Plato - Apology

In ancient Greece, when visitors went to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the very first thing they encountered there was an inscription chiseled on the entrance: "know thyself." While many people today think of this as an invitation to meditative self-reflection, this was simply a warning for humans to know their place, to understand that they are mortal, and that any pretension to wisdom, power or hubris would be swiftly punished by the gods.

Perhaps one of the contributing factors to the more introspective meaning of this phrase comes from the fact that Socrates argued, most famously in Plato's celebrated dialogue Apology, that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Human beings have the unique ability of contemplating their beliefs, values and choices, and of questioning the established order and trying to come up with novel solutions and alternatives to the reality and the tragedy of existence. Taking this maxim seriously, however, is no easy task. As you can hear in the wonderful dramatization of Plato's Apology below, when Socrates admonished his fellow citizens to wake up from their dogmatic slumber (to borrow a phrase from Kant), they decided it would be easier to kill him than to start thinking for themselves...

Will you dare to know yourself? To live the examined life? To question the status quo and risk ridicule, threat and loneliness?

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