“I do not think that I know what I do not know.”

– Socrates


 

Three observations:

  1. This is profoundly liberating – freeing! No more pretending! No more worrying about what people think of my intelligence! That would be a wonderful stress-reducer.
  2. But how does he “know” WHICH things he does “not know” – things like commonly accepted facts, sayings, traditions, ideas, prejudices? It likely means he’s been paying some attention. He’s not just parroting the common ideas and sayings. He’s thinking a bit – making his convictions his own. That might take a little work.
  3. Unfortunately, this is also a bit scary. If you get real,
    a. people may no longer think you are as smart as you’ve been pretending.
    b. YOU may no longer think you are as smart as you’ve been pretending.

So what benefit is there to THAT?!?

Well, these that I can think of –

  • You can quit pretending.
  • When you do actually know something, or are quite sure about something, you can say so. You can live by it or proceed on that knowledge. You can speak up on behalf of reality.
    Example: If you come to believe (“Know” in practical life) that “it is better to give than to receive”, you can begin to figure out how to practice that.
    If you put in the effort to come to “know” something, turns out it’s a big deal. There’s a fair chance it will change your life.
  • It will begin to gain you a good reputation – as someone who tends to know what they are talking about. That’s kinda nice.
  • You will feel more confident and at ease about what you approve of, what you agree with, what you reject, where you stand, what you say. That also is kinda nice.

SO:

Socrates believed that it’s really a better way to live – give up the pretensions – spend the effort to pin down a few key things that you actually DO know – then GO with that.

I bet he was right.

“I do not think that I know what I do not know.”

– Socrates


 

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