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IS THE UNEXAMINED LIFE WORTH LIVING OR NOT?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 March 2012

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According to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. This view is controversial. Is the unexamined life worth living or not? Most philosophers disagree about the answer. While some argue for the worthlessness of an unexamined life, others support the superfluity of self critical examination. In his recent article, Jamison pooh-poohed the claim that an unexamined life is not worth living. According to Jamison, not only is an unexamined life worth living; the rigorous examination of life should not be encouraged due to its possible negative effects on the participants and the entire society. In Jamison's view, a consistent and unregulated examination of human life produces a feeling of ecstasy (a specie of spiritual feeling) in those who engage in it. The feeling, if allowed, could endanger both the thinker and the entire society. For Jamison, “once you get a taste of this kind of thing, you do not want to give it up”. Someone who engages in self-critical examination eventually becomes entangled with it. Socrates became entangled in dialectics, became unpopular, was accused of corrupting the youth and eventually sentenced to death.

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Research Article
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Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2012

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References

1 See Plato's Dialogue, Apology (38a).

2 William S. Jamison, ‘Is the Unexamined Life Worth Living?' Available at http://afwsj.uaa.alaska.edu/un.htm, visited on 20/02/2011

3 Ibid.

Ibid

4 Robert Gerzon, ‘Is the unexamined life worth living?’ Available at http://www.gerzon.com/resources/unexam_life.html, visited on 20/02/2011.

5 Ibid.

Ibid

6 Ibid.

Ibid

7 Jamison, ‘Is the Unexamined Life Worth Living?’.

8 See Bellah, Robert N., ‘Community Properly Understood: A Defense of “Democratic Communitarianism” in Etzioni, Amitai, (ed.), The Essential Communitarian Reader (New York: Rowman & LittleField Publisher, 1998), pp. 1519Google Scholar.

9 See Waismann, Friedrich, ‘How I See Philosophy’, in Lewis, H.D. (ed.), Contemporary British Philosophy, Third Series (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1956)Google Scholar.

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