Thursday, March 27, 2008


Your “personal philosophy” is that set or system of convictions you hold regarding what matters most in life. It expresses that which you have deemed the wisest ideals to uphold and wisest courses of action to follow—“the love of wisdom” being the root meaning of philosophy.

The convictions that constitute your personal philosophy may be more or less tacit or explicit, but you possess them nonetheless, as long as you express preferences for this over that, believing the one more important than the other. But while Socrates famously claimed that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” he might have said more precisely that “unexamined convictions are not worth holding.”

An articulated and self-scrutinized system of beliefs is more authentic than hand-me-down convictions picked up from the conditioning of one’s surrounding culture, from family and society.

What we believe to be true motivates us more immediately than what is true, if truth can ever be known absolutely. And this uncertainty seems to be our central dilemma as human beings: while we wish and seek to know the reality of things, that reality seems to lie behind the veil of our conjectures and beliefs, the firmest of which we call our convictions.

Only recently in our species’ history have we developed a method of knowing (the scientific method) that yields greater accuracy and dependability in many areas of our inquiry, taking us closer to presumed truth; however, in questions not of fact but of value, we have philosophy but not science. We have convictions to be examined for how well they serve us, individually and collectively.

And that examination is, I believe, the ultimate aim of human education: discovering how to thrive, finding out what to make of ourselves and the world we live in so that our greatest potentials evolve toward the growing consciousness implicit in our unfolding universe.

And that is my personal philosophy, or the beginning of it.