Ancient Greek Philosophy, Philosophy, Videos

Socrates: The Socratic Problem

The following is a transcript of this video.

In this lecture we investigate what is known as the Socratic problem, which is the problem as to whether we can arrive at knowledge of the historical Socrates, or whether he will always remain nothing but a work of fiction. We also look at the Socrates of Plato’s dialogues, and consider the question as to whether Plato was using Socrates as a mouthpiece for his own views, or espousing the actual ideas of the real Socrates.

Further Resources

Good Places to Start One’s Study of Socrates
Philosophy 101 by Socrates: An Introduction to Philosophy via Plato’s Apology (2012) – Peter Kreeft
Before and after Socrates (1932) – Francis Cornford
Socrates (1975) – A.E Taylor (note that the hardcover/paperback edition is difficult to find but the kindle edition is available on
Socrates: A Life Examined (2007) – Luis Navia
Greek Philosophers: From Thales to Aristotle (1960) – W.K.C Guthrie

More Advanced Works on Socrates
Socrates (1972) – W.K.C Guthrie
Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher (1991) – Gregory Vlastos

Plato’s Dialogues
In practically all of Plato’s dialogues Socrates is the main interlocutor. However, many scholars hold the view that it is only in Plato’s earlier dialogues that we have access to the historical Socrates and his ideas. While in Plato’s later dialogues it is believed that Plato uses Socrates as a mouthpiece for his own personal ideas. Below is a list of what are usually considered Plato’s early dialogues (and thus dialogues where one can find information regarding the historical Socrates).

Hippias Minor

Further Readings