120 Socrates Quotes

There’s no better reminder that the good life is the best life than these Socrates quotes. We’ve rounded up 120 of the most famous ones to help get you through the week.

Socrates is known as one of the greatest philosophers who’s ever lived, and people even refer to him as the Father of Western Philosophy. However, he never actually published anything nor did he establish his own school like Plato and Aristotle. Instead, he used a unique method—now called the Socratic Method—of questioning that brought to light false beliefs and false assumptions.

Read the full collection to find out more.

Best Socrates Quotes

1. “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”

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

3. “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

4. “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for elders, and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

5. “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”

6. “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

7. “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.”

8. “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.”

9. “There is only one good—knowledge, and one evil—ignorance.”

10. “He who is not content with what he has, would not be content with what he would like to have.”

11. “To find yourself, think for yourself.”

12. “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.”

13. “Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.”

14. “Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.”

15. “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.”

16. “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

17. “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

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

19. “Let him who would move the world first move himself.”

20. “Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.”

Socrates Quotes on Wisdom and Good Judgement

21. “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.”

22. “Understanding a question is half an answer.”

23. “The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be.”

24. “Justice—if only we knew what it was.”

25. “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

26. “I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.”

27. “To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.”

28. “If you want to be a good saddler, saddle the worst horse; for if you can tame one, you can tame all.”

29. “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”

30. “The really important thing is not to live, but to live well. And to live well meant, along with more enjoyable things in life, to live according to your principles.”

31. “Be of good cheer about death, and know this of truth—that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”

32. “To be is to do.”

33. “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?”

34. “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.”

35. “The mind is everything—what you think, you become.”

36. “I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.”

37. “The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.”

38. “When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you want to breathe, it is then you shall have it.”

39. “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

40. “It is better to change an opinion than to persist in a wrong one.”

41. “There is no greater evil one can suffer than to hate reasonable discourse.”

42. “Well, although I do not suppose that either of us know anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is—for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know.”

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

44. “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.”

45. “Intelligent individuals learn from everything and everyone; average people, from their experiences. The stupid already have all the answers.”

46. “The ancient oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks.”

47. “Such as thy words are such will thine affections be esteemed, and such as thine affections will be thy deeds, and such as thy deeds will be thy life.”

48. “Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore, avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity.”

49. “I do believe that there are gods, and in a far higher sense than that in which any of my accusers believe in them.”

50. “The true champion of justice, if he intends to survive even for a short time, must necessarily confine himself to private life and leave politics alone.”

51. “By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.”

52. “Remember, no human condition is ever permanent. Then you will not be overjoyed in good fortune, nor too sorrowful in misfortune.”

53. “It is not difficult to avoid death, gentlemen of the jury; it is much more difficult to avoid wickedness, for it runs faster than death.”

54. “The answer I gave myself and the oracle was that it was to my advantage to be as I am.”

55. “How can you wonder if your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you?”

56. “Athenian men, I respect and love you, but I shall obey the god rather than you.”

57. “Injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil.”

58. “Would that the majority could inflict the greatest evils, for they would then be capable of the greatest good and that would be fine, but now they cannot do either. They cannot make a man either wise or foolish, but they inflict things haphazardly.”

59. “Well, then, let’s not just trust the likelihood based on painting.”

60. “I will not yield to any man contrary to what is right, for fear of death, even if I should die at once for not yielding.”

61. “It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong.”

Socrates Quotes on Contentment and Modesty

62. “Every action has its pleasures and its price.”

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

64. “We cannot live better than in seeking to become better.”

65. “Envy is the ulcer of the soul.”

66. “From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.”

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

68. “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.”

69. “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.”

70. “In all of us, even in good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep.”

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

72. “All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.”

73. “He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.”

74. “Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.”

75. “My plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth.”

76. “He is not only idle who does nothing, but he is idle who might be better employed.”

77. “How many things can I do without?”

78. “Mankind is made of two kinds of people—wise people who know they are fools, and fools who think they are wise.”

79. “Nobody is qualified to become a statesman who is entirely ignorant of the problem of wheat.”

80. “Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing—both to the individual and to the state.”

81. “Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.”

82. “I don’t know why I did it, I don’t know why I enjoyed it, and I don’t know why I’ll do it again.”

83. “Everything is plainer when spoken than when unspoken.”

84. “Programming is not about what you know. It’s about what you can figure out.”

85. “Each individual can only do one thing well. He can’t do lots of things. If he tries, he will be a jack of all trades, and master of none.”

86. “It is only in death that we are truly cured of the ‘sickness’ of life.’”

87. “We approach truth only inasmuch as we depart from life. For what do we, who love truth, strive after in life?”

88. “I never cease to rouse each and every one of you, to persuade and reproach you all day long and everywhere I find myself in your company.”

89. “Having the fewest wants, I am nearest to the gods.”

90. “Doing good is a matter of looking after the part of yourself which matters most, namely your soul.”

Socrates Quotes on Bonds and Appreciation of Beauty

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

92. “The hottest love has the coldest end.”

93. “Be nicer than necessary to everyone you meet. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”

94. “Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.”

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

96. “I pray to Thee, oh God, that I may be beautiful within.”

97. “If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of the muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the performances of the inspired madman.”

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

99. “The greatest blessing granted to mankind comes by way of madness, which is a divine gift.”

100. “Those who are hardest to love need it the most.”

101. “Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions, but those who kindly reprove thy faults.”

102. “Is it true, is it kind, or is it necessary?”

103. “The highest realms of thought are impossible to reach without first attaining an understanding of compassion.”

104. “Virtue does not come from wealth, but wealth, and every other good thing which men have, comes from virtue.”

105. “Through your rags I see your vanity.”

106. “There is no solution; seek it lovingly.”

107. “Living well, and beautifully, and justly are all one thing.”

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

109. “Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.”

110. “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion—a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.”

111. “As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent.”

112. “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?”

113. “Man’s greatest privilege is the discussion of virtue.”

114. “By means of beauty, all beautiful things become beautiful.”

115. “The poets are only the interpreters of the gods.”

116. “Get not your friends by bare compliments, but by giving them sensible tokens of your love.”

117. “The mind is the pilot of the soul.”

118. “Human nature will not easily find a better helper than eros.”

119. “Two things greater than all the things are—one is love and the other is war.”

120. “Is something good because the gods approve of it? Or do the gods approve of it because it is good?”

Which of These Socrates Quotes Inspired You to Get Onto the Path of Greatness?

In the years he’d lived in Athens, Socrates often questioned the authorities in order to expose wrong teachings and biased beliefs. In this way, he believed that the people of Athens will be able to get a view of the good life—a life lived with knowledge and virtue. Through his dialectical method, he raised moral questions about how the good life should be and helped people understand what was wrong with their ideals and views of the world.

Did these quotes from Socrates make you question your views in life too? Which one had the most impact on you? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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