Philosophy - Admission of Ignorance Essay

1553 Words Apr 22nd, 2011 7 Pages
“The Admission of Ignorance as the Starting Point of Philosophy”

Philosophy 101
July 1, 2010

Plato’s story of the “Apology” professes to be a record of the actual speech that Socrates delivered in his own defense during his trial and conviction before a jury of 501 men in Athens. Socrates was charged with corrupting the youth of Athens and introducing strange gods to the city.

Socrates addresses the men of Athens as follows: “Do not create a disturbance, gentleman, even if you think I am boasting, for the story I shall tell does not originate with me, but I will refer you to a trustworthy source. I shall call upon the god of Delphi as witness to the existence and nature of my wisdom, if it be such. You know Chaerephon; he was
…show more content…
The proper starting point of philosophy is the admission of ignorance. Philosophy is an attitude of inquiry, and the attitude is that we should not claim to know something until we actually do know it. There is no reason to set out on a search for knowledge if you already possess that knowledge. So you must first come to a place where you are willing to admit that you do not possess that knowledge. Then you can begin philosophy. So Socrates’ quest, once he figures out the riddle of the oracle, is to go around Athens to those that claim to have wisdom and knowledge, but do not, and convince them that they in fact do not possess knowledge. This will put them in a position to begin to know.
Though many Athenians take Socrates to be an expert in the fields in which he questions others, Socrates denies any expertise, and interprets the oracle as saying that the wisest of men are men like Socrates who humbly accept that their wisdom is deficient. He feels it is his duty to the God of the oracle to continue questioning men who think they are wise in order to show them that they are not. In this way, Socrates sees himself as beneficial to the city of Athens, since, for example, a city whose politicians know what justice is will be better than a city whose politicians do not know what justice is.

Socrates' account of his conversations with the supposed wise men of Athens provides us with a valuable account of

Related Documents