The Pursuit of Meaning Essay

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The Pursuit of Meaning After reaching a guilty verdict in the case of the people vs. Socrates concerning the charges of corrupting the youth and impiety, the jury invites Socrates to propose an alternate punishment opposed to the death penalty suggested by Melatus. Socrates insists he cannot do so, as he wronged no one and thus cannot wrong himself by deciding upon a punishment when, if anything, he deserves a reward for urging his fellow Athenians to strive for moral excellence through self-examination. He also dismisses the alternative punishments presented by the jury, including imprisonment and banishment. Most importantly, Socrates refuses to give up philosophizing, making the famous point that “an unexamined life is no life for a human being to live” (Plato). Philosophers throughout history have illustrated similar conclusions, as presented in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and through Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy, where Descartes risks his personal happiness and comfort by discarding all his beliefs of the world in order to discover what one can truly know, the ultimate examination of life. The pursuit of meaning is what makes humans distinctly human and sets us apart from other animals that live solely for securing basic needs and obtaining pleasure. A person could very well live a life without meaning and maintain overall feelings of “happiness,” but this would be to live a self-serving life that overall serves no real purpose. Humans must use their potential to serve a purpose greater than themselves, and in doing so, they will achieve a greater form of happiness that results from satisfaction of a life spent fully and for the benefit of others, which ultimately makes life worthwhile. Purpose is only discovered through self-examination and questioning the world. A recent article published in The Atlantic headlined “There’s More

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