Book to start studying ethics and Socrates especially


As far as I know Socrates is one of the first philosophers who started thinking about ethics and morals. So what book would you recommend me to read as a beginner in this topic. I recently read Early Greek Philosophy from Penguin publishing, maybe some similar book about Socrates and his views on ethics.

Hayk Safaryan

Posted 2017-11-30T19:04:56.927

Reputation: 121


You can see Gerasimos Santas, Socrates, Routledge (1979): Part III is dedicated to Socratic Ethics.

– Mauro ALLEGRANZA – 2017-12-01T07:09:22.667


But also concerning Socrates: Terence Irwin, Plato's Ethics, Oxford UP (1995).

– Mauro ALLEGRANZA – 2017-12-01T07:39:40.060

I should think you might sample some of the Chinese thought on the subject. If for no other reason than "parallax."

– puppetsock – 2020-03-03T15:11:51.657



The Republic is pretty entertaining as a read, but as a source it doesn't summarize anything, obviously. Too, reading translations without context and understanding of the original intent, etc. can lead you to 'incorrect' beliefs about the meanings of words, terms, phrases or sentences as a result. But it's entertaining and pretty foundational.


Posted 2017-11-30T19:04:56.927

Reputation: 113

1It's written by Plato, though, and therefore, not the best (but of course a) source to learn what Socrates thought. – Lukas – 2017-11-30T22:21:19.593

Fair enough :) we could get into the "who is Socrates?" here.. but I'm not sure it would add value in terms of the intent of trying to learn about 'Socratic Ethics' as it really would be difficult to distinguish between Socrates' beliefs and the beliefs that others attempt to ascribe to him – boethius – 2017-11-30T22:22:36.447

I think I agree with you. Only it seemed to me that the OP is really interested in the historical figure, since he references a book about early greek philosophy as opposed to platos dialogues – Lukas – 2017-11-30T22:35:16.313

1I'd upvote your comments if I could @Lukas :) – boethius – 2017-11-30T22:48:12.967

Hey thanks! I'll read the book and mark this as an answer. – Hayk Safaryan – 2017-12-01T06:36:25.957

1Appreciate the feedback - good luck in your journey. I went through a 'great books' program in undergrad that followed the course of western philosophy, as well as including Eastern samplings. Following the course of time can help choose "what's next" if you are looking to move on from a particular area :) I kinda stopped at the French Existentialists, personally – boethius – 2017-12-01T14:37:17.093


This is just to update and review the answers after three years. You might try:

C.C.W. Taylor, Socrates: A Very Short Introduction. ISBN 10: 0198835981 / ISBN 13: 9780198835981 Published by Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2019.

Peter Adamson, Classical Philosophy: A history of philosophy without any gaps, Volume 1. ISBN 10: 019876703X / ISBN 13: 9780198767039 Published by Oxford University Press, 2016.

Adamson gives a sound account of Socrates' thought, so far as it is known, and leads on to Plato and Aristotle.

An older book, not mentioned so far but well worth reading, is:

J. Ferguson, Socrates: A Source Book. ISBN 10: 0333117034 / ISBN 13: 9780333117033 Published by Macmillan, 1970.

Geoffrey Thomas

Posted 2017-11-30T19:04:56.927

Reputation: 34 276