Wikipedia 10K Redux by Reagle from Starling archive. Bugs abound!!!

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SoCrates

Socrates (470 B.C. - 399 B.C.), Greek philosopher, is famous for a great many things.  Arguably, his most important contribution to Western thought is something that has come to be known as the ''SocraticMethod''--a method of asking questions of a person in order to lead the person into contradicting himself--which laid the foundation for all later rational Western thought.  Closely associated with Socrates' use of his method is his desire to discover the ''logos,'' or true nature or essence, of a thing (or concept).  For example, in the ''Euthyphro'' Socrates asks a religious man, who believes he knows what piety is, to clarify the concept.

Socrates was what we today would euphamistically call a "street person".  He was not a land owner but instead wandered the streets talking to people, and getting food from kind citizens.  His attire was archaic-grunge, so to speak.  

Socrates taught PlaTo, who in turn taught ArisTotle, and it is this triumvirate of great Greek philosophers who started the WesterN tradition of PhiloSophy and by extension ScienCe.

Since he left no writings, all that we know of Socrates comes from the writings of just a few ancient Greeks, primarily Plato in PlatosDialogues (most of which were written in SocraticDialogue form), but also XenoPhon and AristoPhanes.

Socrates' reasoning and philosophy, and the questions they raised not only about ephemeral things but also political, moral, and legal matters drew the ire of the community's leaders who, fearing he was leading the young people of the city astray, held a vote and determined that he should be condemned to death, after a trial in which Socrates, instead of putting on an eloquent defense, called into question the whole basis for the trial.  The judges were unmoved.  Socrates' followers encouraged him to flee, but he refused on principle, and took the poison (hemlock) himself.  (Sound familiar?  Yes, this story has been reenacted in part or in whole, time and time again; those who do not learn from history are most certainly bound to repeat it.)  Socrates died at the age of 70.