1. For Socrates, the search for wisdom begins with an attempt to gain clarity as to who we truly are as human beings. Before we can presume to understand the world, we must begin by understanding the reality of our own consciousness. From a Socratic point of view, the world is reduced exclusively to the human world, everything else being inconsequential. Initially, the search for wisdom is understood in terms of my need to understand precisely who I am.
“Jack of all trades, master of none” (Titelman,1). This idiom is what exactly comes to mind when I ponder over Socrates’ apparent need to pursue self above all things. While there are many other things that appear more important, more crucial than giving utmost attention to one’s self, the reality of life is that we cannot function, we cannot give life our best shot until we look inward and find out exactly who we are. Even “the world, with all its elements and stars, steps aside to let the self, the human soul, occupy the only place of prominence worthy of consideration in the adventure of philosophy” (Navia, 39). I believe that self is so important because we have to identify our ‘calling’, the main reason of being on earth, before we can even think about affecting our environment, peers etc. I totally agree with Socrates when he “insists that instead of looking outwards, that is toward the world, we should turn our glance inwards, that is, to the being that we are, each one of us in his own individuality” (Navia, 39). All of us cannot be involved in every single thing at the same time. We must first identify who we are, what interests us and then find our niche in this big, lonely world. Then, and only then, can we achieve any meaningful goal. Navia also notes in his ‘Adventure of Philosophy’ book that “more important than questions concerning the elements of nature or the processes responsible for the emergence of things or metaphysical inquiries that pretend to clarify the essence of Being are those that have to do with the self or the soul and those that are relevant to the conditions that lead to happiness and to a virtuous life (Navia, 39). I could not agree more, for indeed discovering self comes first and all these other things are ideas that we form based on the foundation of self that we have.
2. The self – that is, who I am – is primarily revealed in those aspects of my existence that involve conscious choices. I am what and who I am in so far as I choose to be and do what I am and do. This involves moral and ethical choices – what I choose because of my sense of moral and ethical obligation. Consequently the Socratic search is concentrated in the moral dimension of my existence, which is what Socrates regarded as the true reality of the person.
Looking at this paragraph, the first thing that comes to mind is the reality that as humans we are judged by what we do or refuse to do, what we say or refuse to say, and what we derive pleasure in and what we don’t derive...