The Unconsidered Life

“Socrates famously said that the unconsidered life is not worth living. He meant that a life lived without forethought or principle is a life so vulnerable to chance, and so dependent on the choices and actions of others, that it is of little real value to the person living it. He further meant that a life well lived is one which has goals, and integrity, which is chosen and directed by the one who lives it, to the fullest extent possible to a human agent caught in the webs of society and history.

As the phrase suggests, the ‘considered life’ is a life enriched by thinking about things that matter – values, aims, society, the characteristic vicissitudes of the human condition, desiderata both personal and public, the enemies of human flourishing, and the meanings of life. It is not necessary to arrive at polished theories on all these subjects, but it is necessary to give them at least a modicum of thought if one’s life is to have some degree of shape and direction. To give thought to these matters is like inspecting a map before a journey. Looking at a map is not the same thing as travelling, but it at least provides orientation, a sense of place and of how places relate to each other – especially those one would like to visit. A person who does not think about life is like a stranger mapless in a foreign land; for one such, lost and without directions, any turning in the road is as good as any other, and if it takes him somewhere worthwhile it will have done so by the merest chance.”  A.C. Grayling, http://acgrayling.com/.

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