Socrates Quotes 1–30 of 205 Quotes

Socrates (Σωκράτης; c. 470 BC – 399 BC) was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. Through his portrayal in Plato's dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, and it is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of pedagogy in which a series of questions is asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand.

Below are 30 of 205 sourced Socrates quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“I only wish that wisdom were the kind of thing that flowed … from the vessel that was full to the one that was empty.”

Plato

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas. Plato, Symposium, 175d

“It would be better for me... that multitudes of men should disagree with me rather than that I, being one, should be out of harmony with myself.”

Gorgias

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Socrates. “Socrates Quotes: 1–30 of 205 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Socrates-quotes.html#2

Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Gorgias Gorgias, 482c

“In every one of us there are two ruling and directing principles, whose guidance we follow wherever they may lead; the one being an innate desire of pleasure; the other, an acquired judgment which aspires after excellence.”

About Socrates

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Phaedrus Phaedrus

“Oh dear Pan and all the other gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him.”

Socrates' prayer

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Phaedrus Socrates' prayer, Phaedrus, 279

“Has a philosopher like you failed to discover that our country is more to be valued and higher and holier far than mother or father or any ancestor, and more to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men of understanding?”

About Socrates

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Crito Crito

“Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.”

Theaetetus

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Socrates. “Socrates Quotes: 1–30 of 205 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Socrates-quotes.html#6

Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Theaetetus Theaetetus, 155d

“ἐγὼ δὲ οὐδὲν ἐπίσταμαι πλέον πλὴν βραχέος, ὅσον λόγον παρ᾽ ἑτέρου σοφοῦ λαβεῖν καὶ ἀποδέξασθαι μετρίως.”

 Theaetetus

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Quote source:  • Theaetetus, 161b

“Each of these private teachers who work for pay ... inculcates nothing else than these opinions of the multitude which they opine when they are assembled and calls this knowledge wisdom.”

Plato

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Republic Plato, Republic, 493a

“Anyone who holds a true opinion without understanding is like a blind man on the right road.”

Plato

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Republic Plato, Republic, 506c

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“If the entire soul, then, follows without rebellion the part which loves wisdom, the result is that in general each part can carry out its own function—can be just, in other words—and in particular each is able to enjoy pleasures which are its own, the best, and, as far as possible, the truest. ... When one of the other parts takes control, there are two results: it fails to discover its own proper pleasure, and it compels the other parts to pursue a pleasure which is not their own, and not true.”

Plato

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Republic Plato, Republic, T. Griffith, trans. (2000), 587a

“πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν δ᾽ οὖν ἀπιὼν ἐλογιζόμην ὅτι τούτου μὲν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐγὼ σοφώτερός εἰμι· κινδυνεύει μὲν γὰρ ἡμῶν οὐδέτερος οὐδὲν καλὸν κἀγαθὸν εἰδέναι, ἀλλ᾽ οὗτος μὲν οἴεταί τι εἰδέναι οὐκ εἰδώς, ἐγὼ δέ, ὥσπερ οὖν οὐκ οἶδα, οὐδὲ οἴομαι· ἔοικα γοῦν τούτου γε σμικρῷ τινι αὐτῷ τούτῳ σοφώτερος εἶναι, ὅτι ἃ μὴ οἶδα οὐδὲ οἴομαι εἰδέναι.”

About Socrates

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Quote source:  • 21d

“I realized that it was not by wisdom that poets write their poetry, but by a kind of nature or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets; for these also say many beautiful things, but do not know anything of what they say.”

About Socrates

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 22c

“I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought they knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom — therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and the oracle that I was better off as I was.”

About Socrates

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 22d–e

“I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing... as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go on my way, obedient to the god, and make inquisition into anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and this occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.”

About Socrates

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 23a-c

“If somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practice or teach? they do not know, and cannot tell; but in order that they do not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all philosophers about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, and having no gods, and making the worse appear the better cause; for they do not like to confess that their pretense of knowledge has been detected — which is the truth...”

About Socrates

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 23d

“Now answer me this. Do you think that the same holds of horses? Do people in general improve them, whereas one particular person corrupts them or makes them worse? Or is it wholly the opposite: one particular person - or the very few who are horse trainers - is able to improve them, whereas the majority of people, if they have to do with horses and make use of them, make them worse? Isn't that true, Meletus, both of horses and of all other animals? Of course it is, whether you and Anytus say so or not. Indeed, our young people are surely in a very happy situation if only one person corrupts them, whereas all the rest benefit them.”

About Socrates

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Socrates. “Socrates Quotes: 1–30 of 205 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Socrates-quotes.html#17

Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 25b

“Either I do not corrupt them, or I corrupt them unintentionally, so that on either view of the case you lie. If my offense is unintentional, the law has no cognizance of unintentional offenses; you ought to have taken me privately, and warned and admonished me; for if I had been better advised, I should have left off doing what I only did unintentionally — no doubt I should; whereas you hated to converse with me or teach me, but you indicted me in this court, which is the place not of instruction, but of punishment.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 26a

“I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: any elaborate defense is unnecessary; but as I was saying before, I certainly have many enemies, and this is what will be my destruction if I am destroyed; of that I am certain; not Meletus, nor yet Anytus, but the envy and detraction of the world, which has been the death of many a good men, and will probably be the death of many more; there is no danger of my being the last of them.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 28a

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“If, I say now, when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfill the philosopher's mission of searching into myself and other men, I were to desert my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would indeed be strange, and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the existence of the gods... then I would be fancying that I was wise when I was not wise. For this fear of death is indeed the pretense of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the unknown; since no one knows whether death, which they in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. ...this is the point in which, as I think, I am superior to men in general, and in which I might perhaps fancy myself wiser than other men — that whereas I know but little of the world below, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 29a–b

“And how is not this the most reprehensible ignorance, to think that one knows what one does not know? But I, O Athenians! in this, perhaps, differ from most men; and if I should say that I am in any thing wiser than another, it would be in this, that not having a competent knowledge of the things in Hades, I also think that I have not such knowledge.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 29b [alternate translation]

“I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting anyone whom I meet after my manner, and convincing him, saying: O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this? And if the person with whom I am arguing says: Yes, but I do care: I do not depart or let him go at once; I interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue, but only says that he has, I reproach him with overvaluing the greater, and undervaluing the less. ...For this is the command of God, as I would have you know...”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 29d–30a

“I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 30a–b

“If you kill such a one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me. Meletus and Anytus will not injure me: they cannot; for it is not in the nature of things that a bad man should injure one better than himself. I do not deny that he may, perhaps, kill him, or drive him into exile, or deprive him of civil rights; and he may imagine, and others may imagine, that he is doing him a great injury: but in that I do not agree with him; for the evil of doing what Anytus is doing — of unjustly taking away another man's life — is greater far.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 30c–d

“So now, Athenian men, more than on my own behalf must I defend myself, as some may think, but on your behalf, so that you may not make a mistake concerning the gift of god by condemning me. For if you kill me, you will not easily find another such person at all, even if to say in a ludicrous way, attached on the city by the god, like on a large and well-bred horse, by its size and laziness both needing arousing by some gadfly; in this way the god seems to have fastened me on the city, some such one who arousing and persuading and reproaching each one of you I do not stop the whole day settling down all over. Thus such another will not easily come to you, men, but if you believe me, you will spare me; but perhaps you might possibly be offended, like the sleeping who are awakened, striking me, believing Anytus, you might easily kill, then the rest of your lives you might continue sleeping, unless the god caring for you should send you another.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 30e

“If I had engaged in politics, I should have perished long ago and done no good to either you or to myself. ...for the truth is that no man who goes to war with you or any other multitude, honestly struggling against the commission of unrighteouosness and wrong in the State, will save his life; he who will really fight for right, if he would live even for a little while, must have a private station and not a public one.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 31e

“I have had no regular disciples: but if anyone likes to come and hear me while I am pursuing my mission, whether he be young or old, he may freely come. Nor do I converse with those who pay only, and not with those who do not pay; but anyone, whether he be rich or poor, may ask and answer me and listen to my words; and whether he turns out to be a bad man or a good one, that cannot be justly laid to my charge, as I never taught him anything. And if anyone says that he has ever learned or heard anything from me in private which all the world has not heard, I should like you to know that he is speaking an untruth.”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 33a–b

“I did not go where I could do no good to you or to myself; but where I could do the greatest good privately to everyone of you, thither I went, and sought to persuade every man among you that he must look to himself, and seek virtue and wisdom before he looks to his private interests, and look to the State before he looks to the interests of the State; and that this should be the order which he observes in all his actions. What shall be done to such a one? Doubtless some good thing...”

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Quote source: Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem)., Plato:
The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas., Apology:
Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett unless otherwise specified.) 36c–d

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