14 Answers

  1. Before answering the question, let me clarify that we do not know the literal sound of Socrates ' dictum. Wording of the saying “I know I don't know anything” I've only met her in one book so far: V. S. Nersesyants. Socrates, 1977.

    Different books give different, but similar options:

    • (Plato. Apology of Socrates, 1875) “what I don't know, I don't expect to know.”;
    • (Marcus Tullius Cicero. Uchenie akademikov, 2004) “he only knows that he doesn't know anything.”;
    • (Apology of Socrates. Translated by S. A. Zhebelev) “what I don't know, I don't think I know.”

    I was reading a book Plato. Apology of Socrates, 1875. Apology (ἀπολογία) is translated from Greek as “to speak in defense” or”defensive speech”. Socrates defended himself in court, making a big speech. Here on the basis of the information I read, but in my presentation, I will answer the question.

    I refer to the source for two reasons:

    • By myself, I can't know what Socrates meant without reading a source close to him;
    • the answer to this question requires accuracy, not my subjective interpretation.

    Cherephon, one of Socrates ' closest friends, went to the sacred city of Delphi to see the oracle of Apollo and boldly asked the god the question: is there anyone wiser than Socrates? The Pythia replied that no one was wiser than he was. Socrates, learning of this, was perplexed. This was probably the only episode where he found himself in a logical dead end. Socrates pondered: 1) I do not recognize myself as wise – it is not clear what God means; 2) god is not supposed to lie – he speaks the truth.

    The meaning of his thoughts consisted in two paradoxical things:

    1) he questioned the superiority of his own wisdom over the wisdom of other people;

    2) he wanted to, but could not doubt the truth of God's words.

    In order to resolve the paradox, he began his research with a philosophical survey of citizens and foreigners. He wanted to know the wisest sage. He wanted to refute the oracle's prediction by saying, ” Behold, a man has been found who is wiser than Socrates.” Socrates conversed with statesmen, poets, artists, and artisans. And I found an interesting fact: each of them, having achieved knowledge and success in a particular field, was strengthened in the opinion that he was now wise in all things. While no one knew about the essence of things in the world: neither Socrates, nor other people.

    And yet, Socrates possessed the only knowledge that was not available to other people. He realized that he didn't know anything, and other people didn't know and didn't want to know, that they only thought they were wise. Socrates saw the limitations of his knowledge, showing cognitive modesty. And other people, because of their wounded pride, hated him for “exposing”him.

    Socrates stunned and stung others with his skeptical and ironic perception of human wisdom. People thought thatSocrates is well versed in what he incriminates others. However, Socrates realized that God is the most knowledgeable. God did not really mean Socrates, but only used his name as an example. God's divination meant that the wiser man is the one who, like Socrates, realizes that human wisdom is cheap or worthless. So Socrates solved a seemingly dead-end dilemma.

    So, what did Socrates mean by the phrase “I know I don't know anything” (short summary):

    1) There is human (limited) and divine (unlimited) wisdom.

    2) Man, the wisest of all after God, does not think that you know what you do not know.

    Socrates, in saying “I know that I know nothing,” meant that: 1) god is wiser than the wisest man and God does not lie; 2) the wisest of the wise man is aware of the insignificance or unreliability of personal knowledge about the essence of things.

  2. Usually, a person uses the amount of knowledge that they have. And he thinks he knows something. When you go on the path of knowledge, at some point it seems as if you have learned the truth, learned something important and feel superior.

    After a while, the euphoria from this passes and you realize that there is still a piece of knowledge that again gives you the feeling of the next stage. And it seems that this is a direct understanding-understanding. And then you look – and here is a gap, and here is a hole in knowledge.

    And the further you go, the more complex the requests and questions become. You're looking for answers. And every time you advance, you realize that you have grown to the ceiling!… But no! This was just another stage.

    And then at some point – you don't think , no – you feel that knowledge has no ceiling. And the more you know, the more you realize how little you know. It was as if all the walls and ceilings had collapsed and left an endless open space.

    When boundaries fall apart, you are no longer dependent on”knowledge.” You realize that what you knew yesterday, what you know today, and what you will know tomorrow are completely different knowledge. Something is refined, the view changes, the volume and depth appear.

    At the same time, the rigidity in understanding goes away and you do not hold on to specific knowledge. Thinking becomes more flexible and at any time you can allow yourself to express your thoughts freely, starting from the judgment, and not from what you have read or heard somewhere.

    For example, when I work with a client , I become a “blank slate”. I do not rely on my knowledge of how it is, but on what information the client gives me. And this is always a completely new discovery. No identical template.

    When I started working, I tried to predict in advance what the problem might be related to, what techniques and methods to apply. It was so logical to build up in my head, but in practice unexpected turns were revealed. Life is too cool a screenwriter to see all the connections and vicissitudes of fate.

    Then I realized that knowledge limits and prevents me from seeing what is really there. So I start the session in a state where I don't know anything – and I'm ready to watch and learn. This allows you to see the framework of what is happening for this particular person.

    Thank you for your question!

  3. There is not and cannot be a single opinion on this issue. Suffice it to say that each new interpretation of the phrase allowed us to create a new school of philosophy. For example, cynics believed that the point is that knowledge is impossible and unnecessary, while skeptics believed that it is only very difficult to achieve.

  4. I will say from my own point of view, because unfortunately we can't ask Socrates himself, but we can study his works and sayings that have come down to our days.

    To correctly interpret this phrase, you don't need to take it out of context, which means you need to find out where and how it was pronounced. If you believe the literary source “Encyclopedic dictionary of winged words and expressions: more than 4000 articles“, this was the testimony of his student Plato when he summed up his knowledge of the world.

    In the Apology of Socrates, one of Plato's earliest works, Socrates explained his idea as follows:” people usually assume that they know something, but it turns out that they do not know anything. So it turns out that, knowing that I don't know, I know more than everyone else.” Agree, it sounds strange, as a person who does not know anything, can know about what he does not know? But if we look from the position that knowledge precedes the statement of non-knowledge, then everything turns out to be logical. Only a person who already knows something in relation to full knowledge does not know. The more a person knows, the more they don't know. The more answers we get, the more questions we have.

    Let me give you a clear example: just one question “What is gravity?“giving the answer – “This fundamental interaction between material bodies that have mass ” raises a lot of new questions: what exactly is this interaction? What does it depend on? What is the reason for this interaction? Are there any exceptions to this rule? How does gravity work in quantum theory? Why isn't gravity quantized? If it doesn't work, then what is wrong: General Relativity or Quantum Theory? etc.

    The bottom line is that new answers give rise to new questions, here you can recall the quote of the famous playwright Bernard Shaw – “Science is always wrong. It will never solve the issue without putting in a dozen new ones.”. Thus, Socrates, realizing that by finding answers he finds even more unresolved questions, he never gets close to the truth. The ball of light expands and illuminates the land of answers, but the darkness surrounding it also increases, so it can never know everything. Not to mention the fact that the knowledge we now know may be false.

    For example: previously, people firmly believed in a flat earth, after which, using a scientific method in a” round-the-world trip“, people confirmed that the earth is round, time passes, and now again people question the already confirmed knowledge, thinking that this is a worldwide conspiracy and the earth is still flat. Or, for example, the Solipsism problem that has not yet been solved due to the inability to prove anything other than “Dubito ergo cogito, Cogito, ergo sum“, and the theory that we live in a matrix because of this problem is not completely refutable. The same problem exists with believing in God: we can't prove it, just as we can't completely refute it.

    You can list these problems for a long time, but they only confirm the correctness of Socrates ' statement. That is why he said that the awareness of ignorance makes a person more intelligent, compared to a person who thinks that he knows everything, although in reality this is not the case, otherwise he would easily solve all these unsolvable problems and new questions would no longer arise.

  5. He had the honor of adding, ” And I also know that others don't know that either.”


    it was in this direction that the rewriting of Socrates in all philosophical books went, everyone liked, FIRSTLY, that the famous sage does not know anything, that is, it is easy to become more famous than him, and the fact that, secondly, this is against us, contrary to our student pride and we ask you not to apply second roles to us.

    So I assume that no one knows for sure, even the documentary evidence is supposedly false – even during the Teacher's lifetime, Plato began recording some of his conversations. After reading one of these notes, Socrates exclaimed in comic horror:: “Gods! How much this young man has slapped on me!”

    In fact, Socrates was not a philosopher, but a philologist, but this is no longer a question

  6. This expression is quite interesting not only because it was once uttered by Socrates, but also in how it is understood. “I know,” I know. “that I don't know anything.” “But others don't know that either.” What don't they know? What Socrates doesn't know. I suggest another phrase, which I think is more understandable. “I know I don't understand anything. But others don't understand what they don't know.”

  7. Socrates wanted to understand how the universe works , he wanted to know everything in the world . But as soon as he got an answer to one question, he got another one, and so on. Modern agnostics put him as an example with his statements, but he did not know because he could not find out because of the time in which he lived. now the answer to any question can be found on the Internet . And if you don't find the answer, then look for it in the Qur'an !

  8. My opinion, as I think.
    Probably, when the mind has the ability to switch off in life, then it definitely can't know anything already..)
    And he turns off when he realizes that it is time for him to stop with his thoughts… it is not given to him to realize everything – such a device in us..

    It is impossible to comprehend what the Higher Mind has created.

    Once disconnected, it remains to feel – to take it on faith..
    And for a person to believe, it is given from Above in such a disconnected State – the highest Grace..

    This place in us where disconnection is controlled is in our brain – this is the limbic part of it.
    Outside – this is where the fontanel of the head is.

    When you pay attention to our spiritual energy there, which occurs during the so-called uplift of the spirit, our state relaxes, tension is relieved, as Joy fills the body, pouring into us as if from Above..
    (Drinkers also relax the limbic part of the brain, but without realizing that there is a Presence of God next to it… without their spiritual uplift… achieved by working on themselves)

    With normal practice, unselfish teachers – this type of meditation does not bring harm, since it is a natural process of ascent of a person to his divine beginning.

  9. The known is not the known. It is not enough to know the words and relate them to any images. It is necessary to know the essence of the objects and phenomena to which these words refer in order to better understand and use them correctly, even if at first glance the essence is clear. For example, if a person does not understand any field of knowledge, then he can be hung noodles on his ears, since he does not know the essence of the words used.

  10. I know that I don't know
    anything (as 3nat{b ; and} should),
    and others don't even know this about themselves,
    but they think they do…
    Expanding the circle of knowledge
    Expanding the border of the unknown
    And behind it, the limitless unidentified.

  11. Socrates said quite correctly. Golden words. Because no matter how much we study, acquire knowledge, or read smart books, there are always more questions than answers. And there are always people who don't even know that. But for some reason, such people always have an awareness of their own exclusivity and superiority.

  12. This is the traditional answer, but a skeptic would answer differently. Everything we know is not really knowledge in the full sense of the word, because even the small circle where we think we know something is subject to revision from time to time. Therefore, scientific knowledge is sometimes also called an analogue of faith.

    This is a philosophical answer to the question, and the scientific one is exactly what was voiced here. Socrates was a philosopher…

  13. It's not really a pun. Socrates, according to Plato, proved this very well himself. He drew a circle of small diameter and showed everything that was inside this circle that this is the amount of knowledge of one person. The boundaries of the circle touched the man's ignorance. Then he drew a circle of a different diameter, much larger than the first one, and showed that the boundaries of the second circle were much more in contact with the volume of ignorance. Thus, it turned out that the more a person knows, the more he understands that he does not know even more.

    This is obvious and requires no proof.

  14. This phrase implies that the more you know, the more questions arise. Accordingly, a person who knows a lot understands that there is so much unknown and interesting around.

    A person with a small outlook, on the contrary, believes that he knows everything, because his knowledge is not enough to ask more questions about the existing skills and abilities. He takes them for granted.

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