Socratic Paradox In Plato's Apology

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In the Apology, by Plato, Socrates makes two particular claims about himself. The first is that he does not know anything and the second is that he is wiser than every man in Athens. While these two claims may seem contradicting to one another because of our traditional conviction of relating wisdom to knowledge, Socrates refutes this correlation with his Socratic Paradox; which instead correlates knowledge with virtue and ignorance with evil. We learn about Socrates’ notion of wisdom through his use of moral virtue when he defends himself in court against the wrongdoings he has been accused of. Therefore, Socrates concludes that in order for a person to be wise, one must possess a very important ethical value and that is moral virtue.

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Socrates was on a mission to identify the true meaning of being wise. He questioned politicians, artists, poets, and craftsmen. Although they may have been successful in their field, they thought themselves “very wise in other most important pursuits, and this error of theirs overshadowed the wisdom they had,”(22d). Socrates concluded that these people were not wise as they had claimed to be because they could not acknowledge their ignorance. They thought they knew what they did not know. Unlike them, Socrates could acknowledge his ignorance and “was conscious of knowing practically nothing,” (22d). This is what gave him an advantage of being wiser than everyone else. In the matter of his defence, these encounters are what encouraged people’s hatred towards him because people thought they were being challenged and interrogated by Socrates, failing to understand his sense of virtue as a philosopher in examining both himself and others. However, in “The Paradox of Socratic Ignorance in Plato’s Apology,” the authors point out that Socrates believes his conviction to be absolute because “he {was} certain that philosophizing with

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