Saturday, 28 September 2019

On Plato’s Apology

One who is aware of his own ignorance is a man of wisdom. We learn this from Socrates who, in Plato’s Apology, informs the Athenian jurors that the Oracle of Delphi has judged him to be the wisest because they realize that he knows that he doesn’t know. Being aware of one’s lack of knowledge is not the same as knowing nothing, because such awareness can only come when one knows what is there to know. The only thing that Socrates claims to have learned on the basis of his own experience is that an unexamined life is not worth living.

Here’s an excerpt from the statement that Socrates makes in front of the Athenian jurors (Plato: Complete Works; Edited by John M. Cooper and D. S. Hutchinson; Page 33)

“Perhaps someone might say: But Socrates, if you leave us will you not be able to live quietly, without talking? Now this is the most difficult point on which to convince some of you. If I say that it is impossible for me to keep quiet because that means disobeying the god, you will not believe 
me and will think I am being ironical. On the other hand, if I say that it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living for men, you will believe me even less.”

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