Plato - Ideal of the Examined Life

Topics: The Examined Life, Plato, Reason Pages: 3 (937 words) Published: June 16, 2010
Human excellence; two very simple words that when placed next to each other can have completely different meanings, especially when we apply it individually. In the "Apology" by Plato, the character of Socrates is one of a man in his seventies who believes that his calling is to “discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear [him] examining [himself] and others...” Plato describes Socrates living a philosophical or examined life which overall implies the concept of human excellence. For him, human excellence is examining one's life and beliefs and determining how we can live well and overall live to ones ultimate potential. His notion of human excellence and the examination of one's life ultimately lead to truth and doing the right thing. However, his ideal of living the examined life is the equivalent of living a perfect and rational life. An ideal that is not relevant to our contemporary world or individuals simply because of human nature.

Human nature is the distinguished characteristics, ways of thinking, feeling and acting that each human has. These characteristics are shaped by the people and environment surrounding us and they are what completely prevent us from following one model or one concept of perfection.

In applying how Plato's belief is not practical today, I give the following example: Socrates describes that he will not hold his tongue to please others because "if [he] tells you that to do as you say would be a disobedience to the Gods, and therefore, [he] cannot hold [his] tongue". Here he is advocating that his message comes from the Gods. However, since before the time of Socrates, we have had people who do not believe in multiple Gods or any one God in particular; Atheist. How does the ideal of the philosophical/examined life that comes to Socrates as a message from the Gods be communicated to these people? This also entails people who believe in one God that may not bring the same message provided by the...
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