Socrates the Wise

Michael Cross
Essay Topic #1
Argued one of the wisest men of all time, Socrates once proclaimed that “_I__ am not wise in anything, great or small_” (Apology_ pg. 427 cited in CP 53.) _Although highly misleading and contradictory to favoured belief, this statement depicts ignorance. In present society, one frowns upon ignorance, believing that those who are ignorant are weak and naive. This same mentality was portrayed in the likes of the Athenians during the Golden age of Greece (650BCE-322BCE). As their empire was gradually increasing, it seemed only right for one to believe that he is part of something large, wise and powerful. However, according to Socrates, these men who believed they knew vast amounts of knowledge actually knew meek mundane information yet were unable to accept what they did not know. This in itself is ignorance, pure and immeasurable. So, why is Socrates considered the wisest of all time when he admits to being the average ignorant individual? It’s simple, it’s because he admits himself to be naive. Just as the slave in Plato’s Meno eventually admits his ignorance, so does Socrates, which is what makes him truly wise. For Socrates thought that his wisdom in knowing was that he did not know, in other words, his wisdom is in his conscious ignorance. However, when comparing both the Meno   and the Apology, one finds contradiction within Socrates beliefs, ones which may eradicate the meaning of wisdom altogether.
While pleading for his life in the Apology Socrates explains why he questioned the knowledge of the citizens of Athens. He was searching for one who was wiser than he, subsequently this led him to ask those who were believed to be “masters” at one thing. What he found was astonishing, those who were trained in one area believed that they knew bountiful amounts of information in others; and when proved wrong, they turned the other cheek and refused to accept it. When conversing with a statesman, Socrates concluded...