Socrates is one of the most famous philosophers of known history. This article attempts to show how his so-called Socratic Paradoxes can help us in our life journey.
What are the Socratic Paradoxes
The Socratic Paradoxes refer to mainly two different conclusions Socrates made in his life three thousand years ago.
A) The first paradox is that nobody ever does wrong knowingly. This means that we all think we are right. Because of that, we always think we act in the right way.
B) The second paradox is that nobody knows what they mean when they use a term they cannot explicitly define. This means that if you cannot describe to others what a single term means, then you basically don’t know what you are saying
Rightness is relative
According to the first Socratic Paradox, we naturally and always think we are right. In a way, we can observe this phenomenon in our lives too. What action have you taken thinking it was wrong before you make it? You may have had second thoughts but you always act because you think you are right.
What if you were sure you were about to commit something wrong? Chances are you would never do it in the first place. The real question is whether it is advisable to always think we are right.
In a way, there is no such thing as absolute right and absolute wrong. According to the experiences we have and the way we grow up, we all have different metrics of right and wrong. Actually, the notion of right and wrong seems to be more of a social arrangement rather than an existential reality.
For example, what a right-wing American may think is right could be considered wrong by a left-wing Russian. The notion of right and wrong is relative. We never actually know if something is right or wrong. Depending on who we want to please or what we want to achieve, accordingly, we can adjust what we do to serve the purpose of our actions.
We do not need to be rigid in our opinions and conclusions. Flexibility is key if we want to live in a society and have productive and meaningful relationships with others.
Words are important
According to the second Socratic Paradox, we know what we mean only if we can define every single term we use. Either that is a simple word (such as “family”) or a more complicated notion (such as “rat race trap”), the ability to explain them to others is an important part of communication.
Most importantly, when you know the meaning of the words that you speak, you can understand and easier organize your thoughts. After all, the words we use are part of a social arrangement we use to communicate with each other: the language. It is not a coincidence that we can think differently if we think in another language.
In sum, if you want to communicate effectively and understand your thoughts, then it is best to research the meaning of the words you use. Especially the complicated term. Alternatively, just abstain from using terms you don’t understand, such as complicated words we read or listen to from others or the news.
- According to the experiences we have and the way we grow up, we all have different metrics of right and wrong.
- Depending on who we want to please or what we want to achieve, accordingly, we can adjust what we do to serve the purpose of our actions.
- When you know the meaning of the words that you speak, you can understand and easier organize your thoughts