Know Thyself

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Melissa Stanley
Philosophy midterm
January 30, 2005
Know Thyself
For the great philosopher Socrates, asking questions and seeking answers to all of life's questions was a life long pursuit. Socrates believed that the whole point of life was to examine and question it. He believed that the unexamined life is not worth living. The command ‘Know Thyself' reflects Socrates mission and lifelong endeavor in many aspects. For Socrates believed that if you didn't know yourself, or seek to know yourself, then you knew nothing. There are two very important concepts of the Greek culture that help to explain Socrates mission, these would be the idea of telos and arête. Also being able to understand how knowledge, wisdom and learning can help to ‘know thyself'.

When speaking of Socrates and his goal in life, which was to help others better understand themselves and the world, it is imperative that one mentions the Greek concepts of telos and arête. Telos was to have a goal, or purpose. The Greeks believed that everything in life had a telos, and fulfillment of your telos was a completion of self. It was believed that perfection of the goal, of self, is the same for all of us, that it was in our human nature. Arête was being or having excellence in life, having virtue.

Arête would seem to be of more importance to Socrates because Socrates believed that virtue, or Arête, is knowledge, and one of the most important things when learning wisdom and knowledge is being able to know what you do not know. Socrates claims that you acquire wisdom and knowledge through ignorance. Learning of any sort is impossible. If you know it then you don't need to learn it, but if you don't learn it you can't know it. The paradox is that you can't learn what you don't know. Socrates believed that you could learn anything-you just might have to go about learning it in a different way then what you are used to. In paragraph a of 71 Socrates says that " I am so far from...
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