stevie ray vaughan

Monday, August 24, 2009

Human Nature

When looking at the concept of human nature I like to turn to a man who seemed to have this figured out entirly. Socrates:

True to his teaching that "an unexamined life is not worth living", Socrates spent most of his days examining the real reasons, or motivation, behind his human acts . His final act, in fact, epitomized what he was all about: Falsely sentenced to death for corrupting the youth and not believing in the ancestral gods, Socrates, rather than suffer exile from the Athens he loved so much, willingly and with his own hand ended his life with a drink of deadly hemlock. Plato and Xenophon, Socrates' main biographers, paint his vocation, or calling in life, as an ardent desire to help people to live life to the fullest; that is, to live in conformity with their human nature.

In an ancient account of philosophy there are three parts; ethics, physics, and dialectic or logic. Everyday Socrates examined his life and the life around him... Socrates used to say that we should never lead a life not subjected to examination.

The "unexamined life" i.e. the life lived in disobedience to the exhortation "know thy self", is the opposite of the life Socrates tried to live, and in that sense 'I know' = 'I have learned' or 'I have discovered' that I am without wisdom. Socrates knew that he was without wisdom because he had questioned [examined] himself and questioned [examined] all others he could find who were said to be wise, and nowhere did he find the wisdom that he has sought, 'wisdom' meaning here: knowledge of the correct way for a human being to live, knowledge of the particular excellence that is appropriate to human nature.

Thus Socrates introduced the ethics part of philosophy and this makes me wonder that if we as people do not question our selves and live the life of human excellence that we beleive to be exceptable after questioning ones self, are we living a "fullfilled life"? If we do not examine our lives and better them, then are our lives worth living?


  1. Terrific Post! I have been examining my life. There were trials and tribulations, and yet I seek the wisdom to better it. With obstacles in the way, progress has been slow.

    Thus I constantly psyche myself that life is worth living ... for my son and family.

    Life is never perfect, you just have to believe that your life is as fulfilling as it gets.

    If not, mine is truly wretched.

  2. Human Excellence is living totally for others, selfless in thinking and giving and translating into action. I can only strive to walk in that path a little bit at a time according to my ability. But as long as I do and try constantly, no matter how small, whether it be for child, elder or colleague, I believe that is all God asks of me. Thank you for the post.

  3. You're welcome. I haven't really figured out what i beleive to be human excellence, but I do beleive selflessness is a great part of it. Sometimes it's just hard for me to wrap my mind around living completely for others. I just can't grasp such a high expectation as a reasnable way to live.