The Instigator
WarrenV
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
jyongchul
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

All I know, is that I know nothing.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
jyongchul
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,167 times Debate No: 18450
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (6)

 

WarrenV

Pro

This debate will question whether the quote "All I know, is that I know nothing", famously said by Socrates, can be considered true.

It will consist of 3 rounds (Excluding this round because, this round is simply a brief overview) and voting will be open for 1 week once the debate has ended.

You will have 24 hours to respond to each argument and you will only be allowed a maximum of 6,000 characters.

In the first 'round' (this one) - Just place a simple comment or something else, the debate will start in the next round .

Good luck to my opponent!
jyongchul

Con

"All I know is that I know nothing." said by Socrates is a false statement.
Debate Round No. 1
WarrenV

Pro

Thank you to my opponent for accepting the challenge. I look forward to this debate;

My first point in this argument is this: We cannot rely on our own senses to 'know' anything. Seeing and touching is not believing - you may feel it as being real, that's entirely your opinion but the fact is you cannot prove that your senses are trustworthy because they simply are not. Let's take a dream for example, you cannot tell a dream when you are having it - you assume it is real because you can still feel, you can see and hear. To an extent you could possibly taste (only some people have experienced it). So you assume that your senses are right and that you are awake, don't you? As we can see the Senses have clearly not been trustworthy because you don't realise it was a dream until you have woken up.

You then may contradict me and say 'Your senses can be trustworthy, because you know when you are NOT having a dream'. Unfortunately you'd be wrong. An old Chinese sage called 'Chuang-tzu' once said: "Once I dreamed I was a butterfly. Now I am unsure whether I am a human who dreamed I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a human." This proves that no-one can establish between and reality, so we do not know whether we are currently living in 1 big dream or not.

My next point... "True Knowledge". Do you think that we can possibly know anything 100% ? Let's take for example.. the laws of physics. I don't actually know a lot about them but I do know that according to the laws of physics, bees should be unable to fly. Bees defy the laws of physics, meaning we cannot have true knowledge of what 'the laws of physics' are. Another example would be Einstein's theory of relativity - it states that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, yet scientists have recently discovered after 3 years of tests that there are neutrinos that have broken the speed of light..proving physics wrong again.

You see, we cannot have true knowledge we can only have BELIEF. We can only believe that there is a God, We can only believe that animals cannot make rational decisions, We can only believe that plants can't experience pain and so on. Seeing is not KNOWING it is BELIEVING.

My final point for this round: It is getting late now, so I will give the rest of my points in a different round. Here I will simply ask you a question...

Give me an example of something which you have 100% true knowledge on. (E.g. I have 100% knowledge that ...).

I look forward to the argument you post, and I can't wait to discuss more points later.
jyongchul

Con

Although the claim "all I know is that I know nothing" can be true, it is more likely that the claim is false. Socrates was the educated scholar of his time.

When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself: I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know. (Apology, 21d)

Socrates claimed to have learned rhetoric from Aspasia of Miletus, the lover of Pericles (Plato, Menexenus); and to have learned erotic from the priestess Diotima of Mantinea (Plato, Symposium), and music from teacher Connus. It is not certain who were Socrates's teachers in philosophy, but he seems to have been acquainted with the doctrines of Parmenides, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, and the atomists. He was widely known for his intellectual powers even before he was 40, when, according to Plato's report of Socrates's speech in the Apology, the oracle at Delphi pronounced him the wisest man in Greece. Therefore, for him to truly not know that he knew nothing is a false statement. Rather, because he was wise, he said he knew nothing, which makes "all I know is that I know nothing" a false statement.
Debate Round No. 2
WarrenV

Pro

Interesting Response.

Let me first criticize/criticise this point; "...the oracle at Delphi pronounced him the wisest man in Greece." The oracle ( a person who communicated with the God's I think) is now known to be a very 'unlikely' source or prophet. The oracle would often 'give wisdom' which made no sense - some philosophers managed to interpret it, but in many different ways so there was no 1 conclusion. As we can see in modern society, people who claim to talk to the 'God's' are not seem as powerful ... They're seen as insane.

Besides, let me bring up the point that oracles can give PROPHECIES, which are predictions... and here we end up again at the 100% True knowledge idea. I realise/realize that oracle's also claimed to give 'truths', but they can only be beliefs... For example, if the 'quote' came from the 'God's', Saying that God's exist is BELIEF. Also when the oracle said he was the wisest man in Greece...that's also a belief. She/He didn't know everything, no-one does.

My next point: Intelligence vs Knowledge. Intelligence is different to knowledge, for example. Define Intelligence? Taking an IQ test doesn't prove whether you're smart or not, being able to make a prediction doesn't make you intelligent and knowing everything there is about history doesn't make you intelligent. It makes you well educated.

Here is a quick definition of Intelligence: The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. To use the word 'Knowledge' in the same sentence as 'Intelligence' means it cannot be similar. Knowledge, is experience. Knowing everything there is to possibly know, and experiencing every feeling on this earth is absolutely impossible, No-one can have full knowledge of everything. They can have intelligence, but not 100% intelligence either, both are not possible.

Next Point: "Wisest Man": Socrates may have been very well educated, he may have had a clear understanding of the world and the complexity of it. But when he is claimed to be a wise man, it is probably in reference to 'Well educated'. Anyone can be well educated about the world, it is how society has developed over time - children are now born into a world where education is thrust upon them. They are made to BELIEVE everything that is taught.

So when he is described as the 'Wise man' - he simply had intelligence/education of the world, but he doesn't KNOW how everything works, how the universe was designed, if everything in the world has a 'final cause' (Another topic of philosophy - I won't explain). In fact, he really does know nothing ... even if he existed.

To sum up those paragraphs: Socrates had A LOT of Intelligence - Which he was made to belief by other famous Greeks. NOT KNOWLEDGE (Definition of knowledge: Information and skills acquired through experience. He could only have Knowledge through experience e.g. By physical seeing God, could you say.. I HAVE 100% KNOWLEDGE THAT GOD EXISTS!)

Final Point: Just to note. Although the oracle claimed he was the wisest man in Greece, Socrates denied this claim. He was simply very opinionated.

So, Opinions, Knowledge and Intelligence are completely different.

I look forward to the final round :)
jyongchul

Con

He might have not known everything about the world, but he knew enough to teach and educate Aristotle, Xenophon, Plato, and many tyrants. The students of Socrates worked both on exercising their perceptions of Socrates teachings in politics and also on developing many new philosophical schools of thought. Some of Athens' controversial and anti-democratic tyrants were contemporary or posthumous students of Socrates. They were Alcibiades and Critias. Critias' cousin, Plato would go on to found the Academy in 385 BC. Aristotle went on to tutor Alexander the Great. Aristotle found his own school in 335 BC- the Lyceum, whose name now means an educational institution like the Academy found by Plato.
Socrates invented the Socratic Method (method of elenchus), a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving an oppositional discussion in which the defense of one point of view is pitted against the defense of another; one participant may lead another to contradict him in some way, strengthening the inquirer's own point.
The Socratic Method was used in "All I know is that I know nothing" said by Socrates. The impreciseness of "All I know that I know nothing" 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. Apology written by Plato explains Socrates' side of the story:
When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself: I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know. (Apology, 21d)
Socrates, who claims to know nothing, is wiser than this man who claims to know something. It is not that Socrates truly doesn't know anything, but because he used the Socratic Method he led the man to contradict with himself, which strengthened Socrates own point. The statement "All I know is that I know nothing" is a technique that was used to strengthen his point to prove that he is in fact wiser, but the statement itself is a false statement. For Socrates to truly not know that he knew nothing is a false statement. Rather, because he was wise, he said he knew nothing, which makes "all I know is that I know nothing" a false statement.
Debate Round No. 3
WarrenV

Pro

First: I am blissfully aware that Socrates educated a great number of people, the most obvious and important one Plato (Important, because Socrates never wrote down his 'work'. Everything we have learnt from Socrates is from what Plato has wrote). So you didn't need to inform me of this.

Second: In regards to the information you mentioned. I must point out again that Socrates EDUCATED these important philosophical figures, he did not give them knowledge. It is impossible to be given knowledge, you must experience it for yourself (I have already given a definition of knowledge, which included the word 'experience).A good way of viewing experiences, can be comparing them to ideas and impressions. An Impression (experience) such as burning your finger will leave an idea (thought) in your head of what it feels like to burn your finger. It is impossible for someone to place an experience/impression in your mind - technology is not that advanced.

Third: This is an addition. You may try to contradict me for what I just said about Impression > Experience = Knowledge! Well, sorry to disappoint you. Let's take an apple for example - you experience biting into an apple, it tastes sweet and juicy, applying this to the theory above would suggest that you have a lasting impression of an apple. Wrong. From biting into 1 apple, that doesn't mean you can apply it to all apples - some are sweet, others are sour and some are even bland. This shows that to gain knowledge, you need experience (Impressions) and 1 impression/experience isn't enough to gain knowledge.

Fourth: "The impreciseness of "All I know that I know nothing" 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 thing". Sort of proving my point there. One cannot know anything with absolute certainty.. That can basically be translated to "One does not have absolute knowledge". What is absolute knowledge? You can surely only have 100% knowledge of something...absolute knowledge cannot exist. You either have enough experiences of a situation to create Knowledge (which is impossible) or you only have a theory.

Let us take for an example Thomas Edison. He tested over 2,000 or 20,000 (I am unsure) light-bulbs in order to create the first working one. Do we have any idea of how to create energy (the laws of physics says it's impossible - but some 'items' do prove the laws of physics incorrect e.g. Bees shouldn't be able to fly according to physics)? No we don't - we're not even sure if it's possible. Therefore we cannot have Knowledge.

Finally: I have already explained the difference between being wise (educated) and having knowledge, so there is no point in me re-contradicting your final point.

That was interesting debate I had. Good luck in my opponents final argument and in the voting session.

Remember 1 thing before voting; Ask yourself, what do I actually know ? (Have knowledge about).
jyongchul

Con

According to Dictionary.com, education is the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life, and knowledge is defined as the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension.
I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting anyone whom I meet after my manner, and convincing him, saying: O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? (Apology, 29d-30a)
I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person. (Apology, 30a-b)
Socrates learned rhetoric from Aspasia of Miletus, the lover of Pericles (Plato, Menexenus), erotic from the priestess Diotima of Mantinea (Plato, Symposium), and music from teacher Connus. He was acquainted with the doctrines of Parmenides, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, and the atomists. He was widely known for his intellectual powers even before he was 40. Socrates is known for creating Socratic irony and the Socratic Method (elenchus). He taught numerous amounts of influential students like Aristotle, Xenophon, and Plato who later become great philosophers themselves. For him to truly not know that he knew nothing is a false statement. It is not that Socrates truly didn't know anything, but because he used the Socratic Method he led the opposition to contradict with himself, which strengthened Socrates own point. The statement "All I know is that I know nothing" is a technique that was used to strengthen his point to prove that he is in fact wiser, but the statement itself is a false statement. Rather, because he was wise, he said he knew nothing, which makes "all I know is that I know nothing" a false statement.

(Note: Opposite to what WarrenV has suggested to voters, we are not debating about the level of each voter's individual level of knowledge, which can vary widely. We are talking about Socrates and Socrates' level of knowledge).
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by dappleshade 5 years ago
dappleshade
WarrenVjyongchulTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Nice debate! Ultimately excessive use of caps by Pro lost conduct, and Con's case was well put.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
WarrenVjyongchulTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The debate was rambling, but Pro couldn't answer, if we couldn't know anything at all, then how did Socractes know that he knew nothing??
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
WarrenVjyongchulTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Socrates clearly knew many things. Pro depends upon a certain meaning of the resolution as implying "know" to mean "know with absolute certainty." Con made a plausible case that the assertion was rhetorical device, so Pro does not meet the burden of proof.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
WarrenVjyongchulTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I'm not sure if this was suppose to be a semantics argument. Based on the OP, it seemed like they actually wanted to debate the quote, not whether it is possible to truly know something. If the debate is about whether we can truly know something, this goes to Pro, but if it is about the quote, it goes to Con. I believe that the OP was clearly about the quote and not just using that as a catchy line, so points to Con.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
WarrenVjyongchulTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro makes a case for why we cannot know anything for a fact and gives examples such as dreams, physical laws and many others. Now those could have been refuted, but Con does not even attempt to do so, relying on the wording of the resolution rather than its intent. Pro's claims went unrefuted so arguments go to Pro.
Vote Placed by Lickdafoot 5 years ago
Lickdafoot
WarrenVjyongchulTied
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Reasons for voting decision: If you know nothing, then you cannot know that you know nothing. I think the quote was a play on words for that reason. Con shows this in round 2 and Pro doesn't effectively refute this.