Sep 09 2010 - Aug 11 2013

Philosophy Paper On Socrates

What is wisdom, what does wisdom mean to us? Wisdom in Socrates sense is knowledge of life issues and meaning and understanding behind it. A poet is not wise for writing a beautiful poem, for he does not truly know the meaning of the poem when questioned, and although a craftsman may have knowledge about his craft, he does not have knowledge about life, such as what is justice, or holiness. These people have a sense of what justice is or holiness but they do not truly know it, but they will claim that this sense is more than it actually is to the point of absolute knowledge on the subject. Socrates knows he does not actually know what justice is, so when he hears people say they know what it is he assumes they are wiser than him and investigates, however all he finds are people who do not know themselves in that they are ignorant of their true ignorance. It is not that they are pretending to know things they do not know, they truly believe that they know these things, and then they refuse to admit the truth and continue to believe the lie that they know these things, which is not very wise at all, as part of wisdom is discerning the truth from lies. 1Socrates believed that wisdom was not knowledge in of itself, but that it was the knowledge of what one does not know, or rather the acknowledgement of what one does not know. He believed that the only true knowledge was divine knowledge, which only the god's may possess. Socrates believed that human knowledge was very limited and that true wisdom can never be obtained. He said there was a distinct difference between human wisdom and divine wisdom, and human wisdom can only go so far as to admit that in the grand scheme of things we know nothing; that what little we do know doesn't amount to much.

This is different from modern ways of thinking in that we believe the wise to be experienced, they might not have knowledge of skills per say, but they should have knowledge of life, and how to apply that knowledge. They are the ones that we would go to for advice should a problem arise, however in the Socratic version of wisdom, wise people can be very ignorant, and they do not necessarily have to have knowledge of life, but knowledge of what their limits are. That is not to say they would not give us advice, but their advice would be more to help us self realize the answers, well as of today a wise person will push us along certain courses that they know through experience to be the best path.

Socrates believed that wisdom and humility were linked, in that you had to have humility and admit your ignorance to be wise. He hated to see people who claimed to know everything of life, when it is impossible for a single person to know everything. He didn't say one had to be ignorant of life, but that you should know your limits thoroughly. All he saw were people that were thought of as wise, but they truly just had a huge ego, it seems that any knowledge one gains goes straight to one's head, therefore it is preferable to be ignorant but wise, than smart and foolish.

Another example is Socrates saying:

"To be afraid of death is only another form of thinking that one is wise when one is not; it is to think that one knows what one does not know."

By this he means that no one really know what happens to us when we die, and when we are afraid of death we assume it is something horrible, thus believing us to know more than we really do, for how can we know what death is truly like. He says that to be afraid of death is to be acting very unwise, as instead of acknowledging your ignorance in this subject, you believe things that you cannot know. He believes that to be afraid of the unknown is wrong, that we should embrace it. Therefore if we are not afraid of the unknown and are not assuming to know things we do not know about the afterlife, believing it to be worse than living, there would be no reason to fear death.

Although Socrates says it is good to acknowledge ignorance, he still wants us to question what one does not know. He wants us to try to become less ignorant; to know one's ignorance but to try not to learn would be considered foolish. He takes pride in his ignorance, but in the fact that he acknowledges it, not in the fact that it exists. He would not say people who know their own ignorance are wise, but those who know they are ignorant and strive to understand and learn are. If someone simply says, "I don't know anything, I can't know anything, why bother learning" that would not be wise, as we can learn, or strive to at least by leading a philosophic life, for philosophy is the love of wisdom, and one must surely love wisdom to be considered wise; for if someone doesn't love wisdom how could they be wise.

He has made it a habit to go around to the "wise" people of Athens to determine whether or not they truly are wise. He has managed to find every one of them lacking wisdom, for although they pretend to know many things, they in fact know quite little when examined by Socrates. He was called the wisest man of his time, although he hated the title therefore making him strive to find one person wiser than him. He is unable to find that person because he looks for people who boast that they are wise, and they certainly will not be wise. He is truly the wisest person, for he is the most self-aware person he has come across, he is the only one to truly know himself and his own ignorance. He believes the wisest of men are those who realize they are not really wise at all, it is all about awareness of one's self.

(1) Comments:

mmm - 2011-11-02 18:06:51:

well done this is really helpful

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