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Posted 15 November 2010 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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Define your personal philosophy and make it clear to everyone.
Tell them exactly what you believe in and why.

Definition of personal philosophy

Your personal philosophy is the most important thing about you.
It is the sum-total of all that you believe in.
Thus, it affects every action and decision you make.

Your personal philosophy governs how you feel: whether you are optimistic about the future, or pessimistic.

It determines your relationships (how you see yourself in relation to others).
It impacts on your profitability, (because your philosophy will tell you what limits you believe you should impose on your actions).
It affects your ability to function productively in a team (because your philosophy will include your ideas on where you "fit in" in terms of status and social hierarchy).
It affects your levels of confidence (because your philosophy controls your views on such issues as luck, logic and certainty).

Your personal philosophy will even determine your religious beliefs because it includes your beliefs on the question of the existence or nonexistence of a "Controlling consciousness".

And the degree of your acceptance of "Faith" as a means of knowing
(Faith is defined as "Belief in the absence of direct observation, logical proof or rational theory").
Your personal philosophy may be broken down into the following subset categories:

It is your set of ideas concerning:

  1. What exists, and what does not. (Metaphysics and Theology)
  2. How you can know it, (Epistemology, logic)
  3. By what moral code you should live, (Ethics, morals)
  4. How you relate to others in society: And how they relate to you. (Politics)
  5. How (if) you should earn your own money (and who should disposes of it once it is earned, i.e. you or the state?) (Economics)
  6. And how you should best to express yourself artistically. (Aesthetics)

You already have ideas on:

  • Theology
  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Ethics
  • Politics
  • Economics
  • Aesthetics

But

Because you developed your philosophy over a long period of time (twenty, thirty years or more) and because it was done piece-meal, and because it was build up from information taken from many and varied sources, then, a large part of your philosophy is:

  1. Sub-conscious.
  2. In parts unknown, to even yourself.
  3. And a mixed bag of miscellaneous and contradictory fragments.

As one philosophy student said:

"A persons philosophy should be a set of principles that serves either as a correct description of reality or as a guideline to successful action. Considering the fact that the self-proclaimed experts have never provided a consistent, rational theory for living, it is little wonder that so many remain painfully bewildered".

It would be better if you could sort it all out: Decide what ideas you should retain and which you should discard.

Then you would have a philosophy that was:

  1. Fully self-conscious
  2. Fully known and worked out by yourself (not handed to you by others to be accepted without question)
  3. Self consistent (Non contradictory)

Ayn Rand said it like this:

"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."

Let us try to impose some order on chaos:

Let us start by working on ONE category: Your views on how to gain knowledge: Epistemology

How do you know?

Check the method: the epistemology

Epistemology (Greek episteme, "knowledge"; logos, "theory"), is the branch of philosophy that addresses the problems surrounding knowledge. Epistemology is concerned with the definition of knowledge, the sources of knowledge, and the kinds of knowledge possible. I.e. how do you know that what you believe in is actually true?

Look at the list below:

To what degree (out of ten) do you think you can believe in the following means of gaining knowledge?

  1. Direct sense perception /10
    Belief based upon the direct evidence of the senses: Sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing
  2. Reason and logic /10
    Belief built on logical, inductive/deductive reasoning from a base provided by sense perception.
  3. Majority Opinion /10
    Belief based upon the consensus or the majority view.
  4. Faith /10
    Belief in the absence of direct sense perception or logical proof.
    Belief based on revelation from God or from his agents or from sacred text.
  5. Intuition - gut feel /10
    Belief based upon "gut feelings"
    Intuition has been defined as "sixth sense"- a form of innate knowledge
    5a Intuition - unconscious knowledge
    Intuition has been defined as "unconscious knowledge asserting itself".
  6. Social Status /10
    Belief based upon the guidance of authority figure.
    (Authority derived from social standing, i.e. celebrity,
    Divine prerogative i.e. royalty,
    Political power. i.e. Government officials
    6 a Status Specialised knowledge
    Status gained virtue of specialised knowledge (i.e. Einstein on physics)
  7. Mysticism /10
    Belief based on supernatural revelation, or insight. (For example, the spirit world, tarot etc.)
  8. Tradition /10
    "Belief based upon timed honoured practice".
  9. Whim/Emotionalism /10
    Belief in whatever you think will make you happy.
  10. Scepticism /10

Scepticism is the rejection of the concept of "belief". Nobody can know anything. Knowledge and certainty are impossible.

Look at this list and ponder your answers.

What can you count on: Your direct sense perception and Logic?

What should you not count on: Majority opinion, traditional authorities?
Keep working on this until you have your best answers.

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