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"Knowledge and Reality" -- spring '07: Did Socrates really prove that no one knows anything?

Socrates in no way has proven that no one knows anything. The most obvious thing that he says which proves this is when he says that he knows that he knows nothing. Right there it shows that he knows something, even if that something is nothing. In the Apology Socrates states that “God only is wise.” There is another thing which he knows. If he knows this, chances are other people know this as well. With that one sentence Socrates is actually saying several things. One, that he knows there is a God. Two, that God is wise. And three, that God is the only One who is wise.

In no way did Socrates prove that nobody knows anything. He went around to the different groups, talking to people who were thought of as wise. After speaking to them he didn’t think that they were actually wise or that they had any real knowledge. What makes Socrates a good judge of who is wise though? The term philosopher means a lover of wisdom; it does not necessarily mean that this person always knows what wisdom is and who has it.

What Socrates proved was not that people don’t know anything. What he proved was that he could not find wisdom in anyone else. The Oracle told him that there was no one wiser than he was. After hearing this one is probably not as motivated to actually find someone wiser than himself. Socrates was probably expecting, even hoping, that he would find no one wiser. He was probably only searching for wisdom in others half-heartedly, so any answer they would have given him he could have just shrugged off (which it seems that he did).

Socrates may have misinterpreted what the Oracle said though. The Oracle said, “He is the wisest because he knows his wisdom is worth nothing.” Earlier the Oracle said, “The wisdom of men is worth little or nothing.” The Oracle isn’t saying that human beings know nothing. Humans do have wisdom, it just isn’t that significant.
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