The Examined Life

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The Examined Life
The Examined Life, first edition.jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorRobert Nozick
CountryUnited States
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)

The Examined Life is a 1989 collection of philosophical meditations by the philosopher Robert Nozick.[1] The book drew a number of critical reactions. The work is drawn partially as a response to Socrates assertion in Plato's "The Apology of Socrates" that the unexamined life is one not worth living[2][3]


The book is an attempt to "tackle human nature, the personal, 'the holiness of everyday life' and its meaning."[4] Nozick expresses his concerns with libertarianism and proposes some form of inheritance taxation.[5][6]


Denis Donoghue praised The Examined Life in The Wilson Quarterly, but stated that it had some passages that were less strong than others.[2] The journalist Jane O'Grady called the work "disappointingly schmaltzy" in The Guardian.[4]

In The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2005), the philosopher Anthony Quinton described The Examined Life as "unkindly treated".[7]


  1. ^ Capaldi, Nicholas (1998). The Enlightenment Project in the Analytic Conversation. Springer. p. 371. ISBN 9780792350149.
  2. ^ a b Donoghue, Denis (Spring 1990). "The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations by Robert Nozick (review)". The Wilson Quarterly. 14 (2): 92–94. JSTOR 40258049.
  3. ^ "Apology", Plato: Euthyphro; Apology of Socrates; and Crito, Oxford University Press, 1924-01-01, retrieved 2021-09-21
  4. ^ a b O' Grady, Jane (January 26, 2002). "Robert Nozick: Leftwing political philosopher whose rightward shift set the tone for the Reagan-Thatcher era". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Wolff, Jonathan (1991). Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 156. ISBN 0-8047-1856-3.
  6. ^ Guido Erreygers, Toon Vandevelde (1997). Is Inheritance Legitimate?: Ethical and Economic Aspects of Wealth Transfers. Springer. p. 8. ISBN 9783540627258.
  7. ^ Quinton, Anthony (2005). Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 740. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.