Home Discussion Forum What does Socrates mean "unexamined life is not worth living"?

What does Socrates mean "unexamined life is not worth living"?

What does Socrates mean when he says the unexamined life is not worth living? Why does he argue this. Using other philosophers determine what he meant by the “examined life”. Would you live in ignorance or die for knowledge?
I am doing a Philosophy project and want to get others inputs. Thanks!


  1. Probably as a remark of what someone else said that made their argument less valid. Socrates is not about to stand behind anything he or anyone else says. Protecting something you said before is not actually consistent, but inconsistent with what you think right now.
    Socrates knew only that he knew nothing. That is an incredible statement that keeps taking on new meanings for me. A disbelief is completely different from a belief.

  2. I think the context of “examined life” relates directly to the idea of constant questioning and never really being satisfied with one particular situation. It really creates a questionable existence.

  3. if you live without seeking knowledge, then your life is useless. i prefer to die for knowledge. add this to your project:
    knowledge is of two kind:aquired and natural.aquired knowledge is useless without natural knowledge just like the sun renders the stars useless during the day.

  4. ” curiosity kill the cat” . There is also a phrase that says that “ignorance kills you”. I think it is better to die in a battle for knowledge so that future generations would have that knowledge, i mean think of Marie Curie and her husband, they die of cancer fo radiation of the uranium.Now it is a part of the periodic table and won a Noble Prize for it. Socrates sounds very conservative, thinking that better not question more than you can sense(5 senses).

  5. Using other Philosophers is no way to determine what he meant, they will be expressing their own beliefs not his.

  6. If you don’t know what Socrates meant by that, you have no doing a “philosophy project,” and especially have no business being in a philosophy class.

  7. This is one of my favorite quotes. It represents the innate human drive to know and be known. It can be interpreted many ways, but I favor these two interpretations:
    1. At the individual level, to not examine or question one’s life is to risk misunderstanding one’s self in relation to the world. To not examine is to forgo critical thinking, to remain oblivious to one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and thus, to be a passive receiver of experience, instead of an active interpreter of experience. If one examine’s life, one is more likely to arrive at more reliable and valid approximations, to be more responsible for one’s actions, and to solve problems of daily living, as well as problems of existence.
    2. At the social level, to experience an unexamined life is to have no other person available as witness to your evolution. To bo isolated like that can have detrimental effects, because ultimately, humans thrive on interaction and self-disclosure. We want to express ourselves, to be understood, to connect, to relate.. so if nobody examines or witnesses our life, the result can be an enormous sense of invisibility, alienation, and unbelonging.
    I would not die for knowledge (my survival instinct is stronger than my instinct for knowledge!), but I also wouldn’t choose to live in ignorance. Life presents exceedingly more complex and subtle options than the black-and-white choices you’ve offered 😉

  8. Socrates was teaching the “gnothi seauton” know thyself.
    So, for him, a person who did not try to examine oneself was not living to the fullest. And when I say a person, since it was in Greece long ago, this person had to be a man. Women were at home doing their distaff and being not worth living. Fortunately things have changed!


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