ARE YOU SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW
You may have often seen this quote attributed to Plato’s Socrates: “True knowledge is knowing you know nothing.” Although no such quote can be found in any of Plato’s works, there is enough to conclude that it is a paraphrase of what may have been said by Socrates at his trial concerning his accuser: “He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know.”1
In today’s vernacular, we might, with Plato’s permission, paraphrase it this way: True knowledge is knowing that you don’t know everything about anything. But to hear some people talk, either about religion, the Bible, politics, the economy, legal matters, social issues, etc., etc., at home, in the office, on the street, on TV or radio, you get the impression that they know all there is to know and the reason they are telling you what they know is because they don’t think you know enough.
While there is little chance you can change them, you can certainly keep from becoming one of them. I once heard someone say, in response to an issue that everyone was talking about, “Here’s all I know about it.” It might have been their way of saying: My mind is open to learning more because I’m eager to increase my knowledge on the subject. Then again, it may have been his method of informing others that he was satisfied with his level of understanding on the subject and was not interested in knowing more about something that didn’t interest him.
In any case, whenever we are in a position to express an opinion on any subject, it might be advisable to take Socrates’ position and proceed with caution, knowing that we don’t know everything about it, and what we do know is always subject to correction. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Plato: Apology