Concept map your life to check if you are doing what is meaningful to you

Philosophy as a Way of Life
7 min readMay 21, 2021
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Have you ever made a concept map? If not, you may be missing out on one of the most widely used and effective learning tools available today. A concept map is a diagram that helps you visualize your own understanding of whatever subject matter you happen to be interested in.

Although concept mapping can be done in a variety of ways, the typical structure begins with a core concept at the center top of the diagram. A number of high-level sub-concepts are then connected to the central one by arrows, often with words that help specify how the connections works. Further down there may be multiple levels of sub-sub-concepts, directly or indirectly connected to the level(s) above. Here, for instance, is a very simple concept map about concept mapping (from this site):

Concept mapping is used at all levels of the educational curriculum, from elementary to graduate school, and its usefulness is limited only by the imagination of the user. For instance, I have drawn concept maps of technical papers I’ve read, or of books, or even of individual book chapters. In order to concept map a particular topic you have to understand it fairly well, and if you don’t your gaps in understanding will become immediately clear, giving you guidance about what you need to revisit or delve into more deeply.

The application of concept mapping I wish to discuss today, however, is of a different nature. Socrates famously said that “the unexamined life is not worth living for human beings” (Apology 38a). He may have slightly exaggerated, as we all can point out the lives of some people who were not particularly prone to philosophical self-analysis and yet who did live meaningful lives. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that self-examination is an important part of growing as a human being, which is why I keep a regular philosophical journal.

Philosophical journaling, however, is often focused on what is current in our lives, as suggested by Seneca:

“The spirit ought to be brought up for examination daily. It was the custom of Sextius when the day was over, and he had…



Philosophy as a Way of Life

by Massimo Pigliucci. Practical philosophy, science, pseudoscience & good reasoning. Complete index of articles at