Overlooked Value of the Unexamined Life:
“Is the examined life worth living? According to Socrates, it is not. Socrates does not consider any counterarguments in his famous claim in the Apology. In this paper, defend or criticize the claim that the unexamined life is not worth living via philosophical argument.”
This course seeks to bring forth concepts that have been suggested historically as methodical answers to the ultimate human question: what is the purpose of an individual’s life and how must we go about determining it? From the birth of philosophical thought, various intellectuals and scholars have weighed in on the issue, offering up their own conclusions. Socrates, most famously portrayed by the works of Plato, put a new spin on the topic when he suggested that the meaning of life is only attainable through self-reflection, thus implying that a very meditative person is essentially of greater value than a person who chooses not to contemplate himself/herself as thoroughly. This paper will strive to refute that claim, for I believe that the vast differences in reality amongst humanity are detrimental to the universality of the statement. Therefore, if the goal of philosophy is to be a universal standard, Socrates’ conclusion is not up-to-par, and effectively invalid.
In the Apology, despite being found guilty, before his condemnation Socrates is presented with the opportunity at freedom on the condition that he discontinues his philosophical inquiry and teaching. Knowing that he will almost certainly be sentenced to death or the remainder of his life in prison, he still refuses what many would consider an extremely generous offer. Socrates consciously chooses death over the opportunity to continue living minus all things philosophical (Plato, 29d). His reason: the unexamined life is not worth living. In the opinion of Socrates, the meaning of life is the quest for the perfection of one’s soul, and the method which should be employed in...
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