Socrates was known for being one ofthe most influential thinkers of all time. Socrates never wrote down a single word so in reality all we know aboutSocrates is what other people tell us. Socrates is most famous for being afigure in Plato’s dialogue called “The apology.” According to Plato, Socratesonly cared about asking questions about moral knowledge. It all started when theoracle of Delphi declared that no one was wiser than Socrates, baffled by thisclaim Socrates went on seeking for knowledge from people that claimed to haveit but while people thought that they had good answers, Socrates crossedexamination showed them they were wrong.
This of course made them look likefools and also made a lot of people of Athens hate him. Socrates claimed thathe was wise and at least he knew that he did not know everything. Even when he wasfaced with the death sentence, he refused to stop philosophizing. For Socrates,he thought that fearing the unknown things like death was another thing that wepretend to know but we don’t. About2400 years ago, Socrates was put in trial by his fellow Athenians. He wascharged for corrupting the youth and for not acknowledging the God of the state.Socrates in trial spoke on his own defense to explain and justify his actions.
Socratesphilosophy was to ask people questions about what makes for a just society orhow is it possible to know something. He sums up his attitude with the remark “theunexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates remark was a strong claim forthe people of Athens and seem to imply that unless you engage in self-examinationyour life was worthless.
Socrates couldhave been correct by saying that claim but what about the people who did notengage in self-examination, could we really say that such people could havebeen better off not being born. ForSocrates and his colleagues, self-examination was not a matter of getting intouch with your feelings or emotions, or finding your true self rather it was aboutyour values, aim towards life, and your goals and about what type of person youwanted to be and how you choose to live your best life. Socrates wanted for people to be able toanswer questions such as why such things are important to them instead of justsaying that they are with no reason or explanation. For Socrates seeking such hard explanationscan force people to question their own principles and living a life found in aconsistent set of principles can give one the most satisfaction. Rather thansomeone just going with what people tell them about the world and they takethat as their final answer and never go out of their way to search the what if’s.Socrates would agree that this person is not fully examining life. To examinethe world that’s around us, we become fully human.
Socratesclaim is a challenge to all of us to live a life guided by reason. Every day wemake decisions of how we go about living our life, we make choices in how wespend our time, we make choices of the people we hang out with, we make choicesin how we interact with others, or even how we spend our money. Any action we take in regulating our life ashuman beings usually involve choices. The choices we make are either using ourcapacity of reason or are directed from emotion without any conscience thoughtinvested in our decisions. Function well as a human being is to leverage thisfaculty to its utmost capability. In doing so we will cultivate life that wecan flourish and be happy.
We can live the examined life, in not doing so wewill live a life that is unexamined in which happiness and flourish is injeopardy.