“An unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates. What does this quotation mean to you? (10 marks)

Mentor’s comment-

  • In the first part of the answer explain the context in which the above quote is said by the author.
  • In the next part explain what do you understand by the quote. This quote deals with the examination of life, i.e. introspection.
  • Introspection helps us in our pursuit of wisdom and search for the truth.
  • But the quote can also be counter-argued by mentioning that all unexamined lives are not worth living is unreasonable. For many, life in itself is worth living whether it is examined or not.
  • Also mention how the quote applies in the present context in the life of a person in society.

Answer

Socrates was considered by many to be the wisest man in ancient Greece, his spoken words are still listened to and followed today.

Meaning of – An unexamined life is not worth living.

Through this statement, Socrates means that an unexamined human life is deprived of the meaning and purpose of existence. To become fully human means to use our highly developed faculty of thought to raise our existence above that of mere beasts. For if we don’t think, we are no more than animals, simply eating, sleeping, working and procreating.

Importance of examined life

  • Just like a seed needs soil, sunlight, and water for its germination, human life needs introspection and examination for its growth. An understanding of the experiences gained in life at any particular time enriches one’s engagement with the self and the universe.
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s examination of self through his autobiography ‘My experiments with truth’ highlights the significance of reflection on life. Mahatma Gandhi was not only able to map his weaknesses and vulnerabilities through the examination but was also able to question his prejudices and understand his strength as a human being.
  • This very ability to reflect on life adds more depth to the character of ‘Arjun’ in Mahabharat than most of the other characters like Bheeshm, Yudhishthir or the Kauravs. Instead of following the norms and fighting with his clan, Arjun questions the meaninglessness of the war and the purpose of his life.
  • The fast-changing societies and consumerist culture in the contemporary world leave less time for human beings to examine and think about the changes. Adaptation to changes has become automatic and unquestionable.

The current relevance of the statement

  • The quotation has strong relevance in the present times where human beings are burdened with the histories of war, colonization, nationalization, erosion of morality in the scientific and technological advancements and the sense of spiritual uprootedness.

It is in these times that one needs to delve deeper into the conscience to find the purpose of existence and engage in a more meaningful manner with society.

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