Erasmus and Plato on the Folly of Human Claims to Wisdom
In this presentation, I explain my analysis of Erasmus’ work Praise of Folly and Plato’s Apology of Socrates in order to explore the questions of the nature of wisdom and its purpose in human life. Although both philosophers tell different stories, they both fill their narratives with layers of irony and contradiction, enriching the discussion of these questions by demonstrating the complexity of wisdom in human life. Erasmus’ character Folly presents that everything in the world is foolishness, and so the good and the happy people are those that do not pretend to be wise, but rather are bold and content with themselves. Similarly, Plato’s characterization of Socrates argues that he has a sort of human wisdom, because he does not suppose he knows more than he does, but rather strives for the truth. While they agree on much, including the definition of wisdom as accepting one's human limitations in wisdom, how fear prevents one from achieving wisdom, and the superiority of divine wisdom over human wisdom, they also have a lot to say to each other through their texts. Socrates argues that wisdom is important to help one find the one moral truth, and Folly focuses on wisdom in order to live well and gain happiness in life.