How A Quote From Socrates Influences My Life

The Life Which is Unexamined is Not Worth Living

The quote I put above is a quote from Socrates. Some of you might be familiar with him, as he is one of the most influential figure not only in philosophic study, but human civilization as we know it. As philosopher, Socrates lived quite a unique life, he had never opened his own school nor wrote a book, what he did instead was to engage in a dialogue with anyone who wanted to do so (which is something he can afford as he inherited a large sum of wealth and can live a decent life without work). In his dialogues, he usually asked questions about essential concept like gods, how to live a good life, nature of love, and so on. By questioning, Socrates revealed how people often took for granted what was thought as right without examining the real value behind it. Somehow, without he trying it, as he engaged in more and more dialogues, he got famous that a Delphic Oracle named him the wisest man in the worlds and gained young followers (Plato is one of them). Few can be as badass as him.

I really like this quote that, in fact, not only I use this quote as my tagline in my blog, this quote is also what inspired the name of my blog, Examined Journey. When I was still asking the purpose of life and how to make a life worth living, Socrates came with his brilliant insight and provide me a direction on how to live a meaningful life. You see, Socrates had his life ended when the authority accused him for sophistry that deceit and corrupt people’s minds. When he was faced with the threat of death penalty, he bravely said that he would choose death rather than a life filled with ignorance. Thus, this famous quote was born.

Examining life is Socrates’ central concern. He was not interested in arguing or made his own argument but instead asking questions to see the real value behind a concept. Socrates believe, what constitutes as bad or good was not something relative but something absolute. The only way to know what is good then is to examine it carefully to know its merits. To live a life with ignorance, without questioning things in life, would be immoral as we’d have no way to know if what we think is right to do is actually right. Thus he believed the only way to live a good life is to question and put our values into rigorous examination, while ignorance leads us into not knowing what’s good and do what’s bad as the consequence. “There is only one good : knowledge and one evil : ignorance.”

I found this quote in Philosophy Book by DK Publishing, a really brilliant book that simply explain philosopher’s ideas. I’m halfway done with this book and this idea is what stands out the most. As debater and MUNer, challenging status quo, debating what’s right and wrong, and seeking a solution of problems are what I do almost on daily basis. So this quote is like the justification I’m struggling to find nowadays to live a tiring life of constantly rethink what’s wrong and right, caring for stuffs that people don’t care about, and doubting ourselves continuously. It’s worth struggling to find for ourselves what a good value is rather than accepting what people, or traditions, have agreed on. It’s okay to not know the answer for ‘important questions’ right away but to examine it and question it carefully until we know what’s closest to the right one. This quote is like an encouragement I really need and will be one thing I will remember for a long time in my life.

Have you ever been impacted so strongly by someone’s words? Tell me in the comments!

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