Only through training do we become able to respond well . . . At the beginning [of our lives] one responds through emotions; at the end, one responds through propriety [learned through ritual]. —Anonymous (Fourth Century BCE) Nature that Emerges from the Decree
“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.