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The most beautiful thing about knowledge, apart from it
being a decision making tool, is that it humbles us. I don't mean academic knowledge or that which we gain from our professional background. I'm talking about that instinct you adopt as you examine yourself, as your experiences are painted on that elusive idiosyncratic canvas. The type of self taught knowledge that makes you unique and goes a long way to define your individuality. This kind of knowledge teaches us to reflect. The more we reflect and examine our selves and our lives, the more we realize that we need to be humbled by all the knowledge / wisdom in the world. Believe me, no one has a monopoly of knowledge. Socrates said it best, "The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know". Of course, over the last 24 centuries, Socrates, the legacy, has somewhat become synonymous with knowledge. He proved the need to examine our lives by living his the same. He said, "All I know is that I know nothing". This may be the most humble statement that, I think anyone could ever make. That, I believe, extensively describes his character and therefore boosted his quest for the ultimate truth. Psychologist gave us the perfect analogy in the word: Tabula Rasa - meaning Blank Slate. It is up to us to figure out how exactly we can make our experiences shape our idiosyncrasies and ultimately define the person we are today. This is what Socrates advocated for when he said, "An unexamined life is not worth living". The earliest part of his life was spent following the instruction of his tutors, mentors, parents and other notable guardians in his life. However, he understood that at one point in time one has to begin to think for one's self. Question authority, not out of defiance, but out of the quest for truth and that ultimate self. Do not get comfortable with the status quo. Keep searching... My father often joked that, "Getting a BA degree means to Begin Again, an MA degree means there's 'More After', and a Ph.D. degree means we have to 'Push Harder Daily'." I think it is most interesting to note that, Socrates lost his life just to prove this point. He had a choice between denouncing all his teachings (Doing your own thinking and questioning authority) and be exiled (or given life imprisonment) or he could stick to his guns and be sentenced to death by a jury of 500 of his fellow Athenians. He decided that if living meant all his teachings would be stigmatized then life itself is not worth living. Interesting! I find this ridiculously fascinating. The perfect example of a man preferring to die on his feet than live on his knees. To have this much conviction that life is not worth living if you are living on someone else's terms, one must have a very solid grasp of these quintessential questions: how to live, who am I, what am I? etc. We cannot afford to just exist, beckoning to the call of circumstances and situations beyond our control. The only answer to such a conundrum is to do a constant, daily self examination of my purpose in life and what I want to accomplish at the end of the day. Understanding that if I should die today, I would be happy knowing that I lived my life, I did not just exist on earth.
Reference: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy