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FROM IRONY TO ENIGMA: DISCOVERING DOUBLE IGNORANCE AND SOCRATES’ DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

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To dismiss the problems of Socratic moral intellectualism as well as Socratic irony (with respect to his claims of ignorance) in the following we shall first discuss how there are different forms of not-knowing in the Platonic dialogues. By referencing various passages throughout Plato’s entire corpus we shall see that like his nuanced understanding of knowledge, Plato also delineated between kinds of ignorance with only one denying virtue and the good life to individuals. This will prove that Socrates does not associate with a reprehensible state when he claims ignorance and thus there is no need to appeal to irony when he makes such avowals of not-knowing. In the second half of this essay I will also suggest that the knowledge to which Socrates appeals is not an “ironic” appeal to human knowledge, as various scholars have argued, but is a sincere appeal to divine knowledge, i.e. immediate wisdom, which all human beings possess and rely on in their daily lives. In other words, Socratic knowing is a kind of enigmatic knowing which must be understood as a pre-theoretical, unexamined or innate wisdom. For Socrates all individuals “possess” such wisdom but in order to do the work that is “properly” human, i.e. the work allowing for virtue, one must enigmatically marry this “knowledge” with recognized ignorance.

10.1163/24680974-90000563
/content/journals/10.1163/24680974-90000563
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/content/journals/10.1163/24680974-90000563
2010-03-30
2017-10-23

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