The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

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Socrates was considered by many to be the wisest man in ancient Greece. While he was eventually condemned for his wisdom, his spoken words are still listened to and followed today. When, during his trial, Socrates stated that, “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Plato 45), people began to question his theory. They began to wonder what Socrates meant with his statement, why he would feel that a life would not be worth living. To them, life was above all else, and choosing to give up life would be out of the picture. They did not understand how one would choose not to live life just because he would be unable to examine it. Socrates felt that if he was unable to examine life, he would not be really living. To Socrates, living meant being able to question the world around him. Examining life gives one freedom. Once one examines himself and understands who he is, he can take control of his life. Socrates believed that the ability to ask, to examine, and to understand would make a life whole. He believed that the purpose of life was to grow, both physically and spiritually. Being able to explore and understand would lead to a deeper understanding of the world around us as well as a deeper understanding of ourselves. (Plato 46) Socrates felt that, above all, one should be a good citizen and always do the right thing (Plato 18). However, many in his time did not worry about doing what was correct. Socrates realized this, and understood that they did not care to look into their actions and beliefs. Their first thoughts were on the goals that they had, such as money and pleasure, rather than the thought of whether or not the goals they held were actually what should have been considered important and right (Plato 26). Socrates knew that, unless they took the time to question their lifestyles, they would never do the right thing. By living a life that was being examined, the citizens would be living a life that was, for the most part, also right. Socrates believed that a life that was not right was not worth living, which is why he also felt as though an unexamined life would also be not worth living. When Socrates was brought to trial for the corruption of the city’s youth he knew he had done nothing wrong. He had lived his life as it should be lead, and did what he ne... ... middle of paper ... ... when he is discussing the unexamined life. When Socrates mentions the oracle, he is explaining how one can believe he knows all but still can question life. Although he believes that a smarter man will not be found, Socrates still questions and examines the life he leads. This is the basic concept of philosophy, to try to examine and understand what is going on in life. Socrates understands that without this questioning, there would be no philosophy or a worthwhile life. (Plato 25) Socrates was a wise man who realized that life was not something that could be easily understood. He knew that questioning life would lead to a stronger conception of life and reality. When he stated that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Plato 45), he truly meant that without questioning life, one would not be truly living. Actions would have no understanding of being right or wrong. For Socrates, a man who believed that life should be based on what was right, there would be no greater wrongdoing. Works Cited Plato. Apology. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational, 1977.
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