I only know that I know nothing


The paradoxes are a number of facts or phrases that apparently are opposed to all the principles that are part of the logic . They may be a fact that gives the impression oppose the truth or sometimes they contradict to the common sense . They are also an excellent stimulus that invites the individual to reflect and develop all their analytical skills to try to understand abstract ideas. One of the most important and recognized paradoxes that have been mentioned says ” I only know that I know nothing ” a phrase that was mentioned by one of the most important men that have existed in the world, Socrates.


What does “I just know that I don’t know anything” mean?

This phrase expresses that a person is aware of their own ignorance in which it is also reflected, that all wisdom comes from the moment in which it is recognized and that there is also no absolute truth .

  • Who said “I just know that I don’t know anything”
  • Origin of the phrase
  • Complete sentence
  • Meaning of “I just know that I don’t know anything”

Who said “I just know that I don’t know anything”

The phrase I just know that I don’t know anything was mentioned by one of the most important Greek philosophers, Socrates . Although this phrase has been assigned to this philosopher, it has not been found in a written and literal way in any of his texts. In the work known as the Apology of Socrates , Plato is in charge of presenting a version of the speech that had been delivered by the philosopher while he was being tried in a trial before his death and refers that Socrates, on the one hand, believed he knew something while he knew nothing and this is where it follows that the phrase was mentioned by Socrates


Origin of the phrase

The origin of this famous phrase mentioned by Socrates in which he expresses the particularity of his teachings and in which it is not seen as the bearer of maximum knowledge had a very unique origin. According to the writings of Plato , when Socrates was tried in a trial accused of corrupting the young and society , Cherephon , who was a friend of the philosopher, decided to go to the oracle of Delphi, he asked a question asking if there was any more intelligent man that Socrates and in response, the fortune tellers told him that no one was wiser than him.

When Socrates hears the message, he is surprised and decides to consult with several people whom he considered intelligent. All these people thought they knew everything and it is the moment in which the philosopher realizes that this aspect was what made him different from the others because the recognition of his own ignorance made him a wiser man . Then he decides to confirm that the oracle was right by saying “if I am the wisest it is because I don’t think I know what I don’t know . 

Complete sentence

Many scholars assure that the complete sentence read the following: “I am wiser than this man, because, I am inclined to think that neither of us knows anything about good or beautiful, but he thinks he knows without knowing, on the other hand I Since I don’t know anything, I don’t think I know anything. Well it seems that I am wiser than him in this: in not believing in knowing what I do not know .

However, other forms of the phrase have been accepted , for example, “I only know that I know nothing and, knowing that I know nothing, I know something” and “I only know that I know nothing, and this completely differentiates me from other philosophers. who think they know everything ” .

Meaning of “I just know that I don’t know anything”

This phrase is usually subject to different meanings, some of them suggest that the absolute truth does not really exist and others indicate the possibility of verifying the limits of knowledge that can be reached about things, it has even been said which was a phrase to create a division between the wise and the ignorant.

One of its meanings indicates the possibility that Socrates will try to make known that his wisdom was not based on knowledge about things but rather declared his ignorance about knowledge and thus made himself look like someone who had the will to learn each more day. It also proposes the idea that the individual does not have the capacity to possess an absolute truth and that for this reason it is important that they have availability and willingness to learn new things.

It is important to remember that for Socrates there was no absolute truth and that for him it was important and fundamental to question everything. So, it is said that what Socrates really wanted with his phrase was to make the interlocutors doubt about their knowledge and about themselves so that in this way they will be able to understand that no person has the absolute truth on any subject.

The phrase can also be understood as a statement that indicates that true wisdom is found in the recognition of the limits that knowledge can have and that for that reason you must always be willing to learn constantly avoiding pretending as if you know everything when in reality everything is ignored. It was a means by which the philosopher recognized that he was not an expert and that there were also a series of limits to knowledge.

Also, it implies that there is a dividing line between people who consider themselves wise and those who consider themselves ignorant . The ignorant are those who believe they know everything, those who think that they are always right and that they do not have a true sense about their true and own ignorance. Wise people, on the other hand, understand and recognize that there are many things that they must learn both from other people and from the same environment and that if they really want to improve and expand their knowledge, they must open up to new perspectives .

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