Socrates Plato Aristotle | World History | Khan Academy


– [Instructor] Ancient Greece was not even a cohesive empire. It was made up of many city states, led by Athens and Sparta. But, despite its fragmentation,
it’s made innumerable contributions to, not
just Western civilization, but civilization as a whole. And those are contributions in terms of forms of governance, like democracy, contributions in medicine,
contributions in the arts, in mathematics, in the sciences. But perhaps their most famous contribution is in terms of philosophy. And if we’re going to
talk about philosophy in ancient Greece, the most
famous three philosophers are Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now, before we get into the first of them, and really the teacher of Plato, who was then the teacher of Aristotle, let’s get a little bit of
context on this time period. So, as we enter into
the fifth century BCE, a couple of things are emerging. First, you have a new Athenian democracy. Then, as you get into that
century, the Persians invade, try to conquer Greece several
times, but unsuccessfully. But then, the Greeks start
fighting amongst themselves, led on one side by Athens,
on the other side by Sparta, and that’s the Peloponnesian
War, which ends with Sparta being victorious, but
all of the Greek city states being weakened dramatically. Now, between the end,
especially the first part of the Greco-Persian
Wars, and the end of the Peloponnesian War, it
was actually a time of Athenian prosperity. They were leading this semi-empire, they were investing in the arts, and it’s often called
the Golden Age of Athens, and that’s the world in
which Socrates emerged. Like many philosophers,
Socrates led a very interesting life, and it’s worth noting what we know about him
does not come directly from his writing. We don’t have surviving
accounts of his writing. It comes mainly through the
writing of his students, Xenophon, and, most notably, Plato. We also get some parody of
Socrates from Aristophanes, that Socrates himself
did not appreciate much. But what we know is
that he started in life, he was a stone mason, he even acted as a soldier, a hoplite, during the Peloponnesian War. But he is, of course, most
famous for being a philosopher and for being a teacher. And his teaching style,
the Socratic method, is still viewed as something
of a best practice today. Rather than lecturing
students, to, instead, ask incisive questions that
force a student to deepen their thinking and get closer
to the root of an issue, and to learn how to think
rather than just having knowledge transmitted to them. Now, what’s also notable about Socrates and his many students,
including Plato and Aristotle, is that they took a departure
of how to think about the world from most of the ancient world. Most of the ancient world
was focused on the gods and the metaphysical
explaining everything. And, while the ancient Greeks
did have a large pantheon of gods, Socrates and
his fellow philosophers tried to figure out how the world works, why we are here, somewhat
independent of the gods. They tried to reason it through, they tried to talk it
through, think about it from a rational point of view. And to get a flavor of
that, here is a quote. “True wisdom comes to
each of us when we realize “how little we understand
about life, ourselves, “and the world around us.” So, unlike many ancient
societies that just tried to explain everything
through the metaphysical or through the gods, here
you have Socrates saying, no, an ideal true wisdom is when you appreciate how little we know, this form of intellectual humility. Now, Socrates lived during
this Golden Age of Athens, a time when democracy was
flourishing, the Age of Pericles. But he himself was a little bit skeptical of unfettered or pure democracy. He was worried, well,
what if the people voting aren’t educated to make
the types of decisions? Maybe they can be
manipulated by a demagogue, someone who just tells ’em
exactly what they want to hear. And so he was a bit of
a controversial figure, especially as you get to the
end of the Peloponnesian War. Remember, Athens loses
the Peloponnesian War. It went from being this powerful
head of this Delian League, something of an empire, this wealthy city, and now it’s a subjugated
state, it’s tired from war. And so you can imagine there’s a lot of political infighting, and
Socrates ends up being one of the casualties. He is actually put on trial
by his fellow Athenians. This is a depiction of
the trial of Socrates, and it shows Socrates defending himself from the accusations brought against him. Refusing to recognize the gods
acknowledged by the state, importing strange divinities of his own, corrupting the young. And his defense, which both
Xenophon and Plato write about, called The Apology, he’s
bewildered, he says, where is all of this coming from? Now, it is true, he
did not invoke the gods when he’s trying to explain the universe. And, yes, he was trying to
teach the young to think. But by no means, if you
look at what he was doing, or at least our modern
accounts coming through Plato and Xenophon, does it
seem like he was trying to undermine the state in some way. But, needless to say, it comes to a vote, and maybe he’s a victim of his own fears of a pure democratic process, but, amongst the 500 Athenians voting, 280 say that he is guilty, and 220 say that he is not guilty. He is given a chance to think about what his penalty should be. And the charges, at least
in the Athenian’s minds, were quite serious. But Socrates famously says, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” And so, even though many
historians think that he might have been able to
get exile if he asked for it, he was sentenced to death. And this is a painting
done much, much later of what that death of Socrates
might have looked like. But you see here Socrates about
to, or maybe he just drank the hemlock, which is the
poison which will kill him. So, even though he had to
die for these pretty spurious allegations, his legacy lives on, and it lives on most famously
in his student Plato. Now, Plato is famous for many things. There’s this notion of a
Platonic ideal form that, whether you’re talking about a circle, or a ball, or a dog, or a chair, that there’s an ideal
form that is independent of what your senses are telling you, or what the chair in
front of you might be, that that’s an imperfect
version of that ideal form. The word Platonic, in
general, you’ll hear applied to many different concepts,
some of the meanings having changed over time. The other thing that Plato is famous for is the notion of an academy. The place where he taught his students was a little field outside
the walls of Athens, named for the Athenian hero Akademos, and so that area became
known as Plato’s Academy. And ever since then, places
of learning have often been referred to as academies,
just like Khan Academy. But Plato was also concerned,
like his teacher Socrates, with the nature of how we should be ruled. “There will be no end to
the troubles of states, “or indeed of humanity
itself, till philosophers “become rulers in this
world, or till those “we now call kings and
rulers really and truly “become philosophers, and
political power and philosophy “thus come into the same hands.” So, like Socrates, he’s weary of how they have been governed. And, remember, we’re now after the period of the Peloponnesian War. The city states of
Greece, especially Athens, have been dramatically
weakened, so a lot of people might be thinking, including Plato, is there a better way to govern ourselves? Now, Plato’s most famous
student is Aristotle. And, like his teacher, Aristotle
is famous for many things and explored many
dimensions of the universe. But he is probably most
famous for being the tutor of Alexander the Great when
Alexander the Great was young. Phillip of Macedon,
Alexander the Great’s father, as he conquers the weakened city states after the Peloponnesian War, he also conquers Aristotle’s
home town of Stagira, and he enslaves the population. And so, when he goes to
Aristotle to tutor his young son, who ends up being called
Alexander the Great eventually, Aristotle says, okay, my fee will be free the people of my town. His town is freed, he
tutors a young Alexander, when Alexander is in his early teens, and he also gets support
for a center of learning. He creates a Lyceum,
which is his version of Plato’s Academy. And, just like you saw with
Socrates and you see with Plato, Aristotle continued this
tradition of a focus on learning and a humble acceptance
of all that there might be in the world, this
rationality that we now see in modern science, that you didn’t see from a lot of the ancients, who were focused on the
metaphysics and the gods. “It is the mark of an educated mind “to be able to entertain a
thought without accepting it.” And I’ll leave you there,
but the big takeaway is, going from Socrates,
to Plato, to Aristotle, and there were many
other Greek philosophers, you have the seed of what you
could call modern rationality. Roughly 2,000 years later, you
have the European Renaissance that starts reemerging
many of these same ideas, all the way providing a
bridge into the Enlightenment, and now our modern, hopefully
fairly rational view of the world.

41 thoughts on “Socrates Plato Aristotle | World History | Khan Academy

  1. When you spoke about Socrates' fears of true democracy I imagined our current situation in American politics!

  2. "Places of learning have become known as academies – just like Khan academy"
    We have come full circle

  3. Could you make a video explaining the Cathode Ray Tube and how it works?

  4. "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

    I love that quote, almost forgot about it.

  5. When Socrates was told to choose his own punishment he said he wanted lifelong free meals because he argued that he was a gift for the athenians. His choice was unsurprisingly rejected and shortly after that a fine was proposed (just 100 drachmae, stressing out how poor philosophers are). His students wanted initially to pay a larger fine fine but it got rejected and Socrates accepted to drink the poison.

  6. Hey, Khan, do you know that you are in the Russian textbook? Text about you in "Starlight" on page 90. The textbook 📚 of the 8th form.

  7. Plato must be rolling in his grave at the state of American politics. Shambles

  8. Greece philosophy is popular but none the less it was stolen and plagiarised from the Ancient Egyptians, on top of that Aristotle was a child molester and enslaver.

  9. It's not that none of the Socrates writings survived, he did not write anything in the first place. In fact, he believed writing books was wrong because it makes people not practice their memory and thinking capability in general and also because he thought knowledge is always better gained through dialogue. Plato did write book, but he still only wrote dialogues (staring Socrates) out of respect for his teacher.

  10. Please can you do a couple videos on mechanical engineering it's a field I'm very interested in as a career but I'm not to sure and I can't find any good videos about it thanks in advance 🙂

  11. bear in mind that, while Aristotle may have been a student at Plato's academy, he was exactly the opposite of him in terms of philosophy, to such the extent that, despite being a prodegy and the very best srudent, he was refused Plato's position after his death because he didn't believe in his "forms".

    While the academy spent all it's time constructing geometric proofs on what an ideal chair would be, the Lyceum would actually look at, and document particular qualities of good chairs.

  12. This doesn't get to the essence of what differentiated these philosophers from one-another.

  13. sorry Khan Academy, from my childhood I heard and learnt the same about these 3 philosophers, their time, pupils and Alexander, but I am looking for what is their view about life, philosophy.

  14. Mr. Khan you emphasised aristotle quote"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." as seeding for modern rationalism.

    but as an indian you should also should of mentioned

    that Thiruvallur In "Thirukural " said "epporul yaar yaar vai ketpin aporul mei porul kanpadhu arivu" meaning whatever may be the source of any information,knowledge is to extract and assimilate truth in it"

  15. The reference to demagogue and uneducated public is the situation today. Look what people did on Nov 8, 2016 in the USA!!

  16. curious how aristotle is considered "rational" thinker in philosophy. Whereas in college physics the class openly laugh at Aristotle and his "armchair" approach to understanding the world. Most famous is his idea of why a thrown stone continues to move after it has left the hand. He hypothesised the air gets pushed away and moves in behind the object and somehow this swirling air must continue to impel the stone. Like most ancients Aristotle took for granted a kind of absolute state of rest associated with the earth. Unfortunately Aristotle didnt bother to test his idea practically . Also there is a logic failure on various levels. For example in thin air the stone would not get impelled and thus in thick air or water the stone should get more fluid impulsion contrary to everyday experience of difficulty of throwing a stone through water. Also when one rushes through the air one feels the air trying to resist the motion rather than encouraging it. The aristotle physics fails on so many levels. Amazing how long it took until Galileo and so on began to think things through clearly. Does not the horrendous fails of the greeks in physics also throw into question all their other areas of philosophy?

  17. "Prawdziwa wiedza przychodzi do nas, kiedy zdajemy sobie sprawę, jak niewiele wiemy o życiu, o nas samych i otaczającym nas świecie."

  18. How can anyone dislike this lecture? It is a very succinct introduction to three of the greatest thinkers to have ever lived.

  19. You've misattributed to Aristotle, the quote: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." The quote has merit, but Aristotle never said anything like this. If you look up the nearest thing to this quote in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, book one (1094b23-25), you will see that the actual quote is (loosely translated) "It is the mark of an educated mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits and not to seek exactness where only an approximation is possible."

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