Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Question On The Unexamined Life

Socrates is quoted, in Plato’s Apology, as saying “I tell you that to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living”.

A recent discussion of this passage, among Contributors, lead to a discussion of whether the study of philosophy can be justified. Several Contributors were put on the spot; so, to give them and others a chance to develop considered responses, the question being put forward is can the protracted academic study of philosophy be justified? Further, is the unexamined life not worth living?


Pete said...

Good post.

The distinction that our current sage-like master (i.e. Joe) made during the discussion is also worth mentioning. That is, the distinction between public and private justifications for philosophy.

I can think of numerous public justifications for why our society should support people studying philosophy. Most of which I think are worthwhile. There are also a few reasons which I also include in the list not because I personally hold them to have merit but simply because I tend to think that they might help convince others.

Private justifications are another matter. I would not expect my own reasons for studying philosophy to be attractive to anyone else. So I don't expect to be able to convince anyone to study it ever.

nyrhtak said...

In terms of private justification, i think one would live a very poor quality of life with an unexamined life.
If you get to the end of your life on your death bed and you can't say "well good job" or "dam i lived a shitty life" then what was the point of existing? You just were, you didn't live.

michael said...

If I am then I am something. If I can say "that was fun", which has absolutely no reference to me whatsoever, would one not say of me that I spent my time well?