a2z: ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα

I started working on this on the 8th.  but then life happened.  I’m not quitting the Challenge.  it’s just gonna take me a while to catch up.  and for the most part, I’ve been following the progress of most of you, though I may not leave many comments.


so I couldn’t narrow down what to write about for E.  ideas included “emptiness”, “eagerness”, “exacerbation”, “excuses”, “endurance”, et cetera.  all very cliché James-ideas.  when I asked Brian for a suggested, he gave me “Easter”.  fuck that.  hell, I was even considered writing about the ellipsis — reference its importance in both language and math!  (yes, I’m that much of a geek.)

but instead, I’m stepping outside the box and tweaking the rules a little.  (we all know I wouldn’t be properly participating if I didn’t do so at some point anyway.)  so yeah, here we go.


April 2015’s Blogging A to Z:
ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα


if I remember correctly nothing (or at least very little) of what Socrates taught was actually written down by himself. rather, it was Plato who went on about his sire’s teaches. so the actual origin or background for this phrase is rather muddled and can be pulled in many different directions.  (there’s actually controversy as to if the phrase was ever actually recorded or if it’s a ghost phrase [RE: dord].  but it’s the concept I want to focus on.)

anyway, this phrase of Socrates’, loosely translated back-and-forth between Greek and Latin and English, states “I know that I know nothing”.  of course, because of these recurrent translations, there are other iterations of the phrase (“I know one thing — that I know nothing”, etc.).  but they all mean basically this: don’t be an idiot and think you know more than you do.

there’s a tale about a god speaking via an oracle in Delphi who claims Socrates to be the wisest man of all.  Socrates was like, “wtf? no way is this true!”  so he seeks out others who are thought to be among the most wise so that he may converse with an analyze them.  overall, they were pretty fucking smart.  but they believed they knew more than they did.  they were arrogant and stubborn about their knowledges and beliefs.  Socrates walks away from all this saying (paraphrasing here, kids), “so none of us really know anything beautiful and good, but I’m better off than these blokes — they know nothing, yet think they know; and I’m pretty damn well aware that I don’t know.”

I like this approach.  I try to encourage people I instruct or lead to do similar — it’s okay to admit not knowing something.  in the library, for example, if we don’t know they answer (which is honestly often thee case), we’ll help you find it.  I get dismayed when people pretend to be more informed than they are.

sure, I do it upon occasion.  I believe it’s one of those flaws that everyone has to some degree or another, and for a variety of reasons.  however, I think it’s important that we make our selves aware of it, and try to manage it.


ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα


4 thoughts on “a2z: ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα

  1. No judgments here, I went out of order on purpose :-b. Great post though. I try to communicate this with my nephews quite often who believe they need to act like they know everything :-b


    • haha, yeah. I’m inclined to disregard rules. 😛

      I used to be really bad about pretending to be intelligent and knowledgeable. I grew up in poverty, so all of my friends were initially under-educated. but apparently I was rather smart, because I was placed in the advanced Gifted/Talented Program. most of the kids in the program had more wealthy upbringings on account of their parents having actually graduated college (mine didn’t; my mother never even attended). so I felt like I was inferior for the rest of my schooling career.

      by the time I got into college, I began to understand that I was quick to grasp concepts and learn skills; I just have a horrid memory. this aided in my not having fake intelligence so much.

      how old are your nephews?


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