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The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

By:   •  July 8, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  1,310 Words (6 Pages)  •  374 Views

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The Examined Life Is Not Worth Living

 At one point in everyone's life, we reach a point in which we ask ourselves one fundamental question: Why am I here? For some, this question comes earlier on their lives and for others, a significant majority actually, it comes later on in life. It is at this point that most turn to inspirational motivators who claim to have hacked what life is and why we are here, and most of them give a straightforward answer to this question. The response may be varied, but it all boils down to Martin Luther King’s quote, “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.” Very many people agree with this, and many have accomplished a lot living by this very principle. Yet, this principle limits what one's life is all about one single idea or purpose, something that both Plato and Aristotle seem to have understood.

        In the giving of the philosophy of the Allegory in the Cave, Plato alludes to this concept of having only a single point of view in life and committing to it. He compares this kind of experience of living in a cave. Inside this cave, one is imprisoned with fire, which is the only source of light, put at his back, and the only thing the prisoner can see is the shadows in front of him. As such, the prisoner's single perception of reality is the shadows that he or she construes to the fact. This Allegory thus does make one to rethink his or her entire life, and afterward, seek the meaning of it all. It at this point that many find religion, philosophy, art, or even inspiration to try and make sense of their lives.


        In retrospect, however, King was right. Having a purpose of dying for is an excellent reason to keep living, despite the anguish life may throw one's way. The most important thing about life, however, is seemingly omitted in King's philosophy. One that, even those who find their purpose never find to realize. At the time. King uttered this because he was urging people to stand up against discrimination and fight for equal civil rights for the African Americans. He understood Plato's Cave philosophy, "An untutored mind is one that is at peace and experiences freedom to explore and dream." However, at this moment in time, where civil rights are enjoyed, then life has to be more than having something to die for. It has to be a life that is measured in truth and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

        If this were not the case, why else would Aristotle emphasize on the high-minded man? We live in a time where technology has overtaken human life. It has become so ingrained in our lives that most people's lives can easily get reduced to how many likes or comments or views we attract on some social media platform. In fact, this is the purpose for which most people. However, is this really living? Is this an examined life? According to Plato, we are the three chained prisoners in the cave, while Aristotle would refer to us as little-minded.

 Most of us have many friends in platforms such as Facebook or even followers on Twitter. This illusion that they are our friends is nothing but a fallacy. Take away the platforms, and most of us actually do not have many real friends; people we can interact with face-to-face. Ask this, how is a life in which real friends are replaced with virtual friends not being chained to the metaphorical Plato's cave. Only instead of chains, technology chains us in place. Unless we break free of this, we remain prisoners of our own lives. ()


 Aristotle teaches the importance of being a high-minded man. One of his most significant point on this topic is, “The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think." A simplistic view on life, but one that has become very hard to follow in these times. Our lives one lie after another. Most of our interactions, friendships, careers, and even families are kept together by the lies we tell. Most have gone so deep as to believe the lies they tell. We do this because we don't want to stand alone. Standing for the truth means being rejected, being ridiculed, and considered an outcast. It means losing our jobs and our families, so we go along with the false narratives we have chosen to believe. However, Aristotle considers any person who lives this way to be a small-minded person. He requires that we stand up for the truth, and stick to it no matter the fallout. By so doing, life becomes worth living.

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