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Ask yourself every day: Why am I doing this?

Posted July. 12, 2014 04:18,   


This book is not an easy read. There are no small numbers of parts where they must be read and re-read several times in order to understand one sentence. It will be even more so for readers who are not familiar with philosophical terminology and flow of thinking. This is because a Harvard University philosophy professor wrote this book, in which he contemplates on 26 themes.

So in reading this book persistence is needed. Pondering each sentence and carefully tracking the author’s thinking, the contents of this book enter the brain one by one. Once you get used to the flow of writing, it appears less difficult.

The 26 questions the writer poses are simple but penetrate the center of our lives. They are not questions for speculation but questions that we can feel in everyday life. They are, however, questions that we have easily given up as the answers are difficult to get.

How would you answer the question, why is happiness not the only important thing in life?

To that end, endless questions come one after another. Is happiness the only value in life? What state does happiness mean? Is it true happiness when a happy situation is realized? Or is humanity happier when waiting for happiness to be realized? If we lower our standards for happiness, would we be happy despite difficult circumstances? Does being happy always mean being happy truly?

The writer also allocates the most quantity on happiness and tracks it down in each of their aspects.

The author’s conclusion is, that we might say we want to be happy each moment but it is unclear whether we endlessly want such moments or whether we want our lives to be filled only with such moments. What we really want is not happiness itself but a life that we can respond to happiness, and that ego.

Whether to agree to that conclusion is up to the reader. However, while following the footsteps of the author’s thinking the reader can unravel the twine of the reader’s own.

The author’s questions are endless. What is problematic with individuals’ obsession on money and power? Can believers explain why God allowed the existence of evil? What is particularly valuable while love changes an individual? What is wisdom, and why do philosophers love wisdom? How should we understand the rift between the ideal and reality?

The categorization of the questions falls into 26, but in each category, the questions keep branching out and make hundreds of other questions. That is the virtue of this book, as it does not make an obvious conclusion or an unclear conclusion but instead acknowledges its limits while expanding to the max the scope of thinking, thereby clearly presenting its conclusion unique to the book.

Robert Nozick became a full professor of philosophy at Harvard at the age of 30. The American Psychological Association in 1998 named him Joseph Pellegrino University Professor and called him “one of the most brilliant and original living philosophers.”

He made the case for liberty of ownership than distributive justice and economic egalitarianism and created the golden age of libertarianism. In real life, he is said to have had great influence on former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Yet these evaluations are not important at all in appraising the value of this book. The original title of this book is “The Examined Life.” He does not 100 percent agree with Socrates’s saying that the `unexamined life is not worth living,` saying it is too harsh. On the other hand, when we lead our lives through deep thinking we get to live “our own lives,” not others’ lives, and that a life not examined is insufficient.