Socrates On Knowledge

Socrates holds knowledge to be developed by exchange and interplay of ideas and opinions or beliefs between people. Knowledge is thus the final product of this intellectual process after arriving at a mediated consensus, which is our attempt to create a “definitive standard”. That standard is common knowledge or “common sense” that is built upon largely agreed-upon ideas and commonly held beliefs. These notions appear completely “natural” to the phillistine, but Socrates knew that this occurence was due to divine guidance from the righteous hand of Apollo, “God of Philosophy”. This explanation wont satisfy most modern readers and I’m sure more materalist modern scientific theory have a better explanation as to “why”, but Socrates was one of the first to point out “how”, which has impacted the history of the world and the philosophical tradition of the Western world profoundly.

Socrates’ belief in the pursuit of knowledge as a virtue is an important piece of Socratian logic one should adopt into their own worldview. This recommendation and advice on relationships, empathy and inquiry, requiring one to be a “ zealot” in their pursuit of knowledge.

I’m a zealot Eurythmo, zealous for your wisdom, and I’m keeping a close eye on it, so that what you say does not fall on unfettered ground.” (p. 28 d, Plato, 2003)

Socrates tells us that if we were to be zealous for knowledge and zealous in our exchange of knowledge, we must oblige in critiquing the knowledge of others for their sake and ours in order to arrive at a common standard.

Socrates has thusly laid out the logical foundations of which modern Western academic tradition is based upon.


Plato, 2003, The Last Days of Socrates, trans: H. Treddenick & H. Tarrant, Penguin Books, London

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