According to Socrates, how is thinking a kind of preparation for death?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Socrates frequently encouraged introspection and questioning things in life. An unexamined life is not worth living. He is also famous for his statement that his wisdom comes from realizing how little he knows. Socrates always tries to get at the truth, but he would never pretend to know something he doesn’t. In thinking about things, we learn what we know and what we don’t know. He does not fear death because he doesn’t know what it is or what may occur after it. In Plato’s account of Socrates’ trial, the Apology, Socrates says:

To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know.

“Apology” means defense in this context. It is Socrates defending himself against charges that he corrupted the youth of Athens. During his defense, he points out that fearing death shows ignorance. Those who fear death can only pretend to know that it should be feared. They really don’t know if they should fear it or look forward to it. Thinking prepares one for death because it teaches you to acknowledge that fearing the unknown is irrational. You have no reason to fear something you know nothing about.

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