Wisdom is not a virtue, Socrates

Socrates, you talk of virtues and how they guide us to a good and just life. You talk about wisdom and its supreme position among those lights that signal the way forward. You lecture us to invest in philosophical education and dialectic arguments in the hope of finding that knowledge that represents true form, an objective reality that exists for us to grasp and bring back to all fellow citizens like Prometheus brought the fire.

But you don’t see how we get punished, cast to a stone and tortured for our wisdom. Not because of the envy of the gods, but because it gets idolized. It becomes unshakable, undeniable and without critique. It becomes dogma and a weapon. Wisdom strangles the mind it gets hold of and leaves scars in ourselves and society.

Because of that, I have to reject that whole idea you call wisdom. And that not only once but twice on the basis of its definition and its state of a virtue. I have to dismantle your wisdom, my ancient friend.

How can you cling to the belief that there are true forms ? Hasn’t your dialectic argument let you to the conclusion that nothing is certain? No matter how deep we go, a final form never shows. You see a tree. I see leaves, a trunk, wood fibers, cells, molecules, atoms, quarks. And what then? What comes next? What is the objective truth? Just another model idealizing reality. There will never be an end to that journey. We will never reach wisdom but can only seek it, because we are caught in our reality, the human reality, and that is a mere shadow of the All underlying it. Forever imprisoned in our minds.

No matter where we look with our eyes and minds, the truth we uncover is subjective. Ever changing when looking further and going deeper into our reality and ourselves. And that is what we have to pursue: subjective truth. A truth that is changing with time and experience in a race towards the All, a truth we can never know, which we can never idolize and put in words but which shines as a light in the far distance.

But what to make out of wisdom as virtue, then? Discard it wholesale and leave nothing behind? No. What should guide our courage and our dealings with other people if not that subject truth? We need a map to navigate our lives. Therefore, what we need is a more fundamental virtue that creates that map and keeps it true. We need the Seek. A relentless search for more human experiences, to know more about what it means to be human and what our reality is. Combined with courage, men and women will venture towards new truths. They will take on the suffering accompanied with shedding of one’s own beliefs in pursuit of a more accurate understanding of human experience and reality. They will also accept the pain of showing others this new path, redirecting the current of people’s beliefs towards truths which often come with struggle and resistance.

We will suffer, but now, like Sisyphus, knowing that we have to persevere in our unending work in the search for a deeper subject truth. We will know that once we reach the top all starts over again. We will fuel our courage with fear of ignorance, idols and absolutes and the happiness that comes with new revelations.

That, my ancient friend, is what we have to ingrain into people: a pursuit of subjective truth. The courage to venture into chaos and the moderation to accept that it is not absolute what we will discover.

And to stay true to this rejection, I await the moment when even this truth becomes false and is replaced by something else.