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  • Writer's pictureBreanna Crossman

Know Thyself by Smrithe Rajesh

The article “Know Thyself” by Mitchell Green is an article primarily focused on Socrates, one of the most influential figures of Greek philosophy, background as well his most famous ideologies which the author dissects and examines whilst using not only examples from the past, but also from the modern events as well. There were two main quotes of Socrates which were mentioned in the reading so far, “So I withdrew and thought to myself: 'I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know.” and “The unexamined life is not worth living for men. Though both quotes are worded differently, they both have the relatively same underlying message, a man who acknowledges his ignorance and takes the time to understand and ponder about his own thoughts is one who is ultimately superior in the ways of life.

Socrates' ideologies were something that were looked down upon by the older generation of Athens at a time yet now, they are utmost cherished and revered upon by people across the world. The author praises Socrates of his loyalty to his own ideologies to the point that he had chosen death over exile yet at the same time, the author criticizes Socrates for having such a narrow minded viewpoint when it came to those who disagreed upon his ideas. The author takes both parts of the argument and leaves it up to the reader to decide which they believe is truly the “right one.” However, at the end it all revolves around the main argument of what it means to truly know oneself and if the ability to do so is even worth it at the end of the road.

Personally, I do believe that there is some truth behind Socrates' teachings, starting with the first quote mentioned above. It’s human nature for us to think quite highly of ourselves, whether it comes to our talents, our beauty, and our wit, and it can be very hard for someone to admit that they are in the wrong, I know it surely is for me. So when Socrates had mentioned that acknowledging one’s own ignorance makes him smarter than one who pretends that he is in the right, I automatically agreed because no matter how wise you may be, if you are unable to own up to your own mistakes, then are you really so wise after all? Humility is a coexistent trait with wit and it helps us as individuals grow and learn more to educate ourselves.

Moving on to the second quote, I had more mixed feelings behind what Socrates had to say. He mentions that being unable to judge one’s character, thoughts, and features is not a “life worth living” and although I believe that self reflection is extremely important, the author had brought up an interesting point which severely questioned my judgment. The author brought up Pallavi and Abdul, two individuals who fight for what they believe in, As mentioned they both “work very hard, and have precious little time or energy left over at day’s end to for debating about the nature of justice, wisdom, or the like.” They still do a great load of good, however, not many working individuals in today’s day and time have the privilege like Socrates once did to sit around and talk about one’s own philosophies and to that I believe that knowing thyself is important, however, you do not have to know more about yourself by following the ways of Socrates. Knowing yourself is a journey you take yourself and it is up to you and how far you are willing to go to understand that and absolutely no one can take that away from you. So, if you have to die like Socrates did to uphold his own beliefs, so be it, it is always up to you.

Smrithe Rajesh (she/her) is a 15-year-old rising Sophomore currently residing in the United States. Her work has appeared multiple times in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and she has had her work published in the Incandescent Studio and other notable publications. She enjoys reading and eating ice cream in her free time.

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