The Worth of an Examined Life

The most basic mode of learning is through imitation. A child would imitate what others are doing andor saying. Language, culture, beliefs and traditions are all passed down from one generation to the other through learning. The ancients have left footprints on the path that they took. More often than not, these similar passages are also taken or followed by the youth. It is believed to be a rational choice to follow what was already proven and to accept what was already known. Through this manner, elders and ancient scriptures gained authority. Judgments and future decisions are catered and made in consideration and in accordance to such authorities. As a result, perspectives and knowledge are confined. In this sense, the authorities act like horse blinders. They keep the society focused only on a certain path.

This is the underlying principle behind Socrates famous line an unexamined life is not worth living. If one would not have the courage to question his beliefs, the reliability of his sources and explore the possibility beyond what is already known, then that person would only be living in the shadows of the past. This means that progress would greatly be delayed or may not be possible at all, since people allows themselves to be limited and follow orders uncritically. In the Platonic dialogues, Socrates was portrayed as a man who tried to stir the imagination, curiosity and ability of the youth and his fellow citizens to think beyond the box. Questioning or challenging things and ideas utilize rational faculties that could prove or disprove previously held beliefs. If a man is living based on his own beliefs and not merely following what others did or made, then he is living and examined life.

Meletus who accused Socrates of corrupting the youth failed to examine the basis of his claim. He could not tell specifically how the corruption took place. Meletus firmly believed that the laws and the gods are real, simply because the elders have told him so. Meletus failed to examine his own accusations and testimonials. When he heard what Socrates had been doing, he did not try to examine what, how and why such accusations exist. He merely accepted that the rumors are true because they exist. In the same manner that he believed in gods because stories about them exists. Meletus still believed in the gods of Athens despite the presence of contrary opinion, such that of Anaximanders writings.

Crito failed to examine the reason why Socrates chose to stay and be condemned to death than to flee Athens and escape. Crito did not consider how Socrates valued his beliefs. Since Crito is living an unexamined life, he failed initially to understand Socrates decision to accept the verdict despite his innocence. Crito, like most Athenians, believed that the preservation of life is more important than mere ideals. Socrates, on the other hand, believed that upholding his beliefs is more important than living a life. To this extent, they discussed the notion of justice and Laws. The examination made Crito realized importance of standing by your own decisions.

Euthyphro according to the dialogue had examined the notion of justice and piety with Socrates. Euthypro believed that the expression of piety is equivalent to being loved by gods. Upon closer examination, the conversation examined the actions and attitudes of the gods. This revealed that either an action is considered moral because the gods says it is so or moral actions are in themselves good that is why gods preferred them to be followed. It is important to examine what are pious actions and why they should be done. The examination made Euthyphro recognized that moral actions are not merely the result of gods whimsical acts and decisions. The dialogue revealed that moral actions are favorable because they are good in themselves. Somehow, it also showed that the Athenian gods are capable of doing immoral acts themselves implying their imperfections.

As revealed through the three characters, the examination of beliefs and perspectives are important in the justification and commitments towards actions. Moreover, the act of examination reveals facts that are usually disregarded as trivial andor unimportant. If these three characters did not examine their dogmatic beliefs, they would be confined by conventional knowledge and would not be able to actually stand their grounds regarding their beliefs.


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