [5:46 mins]
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
If you’d like to read a short passage from a classic work of philosophy:
- Read this section from Plato’s Apology of Socrates in which Socrates explains why the wisest person is the one who knows that they know nothing [1400 words]
If you’d just like to casually browse some quotes:
Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the Best Books on Socrates
For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.