Socrates was a Greek philosopher, an enigmatic genius- A genius who gave a whole new norm to the Western philosophy. The standard set by him, his critical reasoning, his view on life and surrounding made him an admirable inspiration to many who came across his teachings, and also had accusers who eventually put him to trial and execution.
Socrates lived an impoverished life. Despite being such a significant figure in philosophy, he never left a word about himself. Although we know little about his life except for the information recorded by his students, including Plato, what we do know makes it clear that he had a unique and powerful philosophy and personality.
Although we live in a world that is different from Socrates time and may be the life we live is much different now but he had to say then still applies on our conquest to get a peaceful and happier life.
1. The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.
You can’t learn anything if you think you know it already if you believe you are an expert already and there is nothing more left to learn then you really will have nothing to learn. Open your mind, realize that you might be wrong or mistaken, and you may be ready to learn. Additionally, no matter how much you know, there is a nearly infinite amount of stuff that you don’t know.
You will come across various people in your life with different experience and knowledge sets, you will meet an industrialist and a beggar on the same day, and you must be curious to learn from both and try and understand the problems of both the people and solve their problems accordingly.
2. Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.
Gossiping and engaging in small talk which is not productive and leads you nowhere are works of smaller minds, stronger minds discuss ideas which hold power to introduce change for the betterment of one and all.
My favorite quote from ‘V for Vendetta’ sums it up perfectly.
“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason, and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot… But what of the man? I know his name was Guy Fawkes and I know, in 1605, he attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But who was he really? What was he like? We are told to remember the idea, not the man because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I’ve witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I’ve seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love… And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man… A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget.”
Creedy: Die! Die! Why won’t you die?… Why won’t you die?
V: Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.
Unfortunately, this generation is more after people and their life more than ideas. They are interested in knowing what particular celebrity is eating or wearing instead of thinking of ideas that could change the world for better.
3. He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.
Some people have a hunger, a desire to get more and more. When this desire is uncontrolled, we call it greed. On the other hand, if you can be content with what you have, having more would be better, but not necessary. The one who keeps wishing for more instead of being thankful for what he has will never be happy even after he receives more. We need to appreciate what we have, enjoy and be content with whatever we are blessed with and the universe will reward us with more of it.
4. ‘Gnothi Seuton’ (know thyself)
One of the ways of knowing yourself is understanding your belief system. Our beliefs are subconscious and we are least bothered to critically examine them before accepting them.
We thereby refuse to hear anything that contradicts with our beliefs. Now how do we know where our belief system is creating the problem? Well, you can either take a psychological test or can meditate or the easier and most under looked way is self-observation. You cannot blame TV, teachers, parents, friends or even yourself for the beliefs you have and it is not even important to play the blame game here. The important thing is you want to get rid of it now.