Principal's Blog: The Root of Wisdom is Humility
I’ve been re-reading a book by Peter Kreeft entitled Philosophy 101 by Socrates. As was the case the first time I read the book, I am surprised by the simplicity of Socrates teaching. When I picture in my mind a “philosopher”, simplicity is not on my list of imagined attributes. Nevertheless, Kreeft and Socrates make an amazing case for humility and simplicity being at the very heart of philosophy and ethics.
Lesson number one in the book is a famous line of reasoning by Socrates that goes something like “There are two types of people in the world; the foolish who think themselves wise and the wise who know that they are foolish.” Socrates came to this understanding when a friend of his asked the Oracle of Delphi if anyone in the world had more wisdom than Socrates. When the Oracle replied that there wasn’t, Socrates began his lifelong quest to discern the meaning of this riddle. He knew many men far “wiser” than he so what could the Oracle possibly mean?
Socrates came to the conclusion that the beginning of wisdom is simply knowing that you do not know. Letting go of your own presumed wisdom and arrogance opens one’s mind to realities that are right in front of our eyes but that we have always been too proud to see. If this sounds familiar you may also have heard a similar message from Jesus Christ. Like Socrates, Jesus’ teaching was simple. Though he was the wisest and most knowledgeable man ever (all-knowing in fact), he never presumed to speak down to his friends. Instead, through stories, questions, and personal example he prodded his followers to come to their own conclusion that is surrendering to humility and love that we gain access to true wisdom and freedom.
It is beautiful to consider how God has unveiled this simple but beautiful wisdom through the ages from Socrates, to Plato, to Aristotle, to Jesus, to Paul, to Thomas Aquinas and many many others throughout history.
Thanks for reading! I hope to write many more blogs this summer!