Socrates has a unique position in the history of philosophy; it is no exaggeration to say that had it not been for his influence on Plato, the whole development of Western philosophy might have been unimaginably different. Yet Socrates wrote nothing himself, and our knowledge of him is derived primarily from the engaging and infuriating figure who appears in Plato's dialogues.
In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Taylor explores the life of Socrates and his philosophical activity, before looking to the responses his philosophical doctrines have evoked in the centuries since his betrayal and execution at fellow Athenian hands. Examining the relationship between the historical Socrates and the Platonic character, Taylor considers the complex question of how far it is possible to distinguish the philosopher's own thought from that of those others who wrote about him, and explores the enduring image of Socrates as the ideal exemplar of the philosophic life - a thinker whose moral and intellectual integrity permeated every detail of his life. This new edition also includes a new chapter analysing the reception and influence of Socrates in 19th and 20th century philosophical thought.