I know that I know nothing. - Socrates
Published: Aug 10, 2022
Socrates was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, Socrates authored no texts and is known mainly through the posthumous accounts of classical writers, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon.

"I know that I know nothing."

This is a motto of humility quote, from the perspective of Socrates, any knowledge or information he did have was likely to be insignificant (or even completely false) compared to how much was left to be discovered.

"I know that I know nothing" is a saying derived from Plato's account of the Greek philosopher Socrates. Socrates himself was never recorded as having said this phrase, and scholars generally agree that Socrates only ever asserted that he believed that he knew nothing, having never claimed that he knew that he knew nothing. It is also sometimes called the Socratic paradox, although this name is often instead used to refer to other seemingly paradoxical claims made by Socrates in Plato's dialogues (most notably, Socratic intellectualism and the Socratic fallacy).

This saying is also connected or conflated with the answer to a question Socrates (according to Xenophon) or Chaerephon (according to Plato) is said to have posed to the Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, in which the oracle stated something to the effect of "Socrates is the wisest person in Athens." Socrates, believing the oracle but also completely convinced that he knew nothing, was said to have concluded that nobody knew anything, and that he was only wiser than others because he was the only person who recognized his own ignorance.

The term Socratic paradox may be used to refer to several seemingly paradoxical claims made by the philosopher Socrates:

I know that I know nothing, a saying which is sometimes (somewhat inaccurately) attributed to Socrates

Socratic intellectualism, the view that nobody ever knowingly does wrong

Socratic fallacy, the view that using a word meaningfully requires being able to give an explicit definition of it
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