Socrates, A Personal Role Model

I’ve been listening to the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps podcast, and arrived at Socrates. Hearing about Socrates and Plato’s dialogues reminded me of reading those same dialogues when I was younger. In particular, reading Plato’s Apology made a large impression on me. The idea of knowing that one knows nothing had an appeal, especially as a child who felt that the world was vast and largely unknown. When I grew a bit older, I felt that it’s possible to have a systematic structure to everything one wants to know. But now, I’ve returned to original position of Socratic ignorance, albeit with perhaps a bit more wisdom. I find myself watching for underlying assumptions that people make when giving arguments, especially ethical or political, and given my mathematical training this becomes easier. Since I myself have various biases and assumptions of which I am largely unaware, I try to point these out, if I point at all, as modestly as I can. But it surprises me when people declare the certainity and obviousness of ideas and theories that seem anything but. Maybe they’re correct that certain fields of knowledge are complete, but I find such declarations to be hasty. Perhaps, it’s from mathematical training or even some postmodern thought slipping in, but the idea of being wholly ignorant, at least in philosophical questions, still shapes my thought.


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