Essay - Socrates' - the Unexamined Life is not Worth Living Socrates...

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Socrates' - The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

***** ***** convinced that "the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being" (Ap. 38a5-6), it is clear that he must suppose there to be extremely high value in philosophical activity. But even th***** value is difficult to make out. Despite hav*****g lived by this principle for so many years now, Socrates is ***** ***** he remains ignorant of "anything fine and good" (Ap. 21d3-4). And because Socrates sees vice as nothing other than moral ignorance, it might seem puzzling how he could claim to be any better off than those whose vice he h***** struggled ***** eradicate t*****rough philosophy. After all, he is no less ignorant than they are; his superior wisdom lies solely in his recognition of the ignorance he shares with them. Scattered throughout the early dialogues are a variety of principles which Socrates plainly endorses. Socrates' acceptance of these principles appears to have been generated through ***** practice of philosophy (Palmer, 1988). Thus, by ***** the philosophical life he has come to recognize a variety of ways in which he ***** have acted wrongfully; by following his principles he has avoided ***** evils ***** might *****wise have committed. And precisely ***** happiness is assured by good action from the fact that Socrates can ***** a number of important judgments ***** guide him to good actions, we can be confident that at least up until the time of his trial, he is ***** some degree genuinely happy.

One activity especially stands out--his examinations ***** himself and others. It is precisely ***** activity, according to Socrates, that has made his life worthwhile. Socrates s*****s ***** he regards this activity as necessary for happiness when he says, "t***** unexamined life is no***** worth living for a human being" (Ap. 38a5-6). He goes on to show that he thinks it is sufficient for happiness when he indicates ***** so long as he could engage in this activity, Socrates would consider himself happy: he ***** count it ***** an "********** happiness" (Ap. 41c3-4) if death *****ers him the opportunity to pursue his mission with the dead in Hades. In order to underst***** this claim, we do *****t need to assume that Socrates would miraculously receive virtue in the after*****--just engaging in this activity alone is enough ***** Socrates to judge his condition happy. Accordingly, good activity is sufficient for happiness; virtue itself is not needed. But once ***** opportunity for good activity has been taken away, as it has ***** ***** his conviction, and since he considers all of t***** possible penalties other than paying a fine to be evils (Ap. 37b5-e2), ***** no longer counts ***** life *****s worthwhile, *****ing that he will be better off *****, ***** if death is *****hing more than utter extinction (Ap. 40c5). The power of the jury to constrain what Socrates can ***** justly makes clear ***** ***** measure of happiness, however sm*****, can be ensured during one's life.

What ***** asserts, *****


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