“An axiom of intellectual traditions east and west is that scrutinizing yourself and humanity in general makes you a better person. That is, nicer, happier, wiser. As Socrates put it 2,400 years ago, “examining myself and others is the greatest good.”
This assumption, which I’ll call the Socratic principle, underpins a wide range of ideologies, from Buddhism, Confucianism and stoicism to psychoanalysis, cognitive behaviorism and evolutionary psychology. It is also the rationale for psychotherapy, meditation and humanities courses.
Self-examination leads to self-knowledge, which makes you more ethical and therefore happier, because being good means being happy, according to Socrates. Deep, sustained inquiry might even help you reach the state of supreme wisdom known as enlightenment.
If the Socratic principle is true, experts on the mind-body problem—which encompasses mind, morality, meaning and other aspects of the human condition–should be especially virtuous and serene, because their knowledge is especially deep. Right?”