Obviously, the unexamined life is not worth living. But, for Socrates, or indeed any Socratically influenced philosophy, is any examined life valuable or in some sense a success; fully lived?

Put another way, is it sufficient to test the integrity of your beliefs or actions, or is is it - in addition - necessary for them to pass such a test?

Especially interested if a Marxist might answer that question.

  • 1
    What do you mean by "examined" ?
    – armand
    Mar 18, 2021 at 1:50
  • Denial is vastly underrated as a coping strategy.
    – user4894
    Apr 17, 2021 at 1:28
  • @user4894: You might be interested in the story of How To Disappear Completely youtu.be/Sk6FC7_P88g
    – CriglCragl
    Apr 17, 2021 at 1:43
  • @CriglCragl Are you implying that I should disappear from the site? :-)
    – user4894
    Apr 17, 2021 at 1:53
  • @user4894: Just thought it's a powerful example of denial as a practical coping strategy
    – CriglCragl
    Apr 17, 2021 at 1:57

3 Answers 3


I think you miss Socrates' point. Without a process of examining, a person hasn't established their own values, so has no basis to decide what is worthy or worthless. Similarly, defining success. With someone else's definition, you are a robot programmed by that, and achieving it will likely be hollow at best.

You must decide yourself, for your self, by examining your life, to find an answer that compels you - no other can.

I offer you this, which I think illustrates someone meditating on these issues, including on Marx:

"For the islands I sing and for a few friends; not to foster means or be midwife to ends.

Not for old Marx and his moon-cold logic - anthill dialectics, neither gay nor tragic.

Not that extravagance Lawrence understood - golden phoenix flowering from blood.

For Scotland I sing, the Knox-ruined nation, that poet and saint must rebuild with their passion.

For workers in field and mill and mine who break earth's bread and crush her wine.

Go, good my songs, be as gay as you can. Weep if you have to, the old tears of man.

Praise tinker and saint, and the rose that takes its fill of sunlight, though a world breaks."

-from The Storm, by George MacKay Brown


This question strikes me as mildly tendentious, but the bridge between Socratic and Marxist thought interests me, so...

Socrates point was that if we do not examine our lives philosophically, we will never be able to appreciate 'The Good' — the philosophical ideal of virtuous living — and so we cannot possibly attain that ideal. Examining one's life is not a guarantee that one will become a philosopher with a proper understanding of The Good, but one must strive.

The typical Marxist critique of Class Capitalism resonates well with the Socratic principle. Marxism asserts that the main problem with Class Capitalism is that the capitalist class is blinkered and short-sighted. Capitalists (in their view) focus on the singular goal of making profit, and ignore a wide variety of collateral issues: environmental degradation, disruption of social structures, oppression of working classes, national and transnational inequities, etc. Because the capitalist does not take the time to examine all of these destructive impacts, nor expend the resources or energy to reverse them, the Class Capitalist project is philosophically unworthy. Should capitalists engage in such deep examination, many of the problems of capitalism would be resolved, and the system might become worthy.

Of course, Marxists themselves can be accused of similar short-sightedness. I doubt Mao or Lenin (much less Stalin) fully considered the practical and philosophical implications of the systems they instituted. C'est la vie...


Obviously, the unexamined life is not worth living.

Obviously, whether one's own life is worth living is for one to judge. It is an obvious empirical fact that most people seem to think their life is worth living. Whether they have examined their own life is anybody's guess but it would be futile to pretend to know most didn't. In any case, whether they did or not may not make much difference in this respect.

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