The Think Well blog this month is bringing ancient wisdom to life with an intriguing statement, thought-provoking and somehow irritating. It is an invitation to philosophical reflection.  “The unexaminded life is not worth living.” – Socrates   

Socrates (/ˈsɒkrətz/;[2] Greek: Σωκράτης [sɔːkrátɛːs], Sōkrátēs; 470/469 – 399 BC)[1] was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes.

The unexaminded life is not worth living is a famous dictum, apparently uttered by Socrates at his trial for impiety and corrupting youth, for which he was subsequently sentenced to death, as described in Plato’s Apology (38a5-6), present a claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value.

Socrates never took any way of doing things for granted, including how people at that time lead their lives. He knew that he knew nothing, and so he did not presume to know how life should be led. He was on trial for encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of the time and think for themselves. The sentence was death and although Socrates had the option of suggesting an alternative punishment he preferred death.

No one has all the answers. But it seems that people who do examine their lives, who think about where they’ve been, how they got here, and where they’re going, are much happier people. As no one’s life is free from trouble and strife having some sense of where one belongs in the universe provides a context for understanding how all the life elements fit together.

examine your life

Open up your mind … consider, ponder, contemplate, imagine, dream, pay full attention to what is going on in you and outside you, moment by moment, and without judging… observe your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. Be fully aware of your surroundings….Think Well!