Did Socrates Exist?
June 15, 2004 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Do we have any evidence outside of Plato that Socrates existed? Is it at all possible that Socrates was a literary construct?
posted by quarantine to Religion & Philosophy (3 answers total)
Apparently, there's quite a bit of documentation. Socrates lived during a very important period in Athenean history, and he was an important figure in the society. According to the wikipedia article that I've linked to here, he was written about by Thucydides, Aristophanes, Callias, Eupolis, Telecleides, and Xenophon, as well as by Plato. All of these were his contemporaries.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:59 PM on June 15, 2004

[kicking self]
Gee, wikipedia, obscure reference. Who would have expected me to find that on my own?
[/kicking self]

This honestly wasn't a stealth question, but by way of explanation, I've seen "You believe Socrates existed, don't you, and there is less evidence for that than for X," where X is a very apt stand-in, bandied about several times recently. The thrust of the argument is always that Plato is the only source for evidence of Socrates. This seemed far-fetched to me, but as I apparently read the wrong bits of Aristophanes (and none of the others) in college, I couldn't come up with a counter-example, and my Mad Google Ninja Skillz failed me.

Thanks for the help.
posted by quarantine at 9:10 PM on June 15, 2004

I recall posting something about Socrates, myself.
posted by y2karl at 10:48 PM on June 15, 2004

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