Home Discussion Forum 1. What did Socrates mean when he said, “All I know is...

1. What did Socrates mean when he said, “All I know is that I do not know”? Did he think that he knew absolut?

1.What did Socrates mean when he said, “All I know is that I do not know”? Did he think that he knew absolutely nothing?


  1. Joeq D has it right.
    Socrates was speaking of all knowledge (especially things of a theoretical or subjective nature) as uncertainties.
    He wasn’t saying that he knew *nothing*, merely that of all the things he knew (or thought he knew) to be true, only the fact that he knew very little (against the sum of the knowledge of the universe) was certain.

  2. I think he was humbly admitting he didn’t know anything, while simultaneously stating that this he did know. It’s a contradictory sentence, and pretty humorous if you ask me!

  3. This is a beautiful quote. It is the realization that one can only know so much. He had come to a place where he was just realizing how much he did not know. As we expand our minds, and as people, we come to obtain more knowledge and experience, and through wisdom manifested, we realize that there is phenomenal amount of information we cannot comprehend or conceptualize in our minds.

  4. He means that he knows for sure that he doesn’t know everything. Also, i don’t wither, therefore, all I know is that I do not know. He definitely knew some things at least, or else he wouldn’t even be able to talk so he had to have known he knew something, not absolutely.

  5. After being told he was the wisest man of all by the Oracle of Delphi, Socrates sought to find a man wiser than he. He understood that, when pressed, he knew nothing other than the fact that he knew nothing (i.e. he could not rationally justify). Therefore, he questioned the beliefs of those in positions of authority to find someone who knew something, someone who had knowledge and was wiser than he. He was not denying the possibility for knowledge, just admitting he did not know and seeking to find a person who did

  6. The thing about Socrates is that he is not a sophist. He and Antiphon would’ve had issues about knowledge, justice, morality. Socrates believed that man was limited in his knowledge and that we cannot possibly know every single little thing. So he realized that he really did not know everything. Socrates (you should read Euthyphro) in conversing with others whom do think they know a lot or everything shows a sort of sarcastic tone. He likes to analyze your position on whatever issue (ie) morality and then asks why you believe that way or why you think it’s the right way. The questions get deeper and deeper to the point where the person starts going through sort of a self-questioning trance. Nothing was every absolute for Socrates.
    This is mainly what got him in trouble with the establishment in ancient Greece.


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