In The Apology, by Plato, Socrates explains who he is and what kind of life he lived; he also identified himself with being wise and having a gift of wisdom. The title though is a bit misleading; it is not to be confused with “apologizing” or “being sorry” for one’s actions. It is, Socrates attempt to defend himself and his conduct–certainly not to apologize for it. Socrates used different images or ways to describe wisdom, and that came off as being ignorant. It made the people of Athens not like him because he came off as knowing more than they did.
His ignorance is what caused the trial and then he would later go on to court, and eventually be put to death. But before all the tragedy there were some views of wisdom that stuck out to me: wisdom as enlightenment, wisdom as caring for the soul, and wisdom as not knowing (Dr. Tilley). The first image of wisdom is it as enlightenment. Scholars define enlightenment as “the state of having knowledge or understanding” (Webster’s Dictionary). This portrays wisdom as getting out of a close-minded way of thinking and seeing things as “they really are.
” That’s what Socrates did; he saw ordinary things in a new truer way. This image of wisdom exemplified what it looks like to have “understanding. ” An example of Socrates viewing things differently would be when he was explaining that he considered it his duty to question the supposed “wise” men and to expose their false wisdom as ignorance. Socrates traveled all around Athens, to prove to the people that he was not ignorant, and that there were people wiser than him. He interviewed the poets, politicians and artisans.
Although the poets could write these brilliant literary works, they did not understand the meaning of them, which made Socrates was wiser than them. The politicians acted like they knew more, but that was proven to be false because in the end Socrates was wiser than them as well. The artisans, who were skilled in trade and were useful for making everyday necessitates were extremely talented and they also thought they knew just about everything else there was to know, which once again was proven false by the wiser one, Socrates.
In the end, Socrates explained himself and the reason why he was wiser than them. There was something different about him than the Poets, Politician and Artisans, and that was he did not think he knew all there is to know and by recognizing his lack of knowledge, Socrates deemed himself wiser than these other people. Wisdom as care for the soul, how a philosopher, i. e. , Socrates should care for his wisdom, how he should examine his life (Dr. Judith Rich). He tries to convey the point across that the unexamined life is barely a life, it is incomplete, and it’s missing a major component.
Thinking or wanting to acquire wisdom without actually doing it ignores a deep human need. The Poets, Politician and Artisans of course wanted and desired wisdom; they just did not know how to achieve it. They were not focused on it, and in a sense they thought they were self titled to it, and did not have to put in the effort. But Socrates proved that effort is required. A life that is focused on the desire for full wisdom and living life to the fullest is what caring for the soul looks like.
This particular image of wisdom stresses the practical part of being wise, being able to put your understanding into practice, to have it make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Lastly, wisdom without knowing, that sounds impossible. It’s easy to get confused with not knowing and acting like a person knows with being labeled ignorant. “…When I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know” (Plato, online version line 21).
This is a pure example of Socrates thinking differently, and letting that be driven by his ability to be wise in his actions. He speaks out about ignorance. He tells his people that there is so much more to learn and that its not necessarily to make people believe you know it all, therefore, in our search for wisdom (philosophy), we must be more committed to the process itself than to its results, because they are probably not going to be instant. In this case the best results failed Socrates because he was ultimately put to death, but it would not be right to say that his process, or quest, was a waste.
Living an examined life will bring happiness, and it will not necessarily mean gaining certain knowledge. Socrates is wise because he believes he is not wise, whereas the poets, politicians, and craftsmen arrogantly and falsely believe they that are. Socrates did not deserve to be executed because his ignorance, he was proving his wisdom in a way that was innocence. He didn’t understand how a person could be so high in society and so noble, but not contain wisdom. He defended himself, but people took that and blew it out of proportion.
Although his life ended in a tragic unjustly way, he made correct statements about how to live with knowledge and wisdom and they are still being used as a foundation for life and it should still be proven that in this case, wisdom and ignorance do not go hand in hand, but a person has to be careful to not let the title of “having wisdom” then in turn create an attitude of arrogance and ignorance. Works Cited The Apology; Plato Retrieved from: http://www. pagebypagebooks. com/Plato/Apology/APOLOGY_p1. html Dr. Rich, Judith (April 18 2012, 10:28 am) Retrieved from: http://www. huffingtonpost. com/dr-judith-rich/gps-soul_b_1432788. html.
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