Socrates' Pursuit of Wisdom Essay

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Philosophy can be defined as the pursuit of wisdom or the love of knowledge. Socrates, as one of the most well-known of the early philosophers, epitomizes the idea of a pursuer of wisdom as he travels about Athens searching for the true meaning of the word. Throughout Plato’s early writings, he and Socrates search for meanings of previously undefined concepts, such as truth, wisdom, and beauty. As Socrates is often used as a mouthpiece for Plato’s ideas about the world, one cannot be sure that they had the same agenda, but it seems as though they would both agree that dialogue was the best way to go about obtaining the definitions they sought. If two people begin on common ground in a conversation, as Socrates often tries to do, they are …show more content…

In order to do this, he goes about Athens questioning those he believes to be wiser than him, including politicians, poets, and craftsmen. Upon this questioning, he discovers that even those perceived as the wisest actually know far less than one would expect. Even the craftsmen, who have much practical wisdom in their respective fields, see their success as merely a tribute to their vast knowledge of many subjects. This, Socrates claims, is not true wisdom. Human wisdom can be described as the acknowledgement and acceptance that one does not know everything, nor is one capable of knowing everything. This, however, does not mean that people should sit idly by, never pursuing wisdom, for it is still vital to the attainment of a good life, which should be the ultimate goal of mankind. After discovering this definition of wisdom, Socrates’ mission transforms from one of learning to one of teaching. He sees himself as on a mission from the god Apollo, who wishes for him to demonstrate his newfound knowledge of the nature of wisdom to all of Athens. Therefore, he continues to travel about the city and question those he sees as wiser than himself, but this time his purpose is not to glean the meaning of wisdom, but to show the people he is questioning their own deficiencies in being wise. In this manner, he sees himself as a gadfly on the horse that is Athens. Gadflies are small, insignificant creatures which have a large impact on the subject of their stinging. They

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