According to most scholars, the greatest contribution of ancient Greece to western thought is philosophy, the love of wisdom. Among the philosophers of ancient Greece, Socrates was the one named by the Oracle of Delphi as the “ wisest man in the world”. About a century before Socrates, the philosophers of Ionia, known also as pre-Socratics, had introduced the use of logical interpretations to explain the origins and the nature of the world around them, as opposed to the old approach that tried to explain the world in mythological terms or the supernatural.
Logos” was a term widely used in their philosophy. The greek word “ logos ”originally meant reason, word, account . The English word “logic ”derives from the word logos , as well as all the – logies in terms like biology, sociology, and psychology that incorporate the meaning of theory, study, rationalization of something. In the Greek language logos meant also speech , so it involves the act of speaking or setting forth an idea in a clear manner. “Logos” therefore designates a certain kind of logical analysis that places things in the context of reason and explains them with the pure force of thought. Based on this concept, Socrates placed his “dialogues” ( dia-logos). Such an intellectual exercise was supposed to lead to wisdom (sophia) and those who dedicated themselves to logos where thought of as lovers (philo) of wisdom, hence as philosophers.
It is well known that Socrates use to admit ironically that he “knew nothing” and as far as his teaching was concerned, he use to state that he knew all the questions but none of the answers. Thus, this great philosopher use to teach by asking questions, seeking to expose contradictions in his companions thoughts and gradually leading him to admit ignorance or conclude to the opposite idea from where he started in the first place. Almost all the Socratic dialogues end inconclusively, but they must do so. Socrates would not give his disciples the answer or the truth following his main principle that each one of us must find it out for himself. According to his beliefs, the eternal truths are within each one and the role of the philosopher is to help the person and lead him through questions as a “midwife” to give birth to knowledge and wisdom. Today the Socratic Method is applied in education today, mostly in legal classrooms, in order to create through dialogue and debate an interactive field that helps the students learn through the use of critical thinking, reasoning and logic, finding holes in their own theories and patching them up. And all these everlasting ideas…were born in our city, Athens!
The Ancient Agora of Athens, where Socrates use to stroll, teach and open the minds of his fellow citizens is a site open to the public thanks to the American School of Classical Studies that took the initiative of the first excavations in the beginning of the 20th century.
Located at the foot of the Acropolis, today one can walk at the same paths of the great Greek philosophers and enjoy an inspiring stroll between trees and ancient remains, among which is the best preserved Doric order temple of Greece, the temple dedicated to god Hephaestus. Furthermore, the Stoa of Attalus –the little museum of the Agora-treasures timeless finds related to the earliest democracy in the world that ironically condemned Socrates to drink the hemlock…