I found a new book recently that is a daily devotional for intellectuals. It offers various readings each day presenting facts from the seven fields of knowledge. While reading the other night from the area of Philosophy, I came across an interesting idea presented by Socrates. Without the exact quote, the book presented it like this:
Socrates explained that he was no wiser than any other; it is only that he is aware of his own ignorance. That is what made him intelligent, in a sense.
I went online and found a few quotes that were similar and wanted to present them and discuss them here along with my thoughts on the concept.
True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.
I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.
Socrates evidently challenged men that claimed to know so much about various topics just to prove they did not know as much as they claimed to know. I think we can learn a lesson from this. It is our ignorance and our lack of knowledge that allows us to see ourselves for what we truly are. The ability to realize that I am ignorant to so much is what provides me with the wisdom in my life. Understanding that my knowledge is limited allows me to respect that which I do not yet understand and strive to continuously add to my knowledge base. However, I know that I will still be learning as long as I live, and I also know that I will never in my lifetime gain every bit of knowledge which exists in the world.
Something that has always fascinated me about those with intellectual disabilities is that they are content in their ignorance. Consider those with Asperger’s and their superior “hyperfocus” on topics which interest them; they continue to learn as much as they possibly can about a topic and are not concerned with their lack of knowledge of other topics. To me, that seems to put them at a higher level than most people. Many of us like to pretend that we know so much (myself included) and we are merely full of useless facts that do not provide anything to the greater good. We like to deny our ignorance of certain things in order to maintain a superiority complex. Those with intellectual disabilities seem to be aware of that ignorance and completely accepting of it. They do not need to know everything. They know what they know, and they are happy in that knowledge.
It makes me wonder if my desire to know so much is commendable or detestable. Should I continue to strive for knowledge or be more accepting of the fact that regardless of my quest to learn as much as I can, I will never learn it all? Should I be content in my ignorance of those things which I do not, and may not ever, understand? What are your thoughts?