Plato: the Examined Life

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  • Topic: Plato, The Examined Life, Socrates
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  • Published : October 13, 2011
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In Plato’s Apology, Socrates states that, “The unexamined life is not worth living” (38a). I am using the knowledge learned through hours of class discussion of Socrates from the Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito to explain what Socrates means by “the examined life,” and why he thinks that it is the only life worth living, and why he thinks that it can be lived only with others, in Athens. In doing so, I have found that the truth sought by Socrates is much more about the journey that one takes while seeking answers to the questions that revolve around an “examined” life. Whether right or wrong, Socrates himself seemed entirely convinced that the arguments he established should hold. Thus he concluded that it would be wrong for him to escape from prison even though the charges against him were false. As always, his actions conformed to the depth of his reasoning and Socrates chose to honor his commitment to truth and morality even though the decision cost him his life. It is at this point that I began my search for the answers to three distinct questions to which Socrates seeks answers: What is the examined life? Why is the examined life the only life worth living? How does the examined life affect and involve others? In Euthyphro, Socrates searches for the answer to what the examined life is via a critical and baffling conversation with Euthyphro concerning piety. At debate was the definition of “piety” that Euthyphro gives as an answer. Socrates, in responding to Euthyphro, demands an answer that delves into a definition that provides the essence of the word, and Socrates, through critical thinking, questions Euthyphro to the point of decimating the arguments presented in the points made. Euthyphro suggests that piety can be defined as “what the gods all love” (9e). Socrates objects. Even if all the gods agree about which things are pious, that doesn’t tell us what piety is. (Even a poll of the gods is just a lot of opinions.) Socrates convinces Euthyphro to...
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