Almost everyone thinks philosophy is boring and irrelevant, possibly of intellectual interest to people who have nothing practical to do with their lives. But is this just another myth to deflect us from the truth? Can a real jewel be so smeared that it passes unnoticed?
Many people are enslaved to its power without even knowing the meaning of the word. Few appreciate what a useful science it is. A science that enables us to live a life on earth.
You need Philosophy if you want to leave the Matrix, to take control of your life and to thrive. You need it if you want to zoom out and see the big picture. And you need it if you want to understand how men are influenced and controlled.
You couldn’t function as a human being without a philosophy. It determines your view of the world, it affects your thinking, and therefore your choices, and therefore your life.
What is philosophy?
Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. The philosophical premises that we hold affect our understanding of reality, of what is possible and what is not, of what is good and what is not. Our understanding of ‘the way things are’ has a massive bearing upon how we choose to live, what we will put up with, what limitations and suffering we will accept. Popular catchphrases, unless critically scrutinised have the power to become beliefs. (life is suffering; you must sacrifice for others; you cannot be sure of anything; it maybe true for you, but not for me; The heart is superior to the head, selfishness is evil, etc.)
There are 5 branches of Philosophy
- Metaphysics – the study of the nature of reality. Metaphysics deals with questions such as; Where am I? What is real? What is the nature of reality?
- Epistemology – the study of knowledge and how we know things. Epistemology asks questions such as; What is knowledge; How do I know?
- Ethics – what is the right way for man to act. Ethics sets out to define a code of moral values that determine the purpose and course of man’s life. It addresses the question ‘What should I do?’
- Politics – what is the right way for man to interact with fellow men. It sets out to define principles on how men should best interact with each other.
- Aesthetics – The role and function of Art in man’s life. It addresses questions such as ‘What is Art and why do we need it?’
What is Philosophy for?
In the words of Ayn Rand. “The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics); the means of concretising this view is given to him by esthetics.”
She continues… “As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation—or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind’s wings should have grown.”
Why do we need it?
“Philosophy is a necessity for a rational being: philosophy is the foundation of science, the organizer of man’s mind, the integrator of his knowledge, the programmer of his subconscious, the selector of his values.”
I would add to this eloquent summary of Rand’s, that we need philosophy to help us see the Matrix, and therefore to leave it. We need philosophy to move towards intellectual sovereignty and think for ourselves and to take control of our minds. To live one’s own life, consciously, we need to consciously hold our philosophy.
As men, we need a code of values to live by. We have no innate knowledge, we are fallible and cannot rely on instincts to guide us. This is why we need morality – a code of values to guide our choices and our actions. The choices and actions that will set the course of our life.”
The current context – The Philosophy of the Matrix
The current dominant morality of western civilisation is Altruism. Mans highest moral purpose is to sacrifice ‘self’ to either the group or to God. Rational self-interest is considered evil by all three main monotheistic religions. Furthermore, the earthly realm is considered profane, vulgar, even evil, whereas the afterlife in some other reality is where we can find the good, the pure, the divine. Life is inherently suffering and respite can only be found after death.
SACRIFICE means: to exchange a greater value for a lesser one.
Earthly pleasure is damned while sacrificing on earth supposedly stores up wealth for us in heaven. Even as society becomes more secular, the morality of sacrifice simply serves the state or the group in place of a deity. The beneficiary changes but not the assumption that human being must sacrifice themselves as the moral good. The idea that this is good is cemented into peoples minds by relentless cultural signals. We have to be careful to distinguish kindness from a moral obligation of care.
So how can we flourish?
In this context of moral assumptions we try and thrive and achieve success in our lives. We spend time on our goals and invest in our selves and our businesses and our personal development. All of this is to make our lives better and to achieve our values. Yet by the standards of our cultural morality, this is selfish and therefore immoral, or evil. The result is guilt. To be practical we must be immoral, and vice versa. To be moral we must be impractical.
The moral context of today – the Matrix – is fundamentally opposed to thriving and flouring. It holds that to be selfish is evil, yet how else can we invest in ourselves and become the very best version of ourselves possible It is opposed to property rights and therefore to prosperity and freedom. The current morality of the dominant philosophy is simply up-side-down and must be consciously rejected.
A philosophy that is scientifically true
The ideas of Ayn Rand are like a breath of fresh air displacing stale centuries-old notions and turning the assumption of millennia on its head. It has been held for centuries that man is essentially a sacrificial animal. Rand shows us that there is no need for him to sacrifice himself to others or others to himself. She declares that he should pursue his own rational self-interest as his highest moral achievement. Thus securing his own happiness and fulfilment.
Listen to the Audiobook of Ayn Rands book “Philosophy, Who Needs It?” below.
Philosophy is the base of all science, and it too can be approached with scientific method. At last, we have a rational ethics and a road map towards peace freedom and abundance. Please feel free to join in the conversion or leave any questions below in the comments box.