Morality may seem a dull and uninteresting concept, but the reason it interests me is this. Humans do not have automatic knowledge. We need a code of values to guide our behaviour and choices if we wish to live successful and happy lives. Which particular moral code is followed, therefore, is of paramount importance in shaping society, determining its success or failure and in the achievement of personal happiness. The dominant cultural morality and associated philosophical assumptions steer civilisations and control the minds of men by determining their choices. If you want to be happy you need to know about morality.
Last week we looked at the importance of Philosophy. We have seen how we all have a philosophy – we have no choice about that. Human beings cannot function without an understanding of reality, of our human nature, and the nature of our relationship to existence. Everyone has to be their own philosopher because philosophy touches every aspect of human life. In the words of Alex Epstein “Philosophy is necessary but not sufficient”. This means it is not the answer but helps us become aware of the answers and what is necessary to thrive and flourish.
The Matrix is a metaphor
First let’s remind ourselves that we are using the idea of the ‘Matrix’ as a metaphor. I borrow the term from the 1999 film starring Keanu Reeves. I do not consider that we are living in a computer-generated reality. I hold that we live in an objective cause and effect reality independent of any consciousness, supernatural or individual. The Matrix film is a useful analogy in that it depicts an unconscious human race enslaved and giving up its values, that is having resources harvested from them. This is an accurate analogy of what is happening today throughout western civilisation.
Thrive and Flourish
We must also remind ourselves that the goal in life is to thrive. The desired end result is a fantastic life on earth across a sum of years enjoying peace, abundance, happiness, fulfilment and satisfaction. In a word, to flourish.
What is required of us to in order to thrive or flourish? Well, we have to be dedicated and committed to creating the values we need, the business we wish to start or the home we wish to build. We have to be focused on gaining the qualifications we need to acquire for that chosen career. Whatever it is that we wish to succeed in we must commit ourselves to it 100% and give it all of our attention. No personal development coach or self-help guru would advocate part-time attention to one’s goals. No personal coach would advise that we spend most of our time helping others on the grounds that it is our moral duty to do so!
Dominant Cultural Philosophy
The Matrix is the cultural download that most people plug into. In order to live a life on earth, you have to know what to do. Our proper means of survival is our faculty of reason and ability to think conceptually. However, most people simply look sideways and copy what everyone else does. In the absence of thinking for ourselves, we have to go with the herd. There is no other choice. So what is the philosophy of the herd? What are the most important and influential things that everybody believes?
In spite of the scientific and industrial revolutions based upon reason and empirical evidence, there is a rising tide of subjectivism. Ever since Emmanuel Kant published his “critique of pure reason” at the time of the birth of the USA subjectivism has been challenging the notion of an objective reality.
From the same period and before the dominant ethics (or morality) has been Altruism. It is a term coined by Auguste Comte whose literal translation would be ‘other-ism’. It is the morality of self-sacrifice. This idea is way older than Comte and is rooted in all 3 monotheistic religions. Way back in history sacrifice was made to the tribe, more recently it has been to God or other deities, and nowadays that moral duty of sacrifice is collected by society or the State.
Alongside the moral code of sacrifice to God we have inherited mysticism. Since it has long been held by philosophers that a code of values could not be derived from the facts of reality using reason, morals were the prevail of religion and handed down by God to his ‘representatives’ on earth. Religions advocate faith because there are no facts that support the existence of God. Faith is all you have if the facts do not support your claim. Mysticism is directly opposed to reason. The implicit message of mysticism is that man’s mind is not competent to know reality.
All of this account for why in politics we cafe the rise of socialism, statism, and collectivism. Individuals are sacrificed to the group. This all stands against flourishing and thriving given that we need to be free in order to flourish, we need to be able to act on our judgment. And we need to be able to be self-centred, to be concerned with our own rational self-interest.
Outside the Matrix
To break out of the madness we need to turn this conventional philosophy on its head. To see the Matrix is to leave it. Philosophy gives you the eyes to see it. Mainstream morality has been unchallenged for millennia until Ayn Rand turned it on its head by asking fundamental questions. Check out how to bust the many myths within the matrix using the ideas of Ayn Rand in Episode 38 of “Living outside the Matrix”.
Outside the Matrix is the road to peace freedom and abundance rooted in the following philosophical premises.
- In Metaphysics the Primacy Of Existence or objective reality; summarised by “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so”.
- In Epistemology Reason is mans only guide to knowledge and therefore action; summarised by “You can’t eat your cake and get to keep it too”.
- In Ethics self-interest; summarised by “man is an end in himself”. he must be free to live for his own sake.
Useful Web Sites: For your reference:
Recommended Ayn Rand Non fiction:
(These are affiliate links, I get a few pence if you buy one)
- For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
- The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism
- Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
- The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature
- Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
- Philosophy: Who Needs It
- The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought
I hope you got some value from this post. Please feel free to join in the conversation and leave a comment below.