Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

Topics: Religion, Morality, Meaning of life, Psychology, Philosophy of life, Plato / Pages: 8 (1859 words) / Published: Oct 29th, 2005
Goal of the Course: The general goal of this course is to consider what philosophers call the Socratic commitment. Socrates, a Greek philosopher, 470-399 B.C., was placed on trial in Athens because he questioned the political, moral, and religious practices of Athens. He gave his own defense which his pupil Plato recorded as The Apology (The Defense). When he was convicted for impiety to the gods and for corrupting the youth because he had taught the young adults to question, he was given the opportunity to propose his own penalty. He refused to give up his mission as the one calling Athens to the examined way of life. He refused to leave Athens, if the condition were to be that he had to give up teaching. He summed up his defense in the following way:

If I say that I cannot hold my peace (by giving up my mission) because that would be to disobey the god, you will think that I am not in earnest and will not believe me. And if I tell you that no greater good can happen to a man than to discuss human excellence every day and the other matters about which you have heard me arguing and examining myself and others, and that an unexamined life is not worth living, then you will believe me still less. But that is so, my friends, though it is not easy to persuade you. (Apology)

The general goal of the course is to explore the personal and social meaning of the statement, the unexamined life is not worth living. The live in which I let other people tell me what the questions of life are, the life in which I let other people give me their answers without my thinking through to my own answers, is the unexamined life. Socrates is saying that the life in which I ask my own questions and answer them for myself in a reasonable manner is a more valuable life than the unexamined life. The examined life is so much better than an unexamined life that Socrates is willing to die for that value.

I want to insist so much on your personal involvement in this course that I choose

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