An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


"The unexamined life is not worth living." said Socrates (Apology 38a) and I have always agreed with him on this. But what did he mean by an "unexamined life" ? One has only to have a cursory knowledge of Socrates' life to know that his dedication to questioning and logical nit-picking on matters moral and truthful led to his own death, and to realise that it is this quest for truth and morality to which his use of the word "unexamined" refers. Not truth or morality in and of themselves but the quest for them - the active quest.

And your point is?

Well, it has seemed to me lately that governments worldwide, and their electorates, and sundry lobby groups, and religious bigots, and, or sometimes it seems, just about everyone who has a voice these days seeks to put more and more issues of vital importance to society beyond Socratic examination. It seems as though they, the people who should be promoting and or directing examination, are instead constructing a set of strictures that ensures that we shall all live, at least in public, an unexaminable life.


Religion? Can we seriously "examine" any religion logically to determine its truth value? Not if the UK government has its way. Race? Can we "examine" racial difference without being locked up if we expose dilemmas between truth and policy in so doing? The holocaust?

Warfare - its declaration and the ways of waging it? The invasion of sovereign territories? Forced regime change? Can we "examine" these things? If the British parliament is not allowed to, then how can the electorate consider it?

And so?

And so - what is the point of it all? If Socrates was right then Blair and Brown and the archbishops of the Anglican church and the militant feminists and militant animal rights brigadiers who all want to shut us up and ban discussion beyond their own boundaries are living lives not worth living. And if that is true why should we all follow them? If it offends their sensibilities or sensitivities the that is a shame. If the "examination" is designed simply to offend then that is morally indefensible. But ...

But what?

But it is the price that we pay for "examination": the price for the quest that make our lives worth living. No subject should be taboo - no subject or action beyond examination - and anyone who suggests otherwise is attacking our right to a life worth living. We need to grow slightly thicker skins in order that we are not so easily offended and that we might grow as humans. And bigger logical faculties that we might "examine" things more closely more rationally.

In 2006 the words and actions of a man who lived in a polytheistic society 25 centuries ago makes more sense than the monotheistic god bothering people who run the world today. Perhaps we should pay more attention to Socrates.

1 comment:

  1. A fine piece indeed.

    Whilst Socrates favoured the elenctic method of examination, which he believed would lead us to make correct value-judgements and hence to act rightly, the knowledge gained is no stronger than the last refutation of the false view under examination. Despite that weakness, however, it is still better per se to examine the issues than not, but more and more vested self-interest groups are trying to deny us the right to do so. Perhaps we should start by examining their motives for wishing to deny us the right to examine their claims?