” The unexamined life is not worth living” - Socrates (Apology, 37e)
What is a good life? I have been thinking about this question since I was 18. If you search for “what is a good life” on google, you will find more than 4 billions results. This is one of the most asked questions in the world with an average 2 millions searches on google every month. Why is that? Because nobody really understands what a good life is. When we talk about a good drink, the “good” refers to the taste; when we talk about a good knife, the “good” refers to the sharpness. So what does the “good” in “good life” really refers to? If you notice that you feel reluctant to get off from your bed every morning, you may want to start to think about, “what is wrong?”. Socrates’ idea of good life may shed some light for you.
Born in 469BC in Athens, Socrates was one of the ugliest men. Although he was born to be less advantageous in terms of outlook, his inner beauty shines through Athens. Even one of the most handsome gay men fantasizes having sex with him! You may wonder, “what made this ugly philosopher so charming?”
What is Socrates’ view on life? His top quote of life, “the unexamined life is not worth living”, is what made him famous. In his late life, he was accused of corrupting the youth and was sentenced to a death penalty. Instead of worrying about his life as one would expect , at the trial Socrates never feared death for a single moment. He told the juries, “ the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living“.
What does he mean by an unexamined life is not worth living? Most people have heard about this quote without knowing what it means. This is an example of “unexamined life”. Knowing only the superficial side of things, according to Socrates, is defined as a lack of “examination”. What we know the least about, according to Socrates, is the “true self”. We have been looking at the external world all our lives without examining our inner self for a second. Socrates believed we are a total stranger of our inner self. Only through examination, we understand our true self, our true needs, our true want on what we want to achieve in life. Socrates believed only an examined life can be called a good life, but not a life in blind pursuit of money, social status and other superficial body needs.
So are you ready to embark the journey of an “examined life”? Hope this article “Socrates On Life” can help you on that.