ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ

Why do philosophy? The title of this post gives one reason.

The Ancient Greek phrase ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ (ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi) or “the unexamined life (is) no life (for a) man/human” is usually translated as “the unexamined life is not worth living”.

It was recorded by Plato (Dialogues, Apology of Socrates, 38a) as a statement made in a speech made by Socrates (469BC — 399BC) at his trial for the alleged crime of corrupting the morals of Athen’s youth with his philosophy. He was found guilty and eventually died after drinking hemlock as punishment.

I sometimes think there are two kinds of people: those that think there are two kinds of people and those that don’t that agree with Socrates (like me) and those that just like to get on with life without any need for introspection (the eponymous protagonist of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel Zorba the Greek , with his zest for life and distaste for navel-gazing springs to mind).

Perhaps the same justification could be put forward for poetry (at least some forms of poetry), not that it needs any.

All this has been leading up to the fact that to make any sense of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, I have felt the need for a bit of history of philosophy background. And what better place to start than Socrates.

Future posts will present other philosophers and their attitudes to the body, in ridiculously abbreviated and dumbed-down-to-my-level-of-understanding form.

But no post titles as self-indulgent as this one, I promise.

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About middleeuropeanmelancholy

64 year old Australian born male. Into travel, poetry, philosophy, music, popular physics, mathematics (especially topology)...
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