What is Wisdom (According to Socrates)

What is Wisdom According to Socrates

What is wisdom? The best way to dig into this subject is to look at what is wisdom according to Socrates?

Socrates defined wisdom as deeper knowledge of life; something spiritual and way beyond the everyday realm of human thoughts and understanding.

Many consider Socrates one of the wisest people to walk this planet and his theories and insights into life is startling if you consider the fact that he lived more than 2400 years ago.

For one, it is something that is valued in virtually all cultures throughout the world and throughout the ages wise people lead the way to a deeper understanding of life.

Wisdom is not about having mere knowledge. It’s much beyond that and in many ways knowledge itself is not even necessary to have wisdom. Wisdom is an inner understanding that often contradicts intellectual knowledge.

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. 

– Socrates

Wisdom is almost always beyond the obvious and the conventional. When we recognize a great wisdom it is as if we see ‘a light’ inside our minds – a special feeling inside which leads us to a greater understanding.

Wisdom is not something you attain as much as it is something you grow into.

For most of us wisdom is synonymous with an old man and a long flowing grey beard. Although it is true that wisdom comes with age, you don’t need to be old to be wise.

Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding

For me all great wisdom is spiritual by nature. All great insights into life are insights that transcends the physical world and our mere observations.

Real wisdom is the property of God, and… human wisdom has little or no value.

– Socrates

This is a great explanation to what is wisdom according to Socrates. It’s metaphysical (beyond the physical) and therefore it often contradicts conventional thinking.

Wisdom is about seeing past the obvious appearances of things.

When you do this you cannot help but to recognize something bigger and greater at work behind everything in life.

This great invisible force that some call God is not confined to spiritual thinkers, but is the very force of life that flows through everything.

The true meaning of wisdom is having an intimate knowledge of God and the spiritual and metaphysical dimension that will help you see past the appearances of things to reveal a greater meaning behind it all.

What Socrates meant with wisdom being the property of God is that we can only speculate, explore and try and peer into the mind of God to really understand life.

For centuries humankind was convinced that the earth was flat. The greatest mind alive formulated all sorts of theories about the edge of the world and the fear of falling off this edge terrified explorers.

The wisest men alive at the time where made to look like fools when the true nature of the earth was discovered.

So much of what we “know” is true will eventually become a lie once we uncover and understand more about life.

The real lesson of wisdom according to Socrates here is to not be attached to “truths” because we can only speculate and trust the science at the time.

The vastness of the universe we live in has so many secrets yet to be discovered that we can never allow ourselves to be attached to “facts”.

Have an open mind. Be willing to be wrong and maintain your thirst for a deeper understanding of life.

Wisdom is Avoiding All Thoughts That Weaken You

In Dr. Wayne Dyer’s 10 Secrets For Success And Inner Peace, he offers a great insight into wisdom. One of his secrets for success and inner peace is a definition for wisdom.

He says that wisdom is avoiding all thoughts that weaken you. This is mirrored by Socrates’ statement that…

Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.

– Socrates

Every thought you have will either strengthen or weaken you. On this deeper metaphysical level of life, your thoughts create your life.

When you listen to people’s everyday conversations then this gives us some great insights.

How many people spend their lives discussing others?

In fact, you don’t have to look much further to understand why people who are caught up in daily gossip have the lives they have.

Even people who spend their days b!tching about events will be stuck in a life of “average minds”.

What Socrates calls “strong minds” are people who can live beyond people and events. They are in control of their own thoughts.

As long as your energy and your attention is controlled and dictated by people and events you are never in charge of your own thoughts.

Having the ability to ‘see’ and to realize this is what wisdom is really about.

Look at your own day-to-day conversations.

Is it dominated by:

  • Talking (bitching) about other people > co-workers, your mother-in-law or even politicians
  • Talking (bitching) about events > how terrible the world is or even just small talk
  • Talking about ideas > interesting ideas to improve your life, your family, your workplace, your community and the world
  • Talking about your goals, dreams and desires > even if its just to close friends and family

What you talk about most often will usually be an accurate reflection of where you are in your life according to Socrates’ assessment.

The mind is everything; what you think you become.

– Socrates

It also reflects what dominates your thoughts and what you give your energy and your attention to.

Virtually every spiritual text refers to the power of thought and how we create our lives through our thoughts.

This great law, the Law Of Attraction is a universal law in the universe that dictates what we attract and create in our lives.

Learning to distinguish and then to avoid the thoughts that weaken you will give you a greater sense of power and authentic energy in your life.

Weak thoughts like anger, hate and jealousy always weaken you because it requires a counter force.

Thoughts of love, peace and joy will only strengthen you because it never takes any energy from you – it only ‘adds’ energy to your life.

In this sense wisdom will allow you to enjoy a greater sense of inner peace and it will help you to move right past conflict and confrontation.

So often we focus on what’s wrong in our lives in an attempt to ‘fix’ it. What Socrates’ wisdom teaches us is to shift our thinking from from what’s wrong, to what’s right.

Carl Jung observed that “what you resist persists. What you think about, will only recreate itself in your life experience even if it is what you don’t want.

How To Get More Wisdom

The true meaning of wisdom is to have the insight that’s beyond the obvious. It’s learning to see that beyond the surface level of life experiences, there is something greater and bigger at work.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

– Socrates

This invisible (yet knowable) life force is intimately connected to you and your thoughts.

What you think about expands in your life and learning to avoid that which weakens you will allow you to cultivate your own authentic power and ultimately create for yourself the kind of life you really want to live.

With wisdom you gain this insight. With wisdom you start to understand how your inner world create your outer world.

When you surrender to the demands of your ego you gain wisdom because the ego holds on to what you know and believe (know to be true).


With a passion for spirituality, self discovery, and understanding this life, Neod spends his time musing about what is, what could be and what might come about. After writing for 20 years he's still growing, learning, exploring and sharing with love, joy and compassion.

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