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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

In a world full of rush, people running everywhere and doing the greater amount of things they can do in the shortest time possible, is hard to realize what is around, is hard to stop for a moment to appreciate something, to talk to somebody, to help others or even to make some good for the society. But does it worth living against time and not carrying for anything else?

A long time ago, in the ancient Greece, the famous philosopher Socrates answered this question with his famous quote “The unexamined life is not worth living(1)”. He was an example of someone who definitely lived to make the difference; he gave a meaning to his life, because if it didn’t, there would not be a purpose of living.

The biggest problem is to know what to do to change this situation and how to turn the time in people’s favor. It is hard, but there are some tools available which can be used with wisdom to change the perspective of life, and philosophy provides some of them. According to John Chaffee, the ability to reflect on one’s life and one’s self is a distinctly human ability and philosophy provides the intellectual tool to reflect with clarity, to evaluate choices and use knowledge to make more enlightened choices in the future(2).

Thinking about the Socrates’ quote, it is possible to explain the necessity of happiness, the feeling that you are doing something useful with your life, that you have a deeper purpose which embraces more than just yourself, that you have a meaningful life, because on the other hand you can feel depressed, bored, aimlessly, you feel your soul empty or you can even feel you have nothing; in this case, Socrates would say that if we fail to make use of this unique ability (which is thinking philosophically), our  lives have diminished potential(3).

It is so important to “live awake”, and you just realize it when your life is in the end, and sometimes it is possible to know if your life is in the end if you decide to take your own life. In South Korea, there are a lot of suicide cases and a huge number of depression cases. It happens because those people did not find a way to make their lives meaningful, so they choose to do not live anymore; but this is so sad and disturbing that they created a method of doing “fake funerals”, where people who think about killing themselves or feel that need to reborn in some way, can feel part of the experience of dying without really die. Although the idea looks scary, some people believe it can helps to reflect about how their were living, and why they came into that point, and that instead of choosing to do not live anymore, they could just try a different way to live giving themselves a second chance.

According to Prince Ea, “everybody dies, but not everybody lives(4)”, so every human being is going to experience death one day, so people need to enjoy as much as they can of their lives, because this is the most complex part; dying is easy, stop going through life sleep walking(5) (without paying attention and observing on what has been done) is complicated. “Death has become an imposition on the human race and is no longer acceptable(6)”, society needs to fight for happiness instead.

When the time of death comes, people have to take Socrates as an example, because he did not fear death, he was knew that he had done everything he could to make his life worth for him and for lots of people and he also had no regrets; even knowing he was going to die (he was forced to die), he was grateful for his accomplishes in life, and gratitude is the key for happiness(7). There is nothing more fulfilling than end your life happy and with a peaceful mind.

There is a lady who was considered the happiest person by a test from the Science of Happiness(8) because she incredibly had a perfect score. Her secret is simply gratitude; she is grateful for each detail in her life, in other words, she is grateful for having simple things that makes a difference in her life and gives her comfort (just like a toothbrush and soap), she is grateful for doing what she loves (which is making contact with different people all the time), and the most important is that she is grateful for being alive.

Most people do not think about how each second of life is important for them, because each second is an opportunity to do something different, to do something they like or to live a happy moment with someone. What if today was your last day alive(9)? Most people would do things totally different from what they usually do, for sure. But this is a true reflection, because it is impossible to know what is going to happen in the next second, so you need to make this second the best one, and do the same with the next one, and so on.

People spend too much time doing what should not be their priority, doing things they do not really want to do, for example watching TV, using social media, recording memories instead of living them entirely, working with they do not like or even fulfilling human necessities (like eating and sleeping). In the end the time that they have left is extremely short and that will be the time available to enjoy with family and friends, to follow dreams and to genuinely be happy. When thinking about all days of a whole life, it can looks a lot of time, but if each day was a jelly bean and all the jelly beans were put on a table, it could be visualized that the time left is just a few number of jelly beans that need to be eaten carefully and appreciated as much as possible(10).

Viewing life as a bunch of jelly beans also gives a sense of streamlining this idea of time. This Socratic Method (which is related to the use of reason) will show that “reason is the path to the truth, not opinion or conjecture(11)”, it means that if the reality of life is distorted in your head, you can still use reason to come into a conclusion about it, and you will be sure that the new thought is totally true because it was no based on any subjectivity.

Using reason to see life as jelly beans in order to realize that changes in life are needed if you want to make it worth enough so you never come into the decision of giving up on it, brings satisfactory results, because you will avoid regrets that can make your life heavy.

People do not need to stop working or stop doing necessary routine activities to do things that make their lives worth only; all can be done if they use more time to reflect, to use their critical thinking to evaluate if everything they do is necessary, to make insights about their lives, to care more, to build relationships and to be wise.


1  Philosophy book “The Philosopher’s Way” by Chaffee – page 8

2  Philosophy book “The Philosopher’s Way” by Chaffee – page 8

3  Philosophy book “The Philosopher’s Way” by Chaffee – page 8

4 Prince Ea in the video

5 Socrates’ quote

6 “Alan Harrington, The Immortalist” in the video v=odwW8XlTD1I&t=1s



9 Discussion in class about the last day on Earth


11 Philosophy book “The Philosopher’s Way” by Chaffee – page 53

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