The Philosophic Life: A Questionnaire

Are you prepared to come to terms with the fact that they do not and will not want you, forever?

Do you have the strength to accept that you will be hated, resented, or ridiculed by everyone who cannot understand what you do — while simultaneously knowing that almost no one alive will ever understand what you do?

Have you overcome and dispensed with all the trivialities of philosophy as a hobby, a pastime, an interest, a popular guru, a YouTube channel, a set of self-satisfied superior airs, a cherry-picked collection of “ancient wisdom,” or a Frenchified smoking session of cafĂ© intellectualism? 

Can you forego everything your age cares about, reject everything your compatriots cling to, and resist all the temptations your society will use to lure you into its world and away from your own? And can you do this not once, on a brave or pugnacious day, but every day, for the rest of your life, and with full understanding of how profoundly alone a man must be willing to be who would forego, reject, and resist his surroundings this way?

Can you accept all of the above without bravado, without performative self-certainty, without showmanship or pretense, without audience or applause, without a hundred convenient little hypocrisies, and above all without performing it for yourself

Do you understand, not in an abstract academic way, but emotionally and tangibly in your daily life and experience, that the Socrates of Plato’s Apology is not an ancient symbol detached from the real substance of your life today, but rather exemplifies the very experience you will have, the trial and judgment you must face, if you would live the philosophic life in any way that comes into contact with others in your community, that is seen to affect others, and most dangerously of all, that attracts or inspires others? And will you stand accused without flinching, and acknowledge your condemnation disdainfully but ironically, without succumbing to their desire to see you weaken, apologize, or beg for forgiveness? Will you look into the indignant or resentful eyes of your judges and recommend they give you free meals for life as your just “punishment”?

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