Socrates Quotes


Socrates ( 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.

“The mind is everything; what you think you become.”

“I only know that I know nothing.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

“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.”

“Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.”

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

“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.”

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

“Know yourself.”

“The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.”

“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”

“Let him who would move the world first move himself.”

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.”

“I examined the poets, and I look on them as people whose talent overawes both themselves and others, people who present themselves as wise men and are taken as such, when they are nothing of the sort.”

.“Every action has its pleasures and its price.”

“Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.”

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.”

“Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.”

“We cannot live better than in seeking to become better.”

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

“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.”

“Envy is the ulcer of the soul.”

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

“understanding a question is half an answer”

“The hottest love has the coldest end.”

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

“Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.”

“Be nicer than necessary to everyone you meet. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.”

“The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be.”

“Be as you wish to seem.”

“If you want to be a good saddler, saddle the worst horse; for if you can tame one, you can tame all.”

“I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.”

“I pray Thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within. ”

“The really important thing is not to live, but to live well. And to live well meant, along with more enjoyable things in life, to live according to your principles.”

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

“Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.”

“In all of us, even in good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep.”

“If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be content to take their own and depart.”

“One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him.”

“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 easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves. ”

“The greatest blessing granted to mankind come by way of madness, which is a divine gift.”

“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.”

“Children nowadays are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannise their teachers.”

“Be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth, that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”

“Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults.”

“Virtue does not come from wealth, but. . . wealth, and every other good thing which men have. . . comes from virtue.”

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”

“Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued. ”

“He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.”

“To move the world we must move ourselves.”

“The misuse of language induces evil in the soul”

“I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.”

“When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you want to breathe, it is then you shall have it.”

“It is better to change an opinion than to persist in a wrong one.”

“May the inward and outward man be as one.”

“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.”

“Those who are hardest to love need it the most.”

“Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.”

The Death of Socrates

12 thoughts on “Socrates Quotes

  1. paulwhitberg

    Thank you for posting these fantastic quotes from one of my heroes and one of the wisest people to ever live! Socrates’ choice to die rather than cease philosophizing demonstrates how sincerely he believed, as he says in the *Apology*, that a “life without enquiry is not worth living” (526). With his death, he fulfilled the promise he made in *Meno* to “fight…to the end, in both word and deed…to find out what is not known” (49).


  2. ivasallay

    Some of these quotes I’ve heard before, but I had no idea they originated with Socrates. They are timeless. Thanks for the compilation!



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