Wisdom of Life

Socrates: On the Wisdom and the Meaning of Life

“The unexamined life is not worth living.

“Know thyself.

“We cannot live better than in seeking to become better.

The really important thing is not to live, but to live well. And to live well meant, along with more enjoyable things in life, to live according to your principles.

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty. He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.

If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you want to breathe, it is then you shall have it. I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man.

From poets, I moved to artists. No one was more ignorant about the arts than I; no one was more convinced that artists possessed really beautiful secrets. However, I noticed that their condition was no better than that of the poets and that both of them have the same misconceptions. Because the most skillful among them excel in their specialty, they look upon themselves as the wisest of men. In my eyes, this presumption completely tarnished their knowledge. As a result, putting myself in the place of the oracle and asking myself what I would prefer to be — what I was or what they were, to know what they have learned or to know that I know nothing — I replied to myself and to the god: I wish to remain who I am.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

We do not know — neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I— what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it. As a result, all this superiority in wisdom which the oracle has attributed to me reduces itself to the single point that I am strongly convinced that I am ignorant of what I do not know.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

There is only one good — knowledge; and one evil — ignorance. Mankind is made of two kinds of people: wise people who know they’re fools, and fools who think they are wise. Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.

Be nicer than necessary to everyone you meet. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle. Those who are hardest to love need it the most. The highest realms of thought are impossible to reach without first attaining an understanding of compassion.

Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.

Let him who would move the world first move himself. To find yourself, think for yourself. Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for. The easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves. Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.

To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils. All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.

I desire only to know the truth, and to live as well as I can. And, to the utmost of my power, I exhort all other men to do the same. I exhort you also to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of life, and greater than every other earthly conflict.

I pray Thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within.”

***

~Socrates was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought.

Quotes: Essential Thinkers – Socrates

©Excellence Reporter 2020

Categories: Wisdom of Life

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