Jan 19, 2020 in Philosophy

Wisdom Is the Highest Virtue

Throughout human history people differentiated various theories of wisdom that, in the majority of cases, highlighted positive traits and capabilities of human beings. Taking into consideration the beliefs of many Greek philosophers, including Socrates, wisdom is considered to be the master of virtue.The given paper aims to shed light on the attitudes of Socrates towards wisdom. In other words, much attention will be paid to the Socrates’ assumption that wisdom is the highest virtue.

It is extremely important to note the fact that Socrates was one of the first Greek philosophers who made wisdom one of the most urgent topics of philosophical analysis. Socrates’ view of wisdom, as presented by Plato in The Apology, is sometimes compared to the humility theory of wisdom. According to one of the theories, Socrates is a wise man because he, compared to many other poets, craftsmen, and politicians, believes he is not wise enough. In other words, Socrates never boasts of his wisdom in order to prove that other people lack it. According to Socrates, true wisdom should be treated as specific knowledge about the essence of things. This form of wisdom cannot be obtained or acquired from without, but should be sought within the soul itself. Consequently, one of the major aims of Socrates was to train and motivate people to think, and with help of thinking give them a chance to reach the inner sense of knowledge and wisdom within themselves. Socrates was the proponent of the idea that wisdom positively impacts moral and physical worlds of people. In addition, Socrates claimed that wisdom is one of the preconditions of human happiness. According to main idea presented in The Apology, Socrates makes an attempt to convince the Athenians that he has never witnessed anyone who is genuinely wise. In such a way, it is possible to assume that in order to feel happiness, humans should strive for acquiring “genuine wisdom”. 

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Taking into consideration numerous interpretations of wisdom inThe Apology, it is possible to state that Socrates was a humanly wise man because he loved wisdom. In addition, according to the plot of The Apology, Socrates differentiates human wisdom and wisdom that is typical to the God because he states that “god is wise” and “human wisdom is worth nothing”. Furthermore, according to the nature of Socratic views, “ordinary human wisdom” is completely different from the “divine wisdom”. Having analyzed and assessed the content and nature of The Apology, it is possible to assume that Socrates is convinced that wisdom is the highest virtue and a key to human happiness. On the contrary, wrongdoing and behavior that is not virtuous, are the results of human ignorance. Throughout The Apology Socrates claims only one time that he is a wise man, in which he states that he has limited human wisdom. The Greek philosopher believes that human ignorance should be treated as the most influential obstacle or, in other words, barrier on the way of human beings to “genuine wisdom”. Generally speaking, Socrates was the advocate of the hypothesis that humans should focus all their strengths and efforts on the pursuit of “genuine wisdom” that is typical to the God. 

Having reviewed and evaluated the philosophical principles of Socrates on the basis of The Apology, one should pay attention to the fact that attitudes of Socrates towards wisdom are not unreasonable. In other words, his theory makes sense because it motivates his followers and other humans to concentrate on self-development, persistent work, and self-knowledge. In simple words, Socrates expresses the idea that wisdom brings people closer to so-called genuine happiness. At the same time, Socrates appeals to the theory that human wisdom is unmeasurable as it has no limits and borders. Human wisdom is characterized by such uncommon feature as limited nature and, that is why, humans should always move forward in order not to make their wisdom worthless. Wisdom gives the chance to its followers to control their actions and make them correspond to the basic principles of morality and ethical opinions. Thus, according to the estimations of Socrates, the primary purpose of humans is to seek wisdom because it will definitely provide people with a chance to have a general understanding of sense and nature of wisdom. Wisdom may be compared to the capstone of knowledge . 

Having reviewed the essence of the term “wisdom” and attitudes of the Greek philosopher Socrates towards this human condition, I would like to stress that I absolutely agree to the belief of Socrates that wisdom is the highest virtue. In my opinion, Socrates motivates people to pursuit as well as love wisdom because happy is the person who succeeds in finding wisdom throughout the whole life. However, the notion “wisdom” should not be used synonymouslywith the term “knowledge” because knowledge is only a tiny part of wisdom. In other words, wisdom should be understood by humans as effective applying of skills and knowledge to develop oneself and, consequently, influence other people. Taking into account the assumption of Socrates that wisdom is the highest virtue, it is possible to use the term “wisdom” synonymously with the words “excellence” and “perfection”. Socrates’ theory of wisdom teaches people that their knowledge is limited, and, consequently, they will always have an opportunity to learn something new in their lives. Seeking wisdom is one of the best guarantees of human happiness. As a result, “wisdom as not knowing” is a motivator for people to seek excellent and virtuous life. Socrates emphasizes that wisdom should perform the functions of motivational impetus that should encourage people seek happiness, enrich knowledge, develop skills as well as capabilities, and, finally, positively impact the surrounding. Having shed light on the essence of wisdom as the most valuable and highest virtue it is possible to infer that wisdom should be understood by humanity as the master virtue that provides people with the opportunity to understand how to put all human values into practice, effectively use knowledge, and, finally, acquire the state of “genuine happiness”. 

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