Who is the wisest of men? The Oracle said that no man is wiser than Socrates.
It has become a rule to consider Socrates as an inventor of Socratic method. It is a form of asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to clarify ideas. Let's follow the way of Socratic method for learning his wisdom.
So, my question is: what is the meaning of the story about Socrates' advice to a young guy who asked if he should get married? The answer was: "By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher."
As for me, it looks like Socrates advises to get married and be happy but unintelligent or wise but unhappy! Take your option! But, friends, why has Socrates pointed out philosopher as an ultimate aim of unhappy marriage? Why not a painter, a poet, a singer or political figure? And why a wife should be the root cause for chasing something in the life?
Many historians think that Socrates was not lucky in his family life. They portrayed Socrates' wife Xanthippe as a horrible woman. She provoked and made angry almost everyone. Nevertheless, there was a method why Socrates chose his wife: because of her argumentative nature! He said, "I know very well, that if I can tolerate her spirit, I can with ease attach myself to every human being else." Thus, it appears that Socrates got a good training partner for honing his philosophical thoughts.
But I am sure he could dig deeper. Thus, there is little known about his three sons. By his own words, Socrates had little to do with their upbringing. It was his omission.
I was on friendly terms with one guy in my early twenties. He was cheerful, careless, fashionable young fellow. He liked parties, events, fun and dating. Then my friend met a red-haired girl at the party and married her. Our roads parted.
We met by chance recently. We talked about one thing and another. I was surprised of what he said: he had published a book about business. I was surprised because I knew him well; he didn't have passion for writing or even reading books. So, I asked some questions about his book and got standard as for business books answers. I like business books. Some of them are interesting and motivational. Of course, my friend's book didn't need my approval. Anyway, I appreciate his work and hope he will find his audience. Then I asked about his life in general. He told me about his family. He has two daughters. The older one is 15 years old. She takes dance lessons. He showed me her photos on the phone.
You know this entire woman's staff for the dances: make up, hairdo, shot open dress, high heels. And friends, do you remember Britney Spears' song "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman"? This song resonated with the photos. His daughter pretended to be more like a woman rather than a girl. Don't get me wrong. There was nothing immoral on the pictures. It was just about dances but I know the dark past of my friend and his dating affairs in his early twenties! So, I asked him: "Buddy, how do you deal with that?"
"Don't ask me! Don't ask!" he cried. "Look, look at him! This guy embraces her with passion!"
There were two teenagers on that picture. I didn't ask about a guy who was embracing his daughter. Maybe it was her dancing partner or classmate. I don't know. But my friend was confused.
He said: "Do you understand now how I could write my book? I used my sleepless nights."
I see, brother. You didn't mention you younger daughter. So, I am waiting for your next book.
Friends, you have, undoubtedly, heard the proverb "even a wise man stumbles." Maybe Socrates stumbled and could not accomplish his method. You don't need to be Greek philosopher to meet people who will help you with pleasure gain knowledge, sharpen you skills and abilities. These people are our nearest relatives, friends who are engaged in the process of preventing us from failing, making mistakes of pursuing our dreams. They love to criticize us as much as possible. Of course, it is for our own good! What would we do without such relatives and friends like them?!
Fellow Toastmasters and guests, remember: wise people are made. They are tolerant people. Therefore add value to Socrates' practice. Think of the people who inspire you the most. Very often, the best people for you are those who frustrate and annoy you the most. Look for the positive in them and you'll probably find it! This is a way of being wise.