Philosophy = Learning How to Die

Philosophy = Learning How to Die June 19, 2012

Maybe you’ve been reading about Pete Rollins’s Pyro-Theology. If you like that, you should also be reading Kester Brewin‘s Pirate Theology. He’s got a great post about it today:

‘to philosophize is to learn how to die.’

That really struck me when I read it, and Critchley goes on to expand a little on that in the piece, especially in relation to love, which draws the possibly selfish philosophical attitude to death out of itself and into relationship with another person. Critchley’s – and Socrates’ – point is this: by carefully considering what life is about, we are better able to consider what our own life means, so that when it comes to the end of our life, whenever that might be, we are better prepared to step into the void beyond.

Pete Rollins tweeted something on these lines yesterday too:

‘Coming to terms with the death that signals the end of life seems easier to me than coming 2 terms with the deaths that happen while we live…’

Musing on that today, I was reminded of Socrates’ other famous adage that

‘the unexamined life is not worth living.’

I have been thinking how that fits with the above, for it might seem that, while the unexamined life may be unenlightened or not well thought out, it at least doesn’t get forced to drink hemlock. The examined life, the one that is worth living, actually turns out to be a lot of trouble, because it throws up difficult questions about our place in the world and our relationship to those around us, and to our closely held beliefs too.

So perhaps Socrates should have continued: the unexamined life is not worth living, but the examined life may come at too high a price.

via Kester Brewin » Is ‘The Examined Life’ Worth It? | Philosophy, Theology and Death.

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  • And we should be reading Critchley! His newest “Faith of the Faithless” is the philosophy AND theology book of the year, if you ask me.

    • Here, here! It’s a fabulous book, and the great thing about Critchley is that his prose is clear and well-structured without being reductionistic. He even makes Heidegger relatively understandable.

  • Tree

    Shoot, this comes across as a mere teaser of an intro to something longer and fascinating…

  • Been thinking along those same lines. In part motivated by Rollins, but mostly as I and a small group of others have been commiting to a nightly prayer of examen (which iPhone likes to autocorrect to ‘ramen’).

  • Evelyn

    I think this post should be about the examined >social< life. You can live an examined life without getting yourself killed as long as you know when and with whom you can speak your mind and when and with whom you need to keep your mouth shut.

  • Reminds of one from the 70’s “The truth shall set you free, but first it will “. That’s the church version. Some days, today in fact, I’d like to be that old guy who still lives in the small town where he went to High School, with a really cool car, driving up and down the strip, but I had to go and find out how the world works, I had to care about starving children. Once you embrace that, you can’t run from it.

  • Chuck

    The unexamined life is a happy one. The over-examined life means no one wants to be around you because you bore everyone to death.

  • Craig

    On the examined life and death, I found this Boston Review article helpful, and its content even liberating: