Red Pill Or Blue Pill? Happiness And The Examined Life
In the clip “Red Pill or Blue Pill?” from the movie the Matrix (a film of high philosophical value, despite the unfortunate casting of Keanu Reeves), the character played by Keanu Reeves is faced with a difficult choice: does he want to pursue the truth (red pill)—even though the truth may be unsettling and hard to live with—or remain in ignorance (blue pill)? He courageously opts for the former, in spite of the uncertainty. In a sense, by enrolling in this course, you have made a similar choice to bravely pursue the examined life, take the red pill.
But what is the connection to happiness? Socrates famously proclaimed that the “unexamined life is not worth living,” and heroically sacrificed his life for his beliefs. Socrates was convinced that the only road to genuine happiness is a philosophical life of critical reflection and self-examination in pursuit of truth. Subsequent theorists, however, have expressed more doubt regarding this supposed link between happiness and the examined life. For example, the author Robert Fulghum laments, “the examined life is no picnic.” Indeed, I’m sure you’re familiar with another popular dictum expressing similar scepticism: “ignorance is bliss.”
So, what is your view regarding this important question? Is the examined life conducive to happiness? Why or why not?