In The Apology, Plato chronicles a speech Socrates made at a trial where he was charged with violating several laws of Athens, the harshest being “corrupting the youth of Athens.” The trial ends with a death penalty sentence for Socrates. While given an opportunity to suggest an alternative punishment, Socrates declined believing he did nothing wrong. The jury then gave him the option to give up his philosophizing, instead of death. Socrates declined stating,
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates believed the purpose of life was to grow, whether spiritually or personally, considering it the most important part of living. Understanding your true nature requires you to question the way you think about yourself and the world around you. This belief guides me on my search for my authentic self. If we refuse to “examine” ourselves, we will act without purpose, preventing us from being better people. Good decisions come from wisdom. For me, the good life is one in which we make those around us and ourselves happier. The only way to pursue this path is to pursue wisdom and knowledge. This pursuit is what Socrates would be giving up if accepted the jury’s alternative, he would be forsaking the examined life, and without wisdom or self-knowledge he believed he would be better off dead.
When you take the time to reflect back upon your life, you get the opportunity to choose your path, ultimately taking control of your life. However, if the unexamined life is not worth living the opposite is also true: the un-lived life is not worth examining.