Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-7f7b94f6bd-q7wkk Total loading time: 0.27 Render date: 2022-06-28T22:53:18.385Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

The Question of the Examined Life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 April 2018

Abstract

This essay calls into question Zuckert's claim in Postmodern Platos that Strauss provides the best contemporary defense of the superiority of the philosophic life against the claims of Nietzsche and Heidegger that it leads to nihilism and despair. For her, Strauss persuasively draws on Plato, read through Alfarabi and Maimonides, to defend this view by showing that the philosopher understands the true ends of human life as a whole which is part of the whole, and thus provides a vision of the noblest, best, and most beautiful. I argue that this claim is implausible, that Strauss's Platonic vision of the ends of human life is obscure, and that even if correct, it does not offer an answer to the question of the relative value of these heterogenous ends, and thus does not demonstrate that the philosophic life is more worth living than any other form of life.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © University of Notre Dame 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 Bacon, Francis, The New Organon and Related Writings, ed. Anderson, F. H. (New York: Macmillan, 1960), 122Google Scholar; Descartes, René, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 1, trans. Cottingham, John, Stoothoff, Robert, and Murdoch, Dugald (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 117–20Google Scholar.

2 Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Garnett, Constance (New York: Modern Library, 1996), 242Google Scholar.

3 Nietzsche, Friedrich, Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. Colli, G. and Montinari, M. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1967–), VI 2:9Google Scholar; VI 1:266–73.

4 Ibid., VI 1:276.

5 Kuhn, Elisabeth, Friedrich Nietzsches Philosophie des europäischen Nihilismus (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1992), 237CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 Heidegger, Martin, “Die Frage nach der Technik,” in Vorträge und Aufsätze (Pfullingen: Neske, 1969), 36Google Scholar; Der Spiegel, May 31, 1976, 209.

7 For more on this point, see my essay Nihilism after Nietzsche,” Bollettino Filosofico 30 (2015): 80100Google Scholar.

8 Strauss's argument here seems to me to exaggerate and overgeneralize from the case of Socrates. It seems unlikely that Socrates himself would have been put to death for merely attracting young men to study philosophy, had he not done so by constantly humiliating the leading citizens in the public square or the marketplace with his questioning. His protestations that his motivation for such questioning was a duty imposed upon him by the oracle of Delphi notwithstanding, as far as the practice of philosophy goes, he could have led a more private and less provocative life, more akin to the lives of many of the pre-Socratic philosophers, and to the ultimate life of the retired philosopher king Plato's Socrates describes in the Republic.

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Question of the Examined Life
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

The Question of the Examined Life
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

The Question of the Examined Life
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *