Where did Socrates say or did Aristotle quote Socrates saying:

Strong minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; weak minds discuss people.

"Strong minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; weak minds discuss people."

  • Sounds like the quote of an arrogant and rather foolish young man who thinks he knows better than everyone else. Socrates was older, wiser, and famously humble about his own knowledge. Sep 5 at 0:42
  • @DavidGudeman Yeah, it seems to be a misattributed quote.
    – Geremia
    Sep 5 at 0:44
  • 1
    Eleanor roosevelt is often attributed quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/18/great-minds/?amp=1
    – Rushi
    Sep 5 at 1:19
  • 1
    I recently read through the Complete Works of Plato (Socrates) along with a 100+ papers/essays on it. Neither Plato or Socrates said anything of this like (and definitely not this succinctly). The closest thing to this might be his five ranking of bodies of knowledge for good life: measure, proportion, nous and phronesis, bodies of knowledge and arts/expert skills and right opinion, and then pure pleasure However, Socrates/Plato would agree with at least the first line what with the notion of Platonic Forms, and such being the highest good.
    – Xeon
    Sep 5 at 4:52
  • Please use written sources like book, with a reasonable degree of reliability. Sep 5 at 10:23

1 Answer 1


Attributions to Socrates, Aristotle, etc. are too wide of the mark as even a cursory study of history of philosophy might suggest.

The Quote Investigator points out that the earliest adage that would come close to it is due to Henry T. Buckle as Charles Stewart cites in his 1901 autobiography:

Buckle said, in his dogmatic way: “Men and women range themselves into three classes or orders of intelligence; you can tell the lowest class by their habit of always talking about persons; the next by the fact that their habit is always to converse about things; the highest by their preference for the discussion of ideas.”

By this occasion, besides the Quote Investigator, I recommend Gerald Krieghofer's blog Zitatforschung to trace popular (mis)quotes.

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