In philosophy, there are different principles and philosophers that are studied. In this specific course and time, one has covered and somewhat focused on Socrates and his method for pursuing wisdom. With the readings provided, one is able to conclude that, based off of what Socrates has said, wisdom is one’s understanding of the limit of their knowledge and that pursing wisdom is continuously questioning what is around and even one’s own understanding. One is also able to conclude that without pursuing wisdom and examining the life one lives, one cannot live a meaningful life. In this essay, one will be explaining the Socratic method of pursuing wisdom, what Socrates meant by wisdom, and how the pursuit of wisdom relates to a meaningful life.
Before one delves into the Socratic method for pursuing wisdom and how it relates to a meaningful life, one has to understand what Socrates meant by wisdom. Based off of what was read and interpreted in Plato’s The Apology, wisdom is viewed in as humility. This touches on the point aforementioned that wisdom is one’s understanding of the limit of their knowledge and one’s understanding of their own ability to obtain that knowledge by their own means. One is able to see how that the wisdom Socrates spoke of was also related to how one acted corresponding to the limits that one already understands one has. In The Apology, Socrates’ friend Chaerephon had approached and asked the Delphic Oracle who was wiser than he, and the Oracle responded that Socrates was the wisest human. Socrates took this answer with a grain of salt as his belief was that he was very much aware that he did not know anything. This portion of text very much relates to why Socrates was so wise and why his pursuit of wisdom was so important.
From what was previously written, through what was read in the provided texts, and with a basic understanding of who Socrates was, one is able to develop an understanding on the Socratic pursuit of wisdom. Socrates understood that he did not know anything worthwhile and knew much less than those in the community that, in his opinion, knew much more and were much wiser. What sets Socrates apart and what sets the basis of his pursuit is exactly that, he continuously pursues it with the mindset that he does not know. Socrates has not established himself as the wisest or taken others’ opinions of him to establish himself as the most wise. Socrates believed we was one of the least knowledgeable and went to those wiser than him for wisdom and knowledge. This is evident in The Apology as taking what the Oracle has said with a grain of salt, Socrates ventured out to investigate politicians, poets, and craftsmen. Socrates did not claim to know as much as these men claimed to have known, but he was much wiser than these men as these men claimed to know much more than what they actually did. Again, Socrates was constantly pursuing wisdom to learn about things he had no problem saying he did not know.
Through Socrates’ pursuit of wisdom, one was able to see how this pursuit sets the stage for a meaningful life. In The Apology, Socrates has said that “the unexamined life is not worth living for men” (Plato 41). There is no real happiness or purpose in life if one lives it in a manner that one is able to live day to day without the pursuit of what makes one’s life have meaning. One does not have to pursue things that satisfy the body, but one has to be in pursuit of things that satisfy the mind and the soul. One has to be in pursuit of why. With this, one is able to argue that even though Socrates was put on trial and then sentenced to death, he did live a meaningful life. He did not have the internal conflict of having to deal with not knowing what he claimed he did know, as he claimed he did not know. This inner peace Socrates had established in his own being even allowed him to not be affected by external conditions such as the trial and even death sentence.
As in any argument, or explanation, one has to be open to opposition. In this essay, even though a belief based off of what was written in the text had been established, there are other views and those views must be given the time of day. In the readings provided, one is also able to argue that although Socrates may have pointed out that the politicians, poets, and craftsmen were not wise, they could have been—as well as others may be. One’s wisdom can be measured by how well one is able to live their life in terms of luxury and comfort. The people who Socrates investigated may have very well been wise as in their fields they were successful. They were able to take the portions of knowledge they did have in their respective fields and apply it to their lives in such a way that they were able to reach the level of success they were at. In can also be argued that opposed to Socrates’ beliefs that although these people were not humble in their pursuit, they are taking a different approach to a pursuing wisdom and a meaningful life. These people were in the pursuit of means to take the knowledge that they already have and convert it into a successful career and continuously find ways to find success from it. These people may have been content with the little that they knew, but they may have been wise as the approach they took to applying that knowledge led them to be able to live the successful lives they had. These people were happy with the life they lived as they were able to cover up the internal conflict Socrates described with external success and they felt as though there was no conflict.
After reading the texts provided, the reader is able to understand that wisdom is one’s understanding of the limit of their knowledge and that pursing wisdom is continuously questioning what is around and even one’s own understanding. One is also able to conclude that without pursuing wisdom and examining the life one lives, one cannot live a meaningful life. Socrates’ own life was a clear example of the aforementioned statements as it was clearly shown in The Apology that even though he was put on trial and sentenced to death, he had lived a meaningful life as we has humble in his pursuit of wisdom and constantly looked for new sources and ways to satisfy his mind and soul. With his humility, he did not face the internal conflict many self-proclaimed wise men faced and was able to live and die a happy man. Although there are opposing views, one is able to see past them with the deeper understanding one obtained from the essay and the texts provided. Although one was able to understand Socrates’ meaning of wisdom, his pursuit, and the meaning of a fulfilled life, one is still not able to understand why there was so much opposition to the knowledge Socrates had provided. Although the margin of jurymen who had sentenced Socrates to death was lower than what he expected, one still wonders why there was such a large majority or even any at all to oppose him and his wisdom.