Socratic Wisdom Essay

1981 Words Oct 1st, 2014 8 Pages
Socratic Wisdom In the Apology, the oracle at Delphi stated that Socrates was the wisest man of his time (Plato 21a). Socrates, however, “[was] very conscious that [he was] not wise at all”, which would not make him the wisest man of his time (21b). Certainly, not both the oracle and Socrates could be simultaneously correct in their individual beliefs; thus, the oracle and Socrates must have had differing definitions of wisdom. What, then, is wisdom? Many people believe wisdom denotes having extensive knowledge about various things. A person often gains this knowledge through time and experience, hence why elderly people are viewed as wise. We shall refer to this form of wisdom as wisdom through knowledge alone. So too, many …show more content…
The self-knowledge view, however, would not be able to uphold Aristotle’s wisdom because a person who has incorrect knowledge would not be considered wise. That is, Aristotle would have believed he had knowledge that he did not actually have, and thus would not have been wise. Thus, the view of wisdom as self-knowledge must be incorrect.
Parallel to my analysis of wisdom through knowledge alone, I believe Socrates would agree with my analysis of wisdom as self-knowledge. In the Apology, Socrates examined the politicians, poets, and craftsmen. In each of his examinations, Socrates found that he was wiser than the examinee due to Socrates’ recognition of what he did not know, while the other examinees claimed to have knowledge beyond what they actually knew (22). One, then, might argue that Socrates believed that wisdom was this self-knowledge. This is not the case, however, because Socrates claimed that he merely had human wisdom, not divine wisdom. By this, I mean to say that Socrates’ self-knowledge was merely human wisdom and that, because of this, Socrates believed that there was a higher form of wisdom than merely self-knowledge (20d). Therefore, if self-knowledge is not the highest form of wisdom, Socrates must have believed that a truer form of wisdom exists. The highest form of wisdom, Socrates believed, consists of knowledge about what matters in life, why it matters, and how

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