Reflection 263: Unexamined Life

May 17, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin

The dialogues of Plato provide one contiguous illustration of a loop of engagement in action. One theme, one personality at a time, Plato presents detailed arguments in support of the need to doubt and examine one’s own beliefs in order to attempt a worthy life based on truth, not misjudgment or error.

This blog illustrates my own quest to meet the same challenge.

My book on consciousness is another example of the same effort to answer the eternal question, How do I know that I know what I think I know? Living a life of harmony and integrity depends on making a personal commitment to self-doubt and self-reflection in order to achieve a transparent view of oneself.

Socrates was put to death for asking fellow citizens to self-administer the same test to avoid living hollow lives in imitation of false standards of excellence. But self-assurance and self-doubt are hard to maintain in one mind, so Socrates paid the full price for even raising the issue. As did Jesus many years later.

Calling attention to the difference between living an original in contrast to an imitative life is risky in any era. Orthodox or right-answer people have no room for doubt in their minds. Self-doubt is anathema to the image of personified wisdom and authority they strive to present. So they build systems around themselves in which being rich or powerful passes for being wise. With pretenders in charge, is it a surprise to discover we live in the modern world, such as it is?

We live in an age that reveres sham and deceit where appearance is all, accomplishment counts for little, and the solution to every problem is to apply money in great wads.

Do I sound the least bit jaded? If so, my answer to such a situation is to do all I can to know myself as I am, so to avoid falling in with the crowd. I keep on blogging and writing and self-examining to protect myself against the current plague of self-deception.

I can’t have much effect on other minds, but at least I can face into myself through a weekly round of self-reflection as I am here conducting out in the open before your eyes. The more we personally take on that task, the more powerful we become through self-understanding.

The moral of my tale is we are the ones we have been waiting for. Since we’re already here, if we have complaints, we might as well start looking for solutions within, not without, ourselves. Don’t look to authority to draw you out of the mire, but do it yourself step-by-step. A few days ago I was wallowing in the muck of Muddy Cove; today I stand on dry ground. I call that progress because I am a larger man for making the effort. I maintain this blog as a means of keeping my book up-to-date. Keep on, keep on as long as you can. To the future, then.

How are you doing in this big world of ours? Y’r friend, –Steve

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