The unexamined life is all that’s worth living


“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye mighty, and despair!”   – Percy Shelley

Which is better: ignorance or awareness?

As of late I have decided it is better to be ignorant.

As you’ll see in my post Dishwasher, I briefly touch on the topic of meaning of what one does in this life. The conclusion: that there is no difference. Whether you are someone like Oprah Winfrey or you’re a thief who steals from others, it is all the same in the end.

Some of you may say: “No way! There’s a HUGE difference. Oprah is not only a huge figure with tons of dough, she also aids and supports lots of people in this world who are less fortunate. The thief lives to make other lives miserable and is only out for their own self gain. How could they be the same?”

The problem with the human consciousness is that it can only encompass so very little. Were persistently thinking of the relevant present and it is difficult to consider the inevitable far future. If a person lives to be 100, for example, that is considered a long life; which it is, but, even then, in the grand scheme of things, we are but the tiniest microscopic blip on the radar that is space, time and all that there ever will be.

Billions of years from now, who you are and what you’ve done in this world will not matter. This has already happened in the brief human existence that has taken place on this planet. Consider for a second all of the pharaohs of Egypt who had immense power, of whom all around knew their name and title (refer to the poem Ozymandias by Percy Shelley). Today, would you be able to name any of these? There are some, of course, that one may be able to bring to mind. But never all. Consider all of the emperors in the Asian dynasties that had such incredible power and, again, of whom all around knew. But, today, could one (unless you are a historian who studies such things) bring to mind those names and what they did for their empires? These examples took place only thousands of years ago…Now imagine millions or even billions of years from now!

Society and it’s structure is in place so that we do not reform back into savages living in the state of nature fending only for ourselves and killing one another without a moments hesitation. Does this make for a better existence on this planet? I’d say so, absolutely. Does it matter which form of life we have on planet Earth then? For the time being and for an easier life where savagery is less abundant, maybe. But in the long run? Not the least bit.

Going back to my initial question, about ignorance and awareness, I declare that it is better to be ignorant. It was Socrates who said, “the unexamined life is NOT worth living.” I proclaim the opposite. Life is a depressing existence with bits of happiness sprinkled in. We have to work for a living wherein we encounter stress and anxiety. Money is of a constant issue for most of us. Bills need to be paid, children need clothes and books for school, food needs to be put in the fridge and etc. And these are western problems. Consider the lives of the tribes in Africa where people are starving and life is far harder. The amount of hardships in this life are impossible to write down all at once.

Socrates is not talking about such things. He is talking about life in the terms of ones meaning in it, ethics and morality, among other things. BUT isn’t it better, to just be completely ignorant of such things? Isn’t it better to not have the mental capacity to understand such things. To just live ones life without the troubles of existence and without the stress that the daily life can bring. If you take children or even the severely mentally handicapped for example. Most are happy as a clam. They have people who take  care of them and they are ignorant to the troubles of life. They are only concerned with instant gratification. What they are eating and what they are doing for entertainment. There are moments of course where they feel loneliness, maybe, or stress overcomes them for a moment, as does for everyone in this life. But those moments are lost because of their mental capacity. Because something will then come along that will flee such thoughts from their minds at an instant.

It is far better to live in such a way. Whereas, when one is aware, these troubles may leave the mind for a few moments, but they inevitably come back.

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments below. The beautiful thing about philosophy is that it is meant to be debated!