Socrates Cafe, a book written by Christopher Phillips that unfolds his story on facilitating lots of free discussion forum in a lot of different places. But what is Socrates Cafe itself? It is a place; a place for people who wonder, a place for people with different backgrounds to immerse their own self into questions and ideas and dogmas through Socratic Method. Phillips made an effort to revive the condition of what Socrates more than two millennia ago did in Athens.
He went through a lot of hard time in order to establish this and to start this out of nothing, which includes abandoning his occupation as a journalist. In this essay I would like to peel in a deep more into one section of the book in which Philips cited Richard Tarnas belief. According to Richard Tarnas, Socrates believed that “the discovery of ignorance was just the beginning of the philosophical task”, not the end (201) . People believe that being ignorant is a bad thing, as a human being we have to be conscious of everything we do and take responsibilities of our actions.
How can we know that we are being ignorant? To discover about our own ignorance to certain things is a stepping-stone for us to improve ourselves, that’s what Socrates believed and I do agree with him. After we are conscious about our own ignorance, we can start to inquire our own self and dig deeper to overcome our assumption about what it takes to be a human being – that’s what philosophical task is about for me. Over the last 10 decades, the Earth average surface temperature has rose by 0. 8 ± 0. 2 ? C, especially over the last 5 decades, the rise had been significant .
This kind of improvement tends to create serious problem, globally, not only in particular place. What caused this global warming to happen? The answer is the inhabitants itself, humans had been more and more ignorant about what crisis they face, we know about the fact of this but we choose to ignore it. We don’t accept the fact that we are being ignorant and we believe that we are not. The dominant mechanism of this issue is anthropogenic and mostly the result of human activities. Human increases the atmospheric concentrations of human gases through their industrial wastes. More than hat, we made a global change to the land surface such as deforestation, in order to make more fields for construction. We are being ignorant about what’s happening and continue to fulfill our needs, we are being greedy. So, what can we do in order to overcome this problem? The answer is to discover what we are being ignorant at, just as what Socrates believe as the start of philosophical task. By accepting the fact that we are so ignorant about our current condition we can start to make a move to overcome this condition that potentially will be the root of serious problem and make our way towards a better future.
For me, the biggest obstacle for this is to overcome our tendency to pursue our goal without thinking about the risks, we tend to think laconically, not being able to imagine about the cause of our action and the impact to our surroundings. We were blinded by the prospect of our goals and its profit and when the problem rises we hide our hands, it’s an ill wind for me to see such an occasion. We ensconce under our own thought that we are doing the right thing whereas in fact we aren’t. In one way, we tried to establish something that contributes to the society but we are also down falling it.
It will be better if we can do something while we are not damaging our environment before it’s too late. There’s no time like the present. I think it’s even worse when people aren’t ignorant of certain things and yet still act with ignorance,” John finally offers, “For instance, when a racist continues to be a racist, yet is aware of the reasons why he’s a racist – perhaps he’s even aware that his racism is illogical because he knows damn well that all of us are 99. 9 percent genetically identical – then that’s even more scary than when people are racist out of sheer ignorance. (204)  I have a many more examples about the impact of feigning ignorance and how scary it is. In my home country, there are still a lot of people living in urban slums. The government notices about this but they are not taking any action, because they think they wouldn’t be able to fix this because it’s too severe and widely spread. In my city, over one-fourth of the total citizen live in slums  and that’s not a number we can ignore. We really can’t ignore this kind of thing and the government really needs to take actions, instead of being ignorant.
Through philosophical inquiry they can get the answers to this problem, and that’s why they need to discover and admit their ignorance before they can start the long journey to fix this. One of the biggest factor and something that has never been able to be resolved from time to time is the corruption in Indonesia. The percentage of corruption in the government reach a peak number of 91%  and that’s way too high compared to another countries. I can’t believe that we are still holding on with the 10% leftover from what’s not corrupted to manage the country.
Just imagine if the government can eradicate the corruption culture, we would have 10 times of what we have now for our country formation and it would be amazing because we can solve a lot of problems from that. It’s a bigger ignorance if we close our eyes to this. And yes, the government had already established a corruption eradication commission, but they aren’t fruitful and the problem is still there. I think there’s corruption in the commission itself because they are not doing their job well and that makes it a corruption inside a corruption eradication commission, that’s way too ridiculous for me and it’s so hard to accept it.
We’ll need a leader that can lead the country to the right path in his honesty and his desire to remove corruption in our country, the one that can reveal how chronic the level of ignorance in the government is. In fact, before I even have a chance to respond, a woman whose booming voice belies her diminutive stature, says “I don’t think we have a right to be ignorant. I think we have a responsibility to constantly educate ourselves, to make ourselves less ignorant. (201)  Quoting it from Socrates Cafe, I wouldn’t agree with her statement about we are not having the right to be ignorant since we actually do.
As a human, we have freedom to do whatever we want to do – it’s our own life. What matters is the consequences of our actions, if you choose not to constantly educate yourselves and responsibly develop your talents then you have to shoulder the risks by yourself. You will be getting more and more outdated and you won’t be able to compete with those people who responsibly develop their talents. Socrates was fully aware of his own self – there’s one of his paradox that strikes me, “I only know that I know nothing”. He never claimed that he’s wise, he knew that there will always be spaces to improve as long as you breathe. Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance”, according to Will Durant Quoted from his Book: The Great Gadfly”, Time magazine, 8 October 1965 (review of The Age of Voltaire by Will and Ariel Durant).
There’s no end to our education, we will progressively and continually discover new things over time if we are doing it in a right way. Through ignorance we evolve – we thrive and mature through ignorance. The more we realize that we are lacking in lots of aspects, the more we will be able to see the potential in us. Look. And think. Then look some more. And think some more. Don’t ever stop looking, or thinking” (206) . We have to see the world in many perspectives, and be conceptual – there’s no way that we can learn about something in one go. Doing so will mislead us to misconception and prevent us to think creatively, our creativity will be restricted by our own belief – instead, we have to dive deep into it and broaden our knowledge about it by doing some research so that we can analyze and understand more complicated and abstract ideas.
That is one of the reason on why we have to be conscious about our own ignorance and start our own Socratic Inquiry, to be a better person – and to get a better understanding about what it takes to be an entity that will never stop to learn and to grow exponentially. Discover your own ignorance and make it a foundation on building your blocks of life – always think about what changes can you bring to your own life and what do you have to do in order to achieve that – then start your progress enthusiastically so that when death draws near you will know that you are living your life to the fullest and have no regret.
Courtney from Study Moose
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