How Obtaining a Doctorate Humbled Me
The only thing I know for sure is how little I know. —Socrates
It has been nearly three weeks since I was defended my dissertation, was hooded, and walked the line in my doctoral regalia. Since then, people have congratulated me, sent me cards, and called me “Dr.” Even my children referred to me as “Dr. Daddy” here and there. It’s all been fun, but the newness of being Dr. Hunter has swiftly worn off.
My family and I had dinner with some good friends last week. As we conversed, they enjoyed picking on me when I’d state something wrong or confuse the facts. I told them that my brain had shut down from academic thinking and that I didn’t need to act like a doctor, which is quiet true. Since graduating, my mind has been on auto-pilot. I’ve binged-watched a lot of television, and have read very little. I’m enjoying a mental break … not “breakdown,” but a “rest” … a “Sabbath,” if you will.
For my part, here’s what I want people to know about me, the good doctor. Obtaining this degree—the highest degree achievable—I still suffer from a great degree of ignorance. There’s so much that I simply do not know.
I’ve read a lot of Plato’s works in which Socrates converses with his interlocutors about deep subjects. As a matter of fact, just yesterday I was discussing Euthyphro with my fourteen year old daughter. The Euthyphro Dilemma pretty much asks,
Is the holy approved by the gods because it’s holy, or is it holy because it’s approved?
While my daughter and I conversed about this point, I informed her Socrates knew that he didn’t know everything. Because he didn’t know everything, he asked questions to arrive at truth.
There’s still so much that I don’t know, and higher learning has only validated this point for me. Some PhD’s are rather arrogant and boast of their learning, but I simply couldn’t envision myself doing that. My doctorate, while an achievement, only validates just how much I don’t know. It has kept me humble, so I continue to remain the student who searches the deep issues of the divine and physical.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. —C. S. Lewis