What did Socrates say about the unexamined life?

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Socrates said that the unexamined life wasn't worth living.

What he meant by this was that a life not devoted to the pursuit of truth and philosophical wisdom was pretty much worthless.

In making such a bold claim, Socrates was asserting the superiority of the philosophical life, a life that he defended with great vigor in front of the citizen jurors during his trial for impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens.

Some have criticized Socrates for putting forward an essentially elitist worldview. As only a relatively small number of people are capable of pursuing the examined life, the life of the philosopher, then it follows that truth is only really accessible to a privileged few. In contrast, such critics argue that truth, if it is to have any meaning, must be available to everyone.

Critics have also chided Socrates for what they see as an unnecessary rhetorical flourish. Even if one accepts that the unexamined life is inferior to that of the philosopher, it surely doesn't mean that it is entirely worthless or not worth living.

Engaging in philosophical discourse may well give us a superior pleasure to that found in supposedly lesser activities. But that still doesn't mean that such activities are entirely worthless for those who participate in them.

On the contrary, they can add considerably to our enjoyment of our lives, giving them richness and depth. But because Socrates was a philosopher, and so utterly devoted to the pursuit of truth arrived at through a process of reasoning, he was unable to recognize this.

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