On the origins of ‘The Unexamined Life’
In conversation with my dad yesterday he mentioned that he didn’t know where the phrase “The Unexamined Life,” came from but he was sure it was deep. Come to that, I didn’t know where it came from, so I decided to make sure I had cribbed it from someplace cool.
And I did! Here it is, in Apology, Plato’s account of the trial of Socrates.
“Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say that the greatest good of a 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 — that you are still less likely to believe.”
It’s shocking to me that I managed to snatch this one right out of the air, because I would have told you I spent my sophomore year in Philosophy class doing a crossword puzzle and seething about being surrounded by moonbats. Evidently somewhere along the line I did the reading.
So here’s an odd list.
Things about which Socrates and I agree:
- Being a smartass is a divine command.
Things about which Socrates and I disagree:
- That you need to examine every aspect of your life in order to make it worth living.
And in the great spirit of philosophy classes everywhere, I leave you with the following essay question:
What would Socrates – advocate of the examined life- have thought of wearable technology?