Photo of Michael Angelo’s “School of Athens” taken by Author George Fereos at Plato’s museum, Athens, Greece.

One thing I know, I know nothing.

For the unexamined life is not worth living

Socrates! Both title and subtitle, belong to that man. One of the most radical brains I have had the opportunity of realising.

Ethically, I am identified as Greek, but Greece is a land I’ve not visited in my 47 years here on this earth. The time has come (at the time of writing it’s August 2022) to change that.

My quest in this city (Athens) is to search for meaning, purpose and answers to the question, “what is it to live”? Socrates, who lived between 470–399 BCE, went around Athens challenging the status quo, and by all accounts, frustrating and angering so called “wise” people on their wisdom, which made him unpopular, but simultaneously elevated his status to the wisest man who ever lived, as told by his friend Chaerephon.

How did Socrates frustrate the wisest people on the land? By wanting to examine their beliefs so that he can learn from them. You may think, how can people become frustrated from a curious soul who just wants to learn?

The type of person that Socrates was asking were those of the highest order. Athens was a rich city, and drew in teachers, students, writers, philosophers and lawyers, all to leverage their trades, skillsets, and income. The type of person, contextual to this story, were the lawyers. Once you trace back to the ancients, in this era, you might be in acceptance, or have an understanding of what we, of sound mind, conclude as “reason”.

For context and my offering of an opinion, although I have concluded with “reason” to finish off the last paragraph, I will start this paragraph by sharing my thoughts on “everything happens for a reason”! No, everything does not happen for a reason. If it did, then you would have to own atrocities, wars, genocides, dictatorship, natural disasters, famine, corruption and all that is evil. I, for one, cannot accept a “reason” for evil, so things do not happen for a reason, they happen because of life, and the only way to find reason is through philosophy.

Photo taken by author George Fereos at Platos Museum Athens, Greece. Socrates' conversation with Plato — It is worse to do wrong than to suffer it.

What is Philosophy? The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline, is the Oxford Dictionaries' description.

Or, as said by author and the translator of “the defence speech” (apology of Socrates) Manuel Valasquez; Philosophy is the quest for wisdom: an unrelenting devotion to uncover the truth about what matters most in one’s life.

Socrates devoted his life to philosophy. My “reason” on being on this earth is being realised by reading, researching, listening and when the occasion arises, conversing with highly intellectual professors about Socrates. Much resistance and struggle has wrapped and suffocated my sense of being, and logic. I won’t say I’m at peace with the “reason”, but profound texts have provided me with a new lens for my vision forward. The texts in this case come from his (Socrates) defence speech (written by Plato, who was his student) and what would be considered a “Mic drop”

My devotion to the God has reduced me to utter poverty — Socrates

Many developmental strategies (I cannot attain to all, because I don’t know of all), be it personal or business can be rooted to the above quote by Socrates. It will be your interpretation of who, or what “the God” means to you. Once you have that, you will know what you need to give.

I have always said, and I’ll share it to anyone that wants to listen, “Everything has been done before…except you.

Will I find meaning by being in Athens for 10 days, having been alive for 17,440 ish days and still on the quest? This type of question may seem a nonsense, but it’s a valid one because it’s my philosophical approach, and as I’ve said, it’s all been done before…except for me. So, let me be advised by magnificent minds which are the logical minds and the same minds that know they don’t know.

One thing I know is that I know nothing — Socrates

Socrates has the mind that I would like to explore, but I can’t because he’s not here. He didn’t leave any writings of his work either. What we know is what others tell us, and one of the fast track ways of knowing what he stood for was reading the The defense speech (link found above).

The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece. The building was used as a treasury, cathedral, mosque and temple for Athena, the virgin Goddess and patron of Athens. It was philosophy embodied. Photo taken by Author George Fereos. Athens, Greece.

Socrates was accused of “corrupting the youth”, and as he turned 70 he was summoned to court because of that “crime”. My interpretation of the conversation that came from the summoning, could of sounded like this;

Socrates — Am I corrupting the youth or am I serving the youth for the common good?

Court — Sir, you are a disruptor and you are upsetting the status quo — You have to go.

What can be found in the defense speech is magnificent dialogue and it’s my reason to want to know more about Socrates’ magnificent mind

The defense speech, known as “the apology”(apology was a way of saying “defend”, so it was not an apology in the literal sense) was written by Plato. For me, the summise of the speech was deity speaking.

And if you say to me, “Socrates, we will let you go free, but only on condition that you stop your questioning”, then I will reply “men of Athens, I honour and love you, but I must obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength, I will be never stop doing philosophy. For my aim is to persuade you all, young and old alike, not to think about your lives or your properties, but first and foremost to care about your inner self. I tell you that wealth does not make you good within, but that from the inner goodness comes wealth and every other benefit to man. This is my teaching, and if it corrupts youth, then I suppose I am their corruptor”.

He finished the speech with an answer to my above question of, “will I find meaning here in Athens”? which, by all accounts, is wisdom for all who are on a journey of self discovery, with philosophy, to embrace, as it echoes over 2.5 thousand years on;

To talk daily about what makes us good and to question myself and others, is the greatest thing man can do. For the unexamined life is not worth living.

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George Andreas Fereos

George Andreas Fereos

I'm someone who's travelling a journey like many, and realising without implementation of application I will not amplify the ambition of self actualisation