I know that I know nothing  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"I know that I know nothing" (scio me nihil scire or scio me nescire) is a well-known saying which is attributed to the Greek philosopher Socrates. The preferred saying, as recorded in much literature, is "The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing".


The impreciseness of the English translation stems from the fact that the author is not saying that he does not know anything but means instead that one cannot know anything with absolute certainty but can feel confident about certain things.


The citation is probably borrowed from Socrates' Apology which Plato handed down:

Template:Polytonic </br> — This man, on one hand, believes that he knows something, while not knowing [anything]. On the other hand, I - equally ignorant - do not believe [that I know anything].

Socrates also deals with this phrase in Plato's dialogue Meno when he says:

Template:Polytonic </br> —So now I do not know what virtue is; perhaps you knew before you contacted me, but now you are certainly like one who does not know. (trans. G.M.A. Grube)

Here, Socrates aims at the change of Meno's opinion, who was a firm believer in his own opinion and whose claim to knowledge Socrates had disproved.

It is essentially the question that began philosophy. Socrates begins all wisdom with wondering, thus one must begin with admitting one's ignorance.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "I know that I know nothing" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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