Tag Archives: philosophy

Perspective and Not Knowing

socratesThe following is a paper I did for my Philosophy class in Junior College. I got an A on it and it is an interesting read. Enjoy!

During his trial, Socrates said, “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” This is somewhat of a circular statement that denies itself, for if you know that you know nothing, then you know something. If you know nothing, then you cannot know that you know nothing, for you know nothing.

Maybe the word “know” needs defining. The Random House College Dictionary says that “to know is to be aware of something as fact or truth.” To know is “to perceive or understand clearly and with certainty.” These definitions suggest that to know something is to be closed to a change or different perspective of what it is that is known.

Socrates also said that virtue is knowledge. But if one knows nothing, how can one have knowledge? Knowledge is, according to the Random House Dictionary, “the fact or state of knowing, clear and certain perceptions of fact or truth.” The key word to this definition, I feel, is “perceptions.” This word allows for change, for as one’s “perceptions” change — sod does “fact or truth.” Therefore one cannot _know_ something in a clear-cut, concrete way, as a mathematician knows a triangle will always have three sides, but one can perceive what is fact or truth for the moment and for oneself. Therefore, one can know that what one knows now may change, and that one doesn’t know it for certain, but just perceives it for now. An example would be Newton’s law that any two falling objects fall with the same speed, because gravity is equal. Physicists are now finding other forces than gravity which can make one object fall faster than another.

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