Colgate University Libraries


Xinru Cheng


In Plato’s Apology and Gorgias, there is an apparent inconsistency in Socrates’ words regarding wisdom. Socrates encourages practicing excellence to live the best way of life during his discussion with Callicles in Gorgias, implying he knows what excellence is. However, at the trial in Apology, he claims to lack wisdom in what is worthwhile, and comments on the little worth of human wisdom. This paper is an attempt to analyze Socrates’ words, as presented by Plato in these two dialogues, in order to clarify what Socrates’ claims to know and not to know, as well as his attitude on human wisdom in general. Then the inconsistency will be examined more closely to explore possible explanations.