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This famous line is attributed to Socrates by Plato, his pupil, in the Apology, which Plato claims is a recollection of the trial of Socrates. In context, Socrates means that he is incapable of refraining from his unique brand of philosophy, one which stemmed from challenging basic precepts and long-held conventional wisdoms. He is being asked to come up with a sentence for himself after he has been found guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens. In a broader sense, the quote represents Socrates' commitment to philosophy in general and his dialectical method in particular. Through examining what we believe to be true, Socrates argues, we come to understand actual, universal truths. The quote has come to represent the importance of that quest for understanding, which Socrates saw as so important that he was willing to die rather than give up.
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