Deny Ignorance by Embracing That You Are Ignorant

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posted on Sep, 28 2010 @ 03:46 PM
Okay, that sounds silly. But let me explain.

I am taking a philosophy class right now at uni, and we're talking about Socrates. Socrates' main philosophy, if you aren't aware, is that the greatest wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.

It seems paradoxical - you know that you don't know - but it makes sense. What do we really know? Do we know what comes after death? Do we know that God exists? Do we know that aliens are here on Earth? Unless we've had some sort of divine/et intervention, I imagine most of us are speculating and then placing a belief in something. But then we go on to act as the authority of subjects when asked. People are so certain Indigo Children are real so they preach it to the world as if it were fact - when really, it is speculation. You don't really know. Same with death. People are afraid to die, but to Socrates, this makes little sense, because how do we know death is bad? Are we authorities on death? Have we experienced it enough to place a rational fear in it? No, not really.

In Plato's dialogue titled 'Euthyphro' (and for those of you who don't know the dialogues, they are dialogues Plato recorded of what Socrates said to other people), Socrates is talking to a Priest named Euthyphro. Euthyphro is prosecuting his own father for murder because Euthyphro considers it the pious thing to do. Socrates says to him, "Okay, if you're so smart, tell me what it means to be pious." Euthyphro can't actually come up with an answer. He just says, "I know what it is and that's what matters. My idea of pious is the right one." Socrates says, "If you can't actually explain what pious is, how do you know it's pious to prosecute your own father for murder?" Socrates continues to question Euthyphro, never making a statement of belief but merely questioning Euthyphro's, until it becomes clear Euthyphro has no real basis in what he believes other than the fact that he believes it.

The moral of Euthyphro is that we shouldn't consider ourselves the possessors of any kind of superior knowledge unless we are so certain in our own minds that we are right. You can pretend to be right all you want, but if a few little questions can make you privately question your own 'knowledge', then you know something is wrong, which is the position Euthyphro was in.

So to turn this into a philosophy that has a function on ATS, we simply need to take a step back. When we yell at people to deny ignorance, are we being Euthyphro? At the end of the dialogue, Euthyphro's convictions have wavered considerably. He doesn't believe he knows what pious even is anymore, and he gets so irritated with that that he and Socrates stop talking. Are we so certain of what we say here that if Socrates interrogated us, we would have no wavering of our knowledge and belief, even hidden? Sure, we all pretend to be confident with what we say. But on the inside is where we know that our convictions are shaky, and perhaps not true knowledge whatsoever.

I would hazard to say that there are many Euthyphros on ATS - people who flame and bite and say "I'm right you're wrong end of story." But without having the ability to examine our own knowledge, to say "You know, maybe I don't actually know everything about this subject, maybe I need to step back and see what others have to say before I make a decision" we lose the chance to really learn. It's not about being the smartest here, or the most intelligent, because in the end, none of us really know. We are on a conspiracy theory website because we can't be completely sure of anything we say. So, in the spirit of Socrates, maybe we could take a step back from our defense of 'I Know The Full Truth' and embrace that fact that none of us here really know and we need to be open-minded if we ever want to figure anything out.


P.S. I know this subject has been discussed on ATS before, but I figured I would put it in a philosophical perspective since I just got out of class and that's the mood I'm in, plus, I really wanted to get the idea of 'question yourself and question everything else' out because I don't feel like there is enough questioning on ATS. There is a lot of questioning, more than 'real life,' but also a lot of pure close-minded preaching here that doesn't help us on our search for truth.

posted on Sep, 28 2010 @ 04:07 PM
I do subscribe to that theory on some level. I mean I'm well aware that I am still learning. I think more than that, being arrogant and complacent is a very dangerous belief. It just sets you up for a bigger fall in the long run, and ultimately a big dent for the ego!

posted on Sep, 28 2010 @ 04:12 PM
I concur with this rationality as well.

I know nothing, I only know what I believe to be true.

Still a student, yet far from being a Master.

One can't help but wonder if the current state of affairs would be better off if more people laid aside their ego and really took to task a profound sense of humility within their decision making.

posted on Sep, 28 2010 @ 05:23 PM

Originally posted by 23_PAPERCLIPS

One can't help but wonder if the current state of affairs would be better off if more people laid aside their ego and really took to task a profound sense of humility within their decision making.

I totally agree, and think that most of the world's problems are rooted to a stubborn inability to see things from others' perspectives and to admit mistakes. No one has to always be right.

On a related side note, I think when we demonize those who were WRONG, we perpetuate this mentality that one always has to be right. For example, a while ago I misunderstood a thread, and posted something on it that was wrong. Someone literally attacked me, calling me an idiot and stupid and all these things, and I was like, "Woah dude, I see now where I was mistaken, but you're not making it so people will listen to you and learn from you - you make it so people think you're not credible and won't listen to a thing you say." So it is in these situations where I feel we must not demonize those who are wrong, nor glorify those who are 'right'.

posted on Sep, 28 2010 @ 05:30 PM
Ah yes, dear old Socrates truly was the first Troll slayer.
He had the advantage that the generations that he got to question
had been raised to value the oportunity to answer questions from an elder.

Not so true in this day and age but still an effective method.
Particularly when one is not sure if they are just having
a bad reaction to someone's comments or are
really being trolled. Better to ask.

David Grouchy

posted on Sep, 28 2010 @ 07:09 PM
reply to post by spacekc929

the greatest wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.

This idea keeps me grounded at times. In no way do I even try to pretend that I am an absolute authority on any subject or idea. However, at times my ego gives me a false sense of superiority over some people. Especially considering the majority of my peers can only hold conversation about pop culture (sports, music, movies, television, and celebrities).

This ageless idea from Socrates keeps me mindful of the unknown and uncertain. That is, when I remember to take these wise words into consideration. Still trying to control my ego and the impulse to judge.

posted on Sep, 28 2010 @ 07:53 PM

Originally posted by spacekc929
Okay, that sounds silly. But let me explain.

I am taking a philosophy class right now at uni, and we're talking about Socrates. Socrates' main philosophy, if you aren't aware, is that the greatest wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.

Good original post!

The knowing nothing bit can be extended even further in that It's not even certain that Socrates was ever a real person, although the evidence suggests that he probably was, but a lot of the time it is thought that Plato used Socrates as a character in his writings to put a mouth piece to his own views

Just something I thought you might be interested in The socratic problem

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 12:09 AM
reply to post by davespanners

Thanks! That is an interesting idea, although I tend to think he was probably real, but since pretty much all of what we know about him is what Plato wrote, it is hard to be sure.

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 12:10 AM
reply to post by davespanners

Thanks for the info davespanners. I never heard of such an argument before you posted the link. I'll consider this next time I read any of the classics ^_^

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 12:41 AM

I am taking a philosophy class right now at uni, and we're talking about Socrates. Socrates' main philosophy, if you aren't aware, is that the greatest wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.

There is a logical flaw (not withstanding Socrates and all).
That I do not know everything, it does not follow that I know nothing.
That I do not know everything and that things are possible which I may not be aware of, it does not follow that anything is possible.

edit on 9/29/2010 by Phage because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 01:43 AM
reply to post by Phage

Hello Phage

I agree with the logical conclusion that you have posted, from a literal point.

However, the way I like to view philosophy is to find the wisdom within the words. When I hear a philosophical advice or lesson, I like to ask myself, "What is significant about the idea? How and why can this information benefit a person?"

When asking myself those 2 questions in regards to the OP:

The greatest wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.

I take away the humble message that in the vast known and unknown of existence, a single human mind can hardly contain any significant amount of everything / infinity. It seems as though the more we learn, the more we find ourselves immersed in an expanding sea of unknowns, or we make discoveries that rewrite our preconceived notions. A person can not know everything about everything, not even close. Thus helping one to humble themselves and control a bit of their ego.

Of course, there is the possibility of your [Phage's] rebuttal. Perhaps the words are to be taken literally, or in some other context. xD

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 02:00 AM
reply to post by Sahabi

It is always helpful, intellectually and emotionally, to attempt to step away from oneself. It is really the only way to separate what one knows from what one believes. But taking Socratic argument to the extreme accomplishes no more than taking anything else to extremes.

There are many, many things we can know. The Sun will rise tomorrow. Yes, it can be argued that it may not... but it will.

There are many, many, more things that we don't know.

There are many, many, many still more things we will never know. And we can't do anything about that. So what? If nothing else, life is for learning. If we can learn nothing then there really is no point to anything. And if there is no point then Socrates is certainly not your man.

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 04:16 AM
"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."

That is usually what I have written in my signature. Of course, as Phage said, I might not know nothing, but I know next to nothing in the big picture, and what I do know is probably mostly wrong or founded on faulty reasoning. That's how I interpret those quotes and variations of them anyway.

EDIT: And reading Phage's last post, I agree with him that life is meant for learning, but the point of this philosophy is to understand just how little we actually know, and being able to accept our ignorance, instead of acting like we have the answers to everything, because I can tell you we are far from having the answers to a lot of things, particularly the most important questions we seek answers to.

One of the first threads I made on ATS dealt with this topic actually, I ramble on a bit but I still make some decent points: We know nothing - Expanding the mind with philosophy

edit on 29/9/10 by CHA0S because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 30 2010 @ 12:22 PM
While that is a bodacious line from Socrates (as Bill and Ted would say), my problem with that phrase is that there are some things we do know. I know how to tie my shoes, I know that 1 plus 1 is 2, I know directions, etc. I know a lot of things, so to say I know nothing is just false. However, on a metaphysical level, I know that I know absolutely nothing about the unknowable. More paradoxes, it would seem, but the point is not to know the highest form of knowledge through objective discernment but rather through self-realization.

posted on Sep, 30 2010 @ 12:30 PM
I think Donald Rumsfeld put it more eloquently then Socrates ever could

posted on Apr, 30 2011 @ 08:42 AM

"What kind of person am I? I'm happy to have a mistaken idea of mine proved wrong, and I'm happy to prove someone else's mistaken ideas wrong, I'm certainly not less happy if I'm proved wrong than if I've proved someone else wrong, because, as I see it, I've got the best of it: there's nothing worse than the state which I've been saved from, so that's better for me than saving someone else. You see, there's nothing worse for a person, in my opinion, that holding mistaken views about a matter we're discussing at the moment" (Gorgias 458a)6.

edit on 30-4-2011 by Digital_Reality because: found it!

posted on May, 1 2011 @ 12:17 PM
Deny Ignorance or Deny....Ignorance

OR, Ignorance Deny.

A closer look, to deny something is a reaction to an accusation, so basically, if we are already labelled as being ignorant, we must deny our ignorance by proving to the world that we are awake and aware of what is going on in our world, to cut through the fog of our daily schedules, our routines, the bombardment of the media, the emotional suppressants in our food and water, and the electromagnetic blanket that prevents us from seeing things that are on the "other side".

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