The Making of a Philosophy Professor
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” What Socrates failed to tell us is that the examined one isn’t a whole lot better.
So he wasn’t the wisest of all men. Or if he was, he was a patronizing jerk. When I grew up, I thought to myself, I wouldn’t be a patronizing jerk. I’d tell people straightforwardly, without irony or obfuscation, what a pathetic ruse life was. I’d tell them that living was a euphemism for dying slowly, that life was an incurable disease that was ultimately fatal. So what if I was only 12?
This is what happens when your older brother, home from university, leaves his copy of Plato’s Apology on the back of the toilet. He goes on to become the doctor that he’s supposed to. And you become a philosophy professor.
I’m sure that I wasn’t alone in my understanding of life’s meaninglessness, but I remember being surprised that more kids didn’t seem affected by it. Maybe they, like Socrates, just didn’t want to talk about it. Did they not experience the monotony of class and lunch, class and lunch, day after day? Did they not experience recess as a sadistic lie? Sadistic because it was either too painful or too short (you pick), and a lie because it was meant to provide some respite from the monotony. If they did, they weren’t saying.