Of Course, the Examined Life is Worth Living!
In this essay, I will argue that the examined life is worth living. I will begin by defining what exactly the examined life is. Then I will construct my argument, identifying the premises and conclusion. Next, I will assess the acceptability of my premises and determine the logical strength of my argument. Finally, by using the logical analytical process, I will prove that my argument is a good argument (Hughes, Chapters 4ff).
I define the examined life as the type of life which Socrates lived. This is a life in which he examines and talks to himself and others. (Apology, 71-72) This definition uses the, “meaning as use theory,” because, given the context of the discussion, the examined life is being defined. The type of definition used is a stipulative definition since the term is being defined for the context of this essay specifically. The method of definition being used is genus-species since it begins with the general, “the type of life,” and ends with the specific, “which Socrates has lived.” One could argue that this definition is too narrow as the examined life is not limited to just the type of life which Socrates has lived (Hughes, Ch.2). For the purpose of this essay, the definition is suitable, since the type of examined life that is being looked at is the one which Socrates has lived.
Socrates is satisfied with his examined life. If Socrates is satisfied with his examined life, then the examined life is worth living. Therefore, the examined life is worth living. These are dependent premises because they rely on each other to support the conclusion. (Hughes, Ch.4)
P1: Socrates is satisfied with his examined life.
P2: If Socrates is satisfied with his examined life, then the examined life is worth living.
C3: The examined life is worth living.
The first premise uses an empirical fact because the fact that Socrates is satisfied with his examined life is observable. The correspondence theory of truth is used since this statement corresponds to things in the real world (Hughes, Ch.6). Firstly, the fact that Socrates has lived an examined life is shown by the definition previously established. Secondly, since Socrates, “believed the right time had come for him to die,” he was certainly satisfied with his life (Xenophon, 182). Otherwise, he would have avoided death at all costs. We know this is not the case since he had a “lack of effrontery and impudence,” while arguing his case (Apology, 72). This premise is acceptable as the facts are true and the theory of truth works. The second premise uses a non-empirical fact since if Socrates is satisfied with his examined life, then the examined life is worth living cannot be observed in the real world. Therefore, the coherence theory of truth is used. It coheres that for any lifestyle to be worth living, it needs to fulfill the one living it. Therefore, for the lifestyle which Socrates lives, to be worth living it would need to fulfill Socrates. Thus, this premise is acceptable as it coheres with other statements (Hughes, Ch.6).
The premises are relevant to the conclusion since both premises are on the same topic as the conclusion. The premises adequately support the conclusion since the format of a “Modus Ponens,” syllogism was used and all syllogisms create deductive arguments. My argument does not commit a fallacy because it follows the correct format of Modus Ponens, affirming the antecedent. The two potential fallacies for this type of syllogism would be affirming the consequent or denying the antecedent, however my argument does neither of these. Therefore, my argument is deductive and by extension logically strong (Hughes, Ch.9).
P2: If A then B
C3: B (Modus Ponens)
I have proven that the examined life is worth living through the logical analytical process. Firstly, I defined what exactly the examined life is to clarify my argument and constructed my argument, identifying the premises and conclusion. I found that my premises were acceptable and established that my argument is logically strong, thus proving that my argument is a good argument.
Hughes, William & Lavery, Jonathan. “Critical Thinking,” Broadview Press, Peterborough, 2015
Plato, “The Apology of Socrates,” Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, England, 1984
Xenophon, “Socrates’ Defense to The Jury,” Hackett Publishing Company Inc., Indianapolis/Cambridge, 2002