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Personal Philosophy

Philosophy has many definitions, the one that has captured my attention this afternoon is the concept that a philosophy defines the ideas by which a person chooses to live their life. Now, we may question for just a moment this concept. Do people actually spend time to define their philosophy and if they do not then what?

This is the thought that I pondered today. I was thinking, if I had a concrete set of ideas that governed the way I lived my life then that would bring a sense of peace and assurance. However, I also came to the conclusion that we all have a personal philosophy whether we defined it or not. We gain it over time and yes, we can be hypocritical. The point is that as we mature we get input from a variety of sources, parents, extended family, friends, clubs, religions, associations, schools, employers. They all server as influencers in how we might define a personal set of ideas that govern our day to day decision.

The concerning thought here is that most of us go through our lives with out being consciously aware of this and therefore have an unstated philosophy that is dictating to us how we act in a given situation. Is that scary?

I think the better concept, and one that gives me a sense of direction and purpose is the fact that I could if I was so inclined, sit down and record my ideas, my philosophy and make a conscious decision to adopt them or not. Perhaps modify a bit, now that I have clearly defined them. Without some conscious thought, I run the danger of a group, system, or individual having a tremendous and potentially undue influence on my actions.

This is why religion has served such a major function in world history. Without religion, where would be? Left to our own devices, what human is actually going to sit down and contemplate the principles and rules by which they will govern their lives? They usually will not, and consequently will define their actions by a crude set of concepts that have at their root a very primal instinct. I eat because I am hungry, I reproduce when I feel the urge, I kill when I am threatened and the list goes on. Left to this natural man type of state, and society is chaos pretty quickly. Society, therefore, has had to create a series of boundaries, guidelines for living life. Philosophers, as it were, have played a very critical role in defining these ideas. In early society it was religion that afforded people the time to actually engage in this level of thought, because prior to this the daily struggle was enough to keep people focused on the immediate concerns.

You may have a religion, and if you do, pay particular note to the philosophy it sets out on how to live your life. Do you agree with them, why? Example, a religion may teach that abstinence from sexual relationships until an established agreed upon situation has developed, called Marriage for most societies. Modern society does a giant eye roll at this concept, but if you really contemplate the reason behind the principle it makes a lot of sense for maintaining a productive, healthy, and in tact social structure. You can extend this to many areas. Most religions have dietary recommendations, guidance on family structure, guidelines for priorities in life, etc.

In the absence of religion, or perhaps in addition to it, have you considered what your philosophy is. Do you have a set of guiding principles by which you can make decisions in your life? I started thinking through mine. What a tough, yet meaningful exercise. “Treat others like you would want to be treated.” This is a trite phrase, but in context with my personal philosophy, takes on a completely different impact.

Guy Reams

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