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Socrates (; [Greek] : , Sōkrátēs ; c. 469 BC–399 BC) was a [Classical Greek] [philosopher] . Credited as one of the founders of [Western philosophy] , he is an enigmatic figure known only through the classical accounts of his students. [Plato] 's dialogues are the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity. Sarah Kofman, Socrates: Fictions of a Philosopher (1998) ISBN 0-8014-3551-X

Through his portrayal in [Plato] 's dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of [ethics] , and it is this Platonic Socrates who also lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the [Socratic method] , or elenchus . The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of [pedagogy] in which a series of questions are asked not only to draw individual answers, but to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. It is Plato's Socrates that also made important and lasting contributions to the fields of [epistemology] and [logic] , and the influence of his ideas and approach remains strong in providing a foundation for much western philosophy that followed.

As one recent commentator has put it, Plato, the idealist, offers "an idol, a master figure, for philosophy. A Saint, a prophet of the 'Sun-God', a teacher condemned for his teachings as a heretic."Martin Cohen, Philosophical Tales (2008) ISBN 1405140372 Yet, the 'real' Socrates, like many of the other Ancient philosophers, remains at best enigmatic and at worst unknown.

The Socratic problem

Forming an accurate picture of the historical Socrates and his philosophical viewpoints is problematic at best. This issue is known as the [Socratic problem] .

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