The following is excerpted from the book To Tell The Truth… Ethics Unwrapped. We will continue to provide excerpts from the book in future posts. In the meantime you may wish to read the entire book (?!)
DEVELOPING a PHILOSOPHY for LIVING
A philosophy is nothing more than a set of principles for guidance in practical affairs.
Permanent solutions to mankind’s problem(s) are realized only in the context of life—the individual or his culture—not the group. If we hope to solve the problems of life and living, we must work within the context of vital entities–humanity, community and ourselves–and not rely on institutions and groups.
The practice of philosophy has been defined as a means of thinking rationally and critically about fundamental questions of life; however, “thinking rationally” risks thinking scientifically. Science has effectively appropriated the concept of logical thinking into what’s been immortalized as “the scientific method,” limiting itself by requiring that everything be proven before being fully accepted. The fact that philosophy knows no such limits is its major strength, not its major weakness. Givens do not have to be justified. They just are.
The system of principles that we’ll deal with here involves first principles (think: givens) and the the answer to the question:
What Is the Meaning Of Life?
Who’s kidding who? Are we so presumptuous as to believe that we can really answer the question that seems to have baffled mankind since well before Year One?
If we forgo the semantic games for which philosophy is infamous, we can not only answer that question with regard to the project at hand, but we can go well beyond that.
Cutting somewhat prematurely to the chase, just what is the meaning of life? Try this for starters:
The meaning of life is living.
Before you confine me to a closet, allow me to define living in the context of this discourse. The ABCs of living can be stated:
A Acknowledging (yourself, others as individuals, humanity, and what is);
B Becoming (who you are); and the Cs –
Cs Creating (bridging the gap between becoming and the final C…)
Contributing (to both society and humanity.)
A and B have been immortalized (if incompletely) by Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” But there’s more.
Among other things, thinking verifies both the individual and his intellect, linking the physical individual with his conceptual mind. But it’s abstract. Nothing happens without doing and, since connection and progression are inevitable, living-doing inevitably follows life-being.
We might expand on Descartes with: I become, therefore I am.
This at least gets us to the point of the unique individual, but that’s not enough. Doing is applied being. The fact that you are counts only if you fully commit to all that it implies. To give Descartes’ assertion a shot of life, we might say “I act on my thoughts, therefore I am” or, more simply: I do, therefore I am.
Who you are is what you do with what you are. While what you are is beyond your control, what you do is a function of your unique self. You alone are totally accountable for what you do, making you responsible as well for who you are because you are the only one who will do what you will do as you can do it. And when you take this step, you enter the reality of creativity.
In order to articulate the meaning of life, there’s no avoiding the phenomenon of creating, because that’s what we do. If the meaning of life is living, life’s purpose is creating. And we each create in our own unique way.
You can’t help but create. The very act of living your unique life is creative. You process everything uniquely—different from the way anyone else ever did, does or ever will. That’s creative. Because you are unique, your every conscious action is unique and creative.
The basics of responsible creating are: begin with the truth (your honesty validates your self); deal with others as you would be dealt with; do no harm; trust in the givens; and accept responsibility for yourself.
So the meaning of life comes down to this: acknowledging, becoming, doing, contributing and creating, responsibly. It’s what to do. It comes down to living—morally resolving relationships between our selfs and the rest of humanity.
So, put succinctly, finally, and even reversibly: I create, therefore I am.
Think for a moment, if you will, on the awesome power of that simple assertion. This, the true meaning of life, this is your power—What more could you want?
Assuming that you want the good life, to live it you’ll have to make the right choices. [to be continued]