Socrates Guest Stars in a Quick Introduction

“As for me,” Socrates said, “all I know is that I know nothing.”

Coming from the man whom Apollo’s prophets deemed “the most intelligent man in all of Athens”, this maxim has well outlived its father and even taken on different form–and for good reason too. Very few phrases can describe the fascination attributed to the human dilemma of solving problems only to discover more questions, a Hydra-like phenomenon.

Personally, I find that the phrase ‘Undergraduate Studies’ constitutes a close synonym, however. Think about it.

Before college, we students are weened on a false doctrine. We are taught that there is black and white, that there is a right answer that cannot be argued against. We are taught that the Dark Ages was a time where the world was temporarily destroyed and that Thanksgiving was filled with Turkeys and peaceable relations between “Pilgrims” and “Indians” (they don’t give us a specific tribe name, either, but, judging by the pictures, they seem to be the same fascinating fantasy tribe that movies and colouring books are quite fond of featuring.) We are told that the Crusades were all Christianity’s fault and that the Civil War was only about slaves.

And then we go to college.

We discover that some questions have no answers, that we’re supposed to make our own judgments about the world and its history without having the clumsy footholds that were there for us in the college days–the figurative training wheels are taken off of our figurative bikes.
We are frightened without these training wheels. We are doubtful of our ability to ride without them.
We fall and hit the pavement.
Hard.

It is through college, however, that we learn to accept the lack of unquestionable truth, the lack of facts. It is through college that we learn how to cope with uncertainty, that we learn to love learning.

That is, if we’re doing it right.

This is why I have decided to devote a blog to my studies in the realm of history, culture and literature. I know nothing about any of these fields and what I do know has been corrupted by following the false doctrines of high school. Through this blog I not only plan to undergo a process of detox (from the historical and literary mythology I clung to so tightly before college) but to learn to love studying the fields I wish to dedicate the rest of my life studying–even though I haven’t the slightest idea of how to combine them.

Socrates may have been adamant on insisting that he knew nothing, but he was just as passionate when asserting that “a life unexamined is not worth living.”