“Know Thyself. Delphic Oracle.”  This famous call to the examined life that Socrates answered and passed on to the world is reprinted on the title page of The Rule of Life, a forgotten but extraordinary book published in 1834. The book reminds us that a genre of popular literature, collections of moral maxims, helped keep alive the Socratic tradition of the examined life.

Admit not sleep into your tender eyelids till you have reckoned up each deed of the day—How have I erred, what done of left undone So start, and so review your acts, and then for the vile deeds chide yourself, for the good be glad.

—EpictetusDiscourses, III.10


Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder

—Plato Theaetetus, 155