What about being an outsider and/or living during a time of great turmoil and strife (as Socrates was an outcast who lived in Athens during said times) can inspire critical and philosophical thinking about one’s life and surroundings?
There are many important factors that could play pivotal roles in integrating life and the events that surround you. With cataclysmic events like widespread wars, plagues, financial crises, et al prevalent within all of humankind, the question of humanity and its fight for survival gives us a glimpse into our true innate workings and how we function at our most raw and pure state of mind.
As Socrates lived in war-torn Athens (with the plague following shortly thereafter), his views of his fellow Athenians and their simple-minded lives piqued his interest; his search for knowledge and wisdom growing abundantly with each passerby. The inner working of humans us still an embattled topic today, but Socrates (like many intellects of yesterday and today) wanted to know why humans act (reacted?) the way that they did (do).
Why are we as humans so inebriated with death and the bloody reality of the media? Why are children becoming more sexual active at such young ages? Why do humans exploit each other? What is the obsession with serial killers and female pedophiles? It is easy to pin blame on any given malady. The truth is, civilization constructed by its environment and the events that form and unfold.
Because Socrates was an outsider, it was easier for him to step back and look at the big picture unfolded right in front of him. His vision of humankind during turmoil and despair was not skewered by others and it was easier for him to accept what was happening and embrace reality.
I believe that being an outsider (as well as critical) of the disastrous events surrounding you is key to analyzing and interpreting true wisdom and knowledge. As an outsider, no one is there to rely on you and look to you for an answer. Its easier to appreciate life and appreciate the fact that under constant strife and bleakness, clarity and virtue stand amongst intellect and higher thinking.