18 April 2007

Unsettling quotes: Socrates

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Socrates dropped this one while under trial for heresy & sedition. Here’s a couple of bursts from this fascinating discussion:
After his accusers presented their argument for the death penalty he had the opportunity to argue for an alternate punishment. Things like a fine, a fine with imprisonment, exile, or some other punishment.

His first suggestion was that the government give him a reward for his selfless contributions to Athenian society. He acknowledged that this suggestion probably freaked some of them out but he assured them that he was serious. He believed that the actions his accusers called criminal, were actually actions of the highest value to the health of the state. He admitted the jury would not be able to comprehend that argument so he went on to consider the appropriateness of imprisonment.

[...]

If they thought he could just keep his mouth shut and stay out of trouble, that would be impossible. First because to keep his silence would be a disobedience to a direct command from God. Of course he knew they could not believe he was serious about this God thing so he puts it a different way, he explained to them that he felt it was his responsibility, “... to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others,” he felt that this activity, “is really the very best thing that a man (or women) can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living ...”

OK, so the man has a point, but it can be a frightening one if you really do think about it. (-:

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