If a person says, "The only thing that I know is that I know nothing." What exactly does that mean (not metaphorically), literally?

If the only thing they know is that they know nothing, then they know 1 thing. (in which case: nothing ≠ 1.)

But looks like they are saying they don't know anything at all. So, they know exactly 0 things.

If they knew nothing, then they obviously wouldn't have known that they know the fact that they do not know anything at all.

Is this a self-contradicting statement, which meaning is the logical one? It looks like the statement is true AND false at the same time. I have never taken any philosophy classes so forgive my ineptness but I thought I'd ask. I tried to find and read similar questions but it's a bit too technical for me and I couldn't say if it's the same concept or not.

  • Socrates denied the possibility of knowledge of the sensible world. cambridge.org/core/journals/canadian-journal-of-philosophy/… – user47436 Aug 14 '20 at 7:32
  • "The only thing that I know is that I know nothing." has several interpretation. 1. I know that I know nothing, because I can’t trust my brain. 2. I know that I know nothing, because the physical world isn’t real 3. I know that I know nothing, because information can be uncertain 4. I know that I know nothing – the paradox 5. I know that I know nothing – a motto of humility reasonandmeaning.com/2019/11/03/… – user47436 Aug 14 '20 at 7:43
  • "The only thing that I know is that I know nothing." means you compare theory of knowledge with the theory of wisdom. In the theory of Knowledge you can know the staff but still be folish , because you might be too confident with what you know . In the theory of wisdom you can't be folish and wise at same time , becase being wise means knowing your limitation, incuding knowing when you don't know youtu.be/SwAq52cl_-A – user47436 Aug 14 '20 at 8:44
  • @HassanJolany thank you so much! This is a very good explanation and also very interesting. – elegantcomplexity Aug 14 '20 at 23:02

Socrates admits his ignorance, implicitly attacking pretenders to knowledge — namely the sophists, who were paid teachers of rhetoric, and from whom the earliest philosophers struggled to distinguish themselves. Socrates never took payment for his teaching. More generally this is the sense in which Socrates claims the oracle named him as the “wisest”: by knowing his own ignorance, and not pretending to know what he cannot, he is capable of learning — of becoming wise. He is therefore the wisest of his countrymen... precisely by knowing the limits of his wisdom, and not claiming to be able to teach what cannot be taught. Nevertheless Socrates has a number of positive ethical and methodological doctrines, about the nature of the gods and the good and being itself; but the idea is that these are derived from honest questioning with an interlocutor, and finding what “language itself” has to say if it is to make any sense; these doctrines emerge dialectically, as it were organically, rather than being disclosed as though they were always known by him to be true.

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