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Quotations --- Socrates


 

The only true wisdom is in knowing you 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.

 

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.

 

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

 

To find yourself, think for yourself.

 

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.

 

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

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

Know thyself.

 

Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.

 

Let him who would move the world first move himself.

 

Every action has its pleasures and its price.

 

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

 

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.

 

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 nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

 

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

 

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

 

We cannot live better than in seeking to become better.

 

Envy is the ulcer of the soul.

 

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

 

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.

 

The hottest love has the coldest end.

 

Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.

 

From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.

 

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.

 

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

Esteemed friend, citizen of Athens, the greatest city in the world, so outstanding in both intelligence and power, aren't you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige--while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry?

 

Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.

 

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

 

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

 

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of -- for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

 

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

 

All men's souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.

 

Through your rags I see your vanity.

 

I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled [poets] to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.

 

My friend...care for your psyche...know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves.

 

Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.

 

The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.

 

And therefore if the head and the body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first and essential thing. And the care of the soul, my dear youth, has to be effected by the use of certain charms, and these charms are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where temperance comes and stays, there health is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but to the whole body.

 

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

 

I only know that I know nothing.

 

I did not care for the things that most people care about – making money, having a comfortable home, high military or civil rank, and all the other activities, political appointments, secret societies, party organizations, which go on in our city . . . I set myself to do you – each one of you, individually and in private – what I hold to be the greatest possible service. I tried to persuade each one of you to concern himself less with what he has than with what he is, so as to render himself as excellent and as rational as possible.

 

God takes away the minds of poets, and uses them as his ministers, as he also uses diviners and holy prophets, in order that we who hear them may know them to be speaking not of themselves who utter these priceless words in a state of unconsciousness, but that God himself is the speaker, and that through them he is conversing with us.

 

To express oneself badly is not only faulty as far as the language goes, but does some harm to the soul.

 

Living well and beautifully and justly are all one thing.

 

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 misuse of language induces evil in the soul.

 

Give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward and the inward man be at one.

 

For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles.

 

“…money and honour have no attraction for them; good men do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing and so to get the name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves out of the public revenues to get the name of thieves. And not being ambitious they do not care about honour. Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them, and they must be induced to serve from the fear of punishment. And this, as I imagine, is the reason why the forwardness to take office, instead of waiting to be compelled, has been deemed dishonourable. Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself. And the fear of this, as I conceive, induces the good to take office, not because they would, but because they cannot help — not under the idea that they are going to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, and because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to any one who is better than themselves, or indeed as good. For there is reason to think that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office would be as much an object of contention as to obtain office is at present…”

 

I honor and love you: but why do you who are citizens of the great and mighty nation 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? Are you not ashamed of these?... I do nothing but go about persuading you all, not to take thought for your persons and your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by more, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man.

 

To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.

 

Are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honour and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul?

 

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

 

Is there anyone to whom you entrust a greater number of serious matters than your wife? And is there anyone with whom you have fewer conversations?

 

Those who are hardest to love need it the most.

 

We do not know — neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I— what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it. As a result, all this superiority in wisdom which the oracle has attributed to me reduces itself to the single point that I am strongly convinced that I am ignorant of what I do not know.”

 

How can you wonder your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you?

 


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