Q: It is common history that someone asked the oracle at Delphi if anyone is wiser than Socrates and the oracle answered that none was wiser. Socrates himself thought it to be a riddle. I was wondering if this story is true and if Michael could elaborate on this. Anything important or interesting.
A: Socrates was wisest because he was keenly aware of what he did not know. He lived in questions rather than pat answers that satisfy most people. It was something of a riddle, but it was also meant somewhat seriously. The answer was meant to cause people to question what wisdom really is. Of course, that was Socrates' approach to it. Others just wanted to know who the "contest winner" was.
Q: Yes, who's the wisest man on earth at the moment?
A: There are many women and men who know that they do not know, who live in the questions rather than in pat answers. We would not know how to rank them, because there are different strengths and weaknesses from person to person. However, we would say that there are probably thousands of "wisest" people alive today, who are in touch with the eternal while, at the same time, living heartily in the mundane. You have probably not heard of most of them, but some are brilliant writers and teachers who pierce the dark with their insights. They range from early young to late old souls; old souls do not have a monopoly on wisdom. However, we'd dare say that the bell curve peaks at late mature. This is a time when many have worked hard to throw up their preconceptions and live authentically. We would define wisdom as having an alive, evolving mind and heart that pierce through surfaces to see the underlying dynamics, with compassion. It is not simply possessing intellectual understanding. It has a keen appreciation of the human condition, as well as the eternal. The answer to Socrates was not meant to imply that there were none others on earth in his league at that time; it only was relevant to that society, which was advanced in some ways but rigid in others. He was willing to rock the boat. As the most prominent local boat-rocker, he was entitled to be called the wisest.
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