Socrates and Guilty Knowledge (a/k/a . . . In Which Socrates Would be Convicted of Possession in Virginia)

In The Apology, Socrates, on trial for his life, says of an unnamed politician: “This man, on one hand, believes that he knows something, while not knowing. On the other hand, I, equally ignorant, do not believe.” Socrates then concludes that he himself is the wisest man alive because he alone recognizes that he lacks any knowledge.  Socrates believed that people never truly know anything and instead only have a degree of confidence.

Socrates was then then sentenced to death.

According to Virginia Code § 18.2-250(A)(a): “It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance.” The Virginia Court of Appeals recently got to test this code section’s definition of “knowingly” in Christian v. Commonwealth, 2012 Va. App. LEXIS 47 (2011).  Did the Virginia Court of Appeals accept the Socratic view of knowledge and undo, in some small part, the injustice once done to the wisest Athenian?  Of course not. That would be silly. Continue reading