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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Personal Life Philosophy of Khrystine Kelsey

In a speech given at West Point Military Academy, author Ayn Rand espouses the reasons one must adopt a life philosophy. The components of philosophy are the most basic questions, one must answer them in order to think, act or survive. According to Rand, the components of philosophy are metaphysics (who/what/where am I?), epistemology (how do I know?), and ethics (how should I behave?) with its subcategories of politics (how shall I behave in relation to others?) and aesthetics (what ideas, images, and inventions/creations will I support, utilize and enjoy?) Using this outline, I will attempt to explain my own life philosophy as clearly as possible.

Who, what and where am I? As a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I feel this question is best answered by the following statement from the Church’s library: “We are daughters [and sons] of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.” I adhere to the belief that I am a literal spiritual offspring of a God and Goddess and that it is my destiny, should I live up to it, to become a Goddess in my own right. I have been placed specifically on the earth at this time and in this situation to follow that destiny. We humans are “god[s] in embryo.”

How do I know? Assuming the main goals of existence are joy and self-actualization (to be examined later), how do we know our metaphysics and actions are correct? We generally experience and interpret the world through three ways; that is action, emotion, and rational thought. If we wish to reach correct conclusions, it is best we give all these interpreters due consideration.

Action is necessary to a long life and for most healthy humans, a happy one. We must take the action of eating in order to survive for example. Action is the center of our experience because it is both a result and a cause of our thoughts and emotions. We desire to kiss our boyfriend, we commit the action and enjoy it, and therefore we desire to do it again. Action without thought, however, is often harmful and stunts progress. (It is doubtful whether one can act without emotion as there is likely at least a desire to perform the act.) If one discovers fire, burns oneself, and out of fear never utilizes that power again, many developments may never be reached (such as light, warmth, cooked food). Truths one discovers through action are called self-evident.

Emotion is important to consider chiefly because it is undeniable. Everyone experiences emotion except possibly severely disordered people such as psychopaths. Emotion is what creates our desires, it seems directly connected to physicality (e.g. the body needs sustenance; this prompts the desire to eat.) With this in mind however, emotion is not purely the body (as is action) nor purely the mind (as is reason) but seems to mediate between them. For example without the emotions of love or compassion, when one feels the desire to eat one could simply steal another human’s food. Emotion seems to me the chief component in moral decisions. If something feels wrong, chances are it is and ones mind has not been able to explain it yet , nor ones body to know what action to take. It is emotion however that is most dependent on the other two faculties of knowledge. On an individual level, it is emotion that should be strongly examined. Emotion and action without reason may result in crimes of passion and further unhappiness, emotion and reason without action leads to non-productivity and, again, further unhappiness.

Reason is the champion of our age and rightly so. Most decisions that lead to happiness and productivity are largely founded on reason, and it continues to be the driving force in society. All conclusions should indeed make logical sense. If action is the way in which we progress and emotion our motivation for doing so, reason is the language we speak. It is the cornerstone of our actions as it is ultimately what decides if the action will result in further happiness. It finds the best way to express or satisfy our emotions. Many philosophers grant reason supremacy, as it is the clearest and most necessary way of dealing with each other. Like action and emotion however, it is also dependent on the other members of the experience trinity. As Aristotle’s syllogism demonstrates, reason can quickly lose credence if founded on false or faulty premises. For example, take the faulty premise that all women like to cook. While cooking may be an activity with many merits most rational beings can appreciate, it is very risky to say that all women enjoy doing so. If we take this premise as true and add the self evident premise that Monique is a woman, we can conclude that Monique likes to cook. But what evil will be wrought when we force Monique to spend time cooking, when she does not derive pleasure from it! That may sound extreme until we consider the following.

The Aryan race is innately supreme to all other races. Science declares this as false, the DNA of one race is not any stronger or weaker than another. But let us take this false premise and play with it. Adolph is of the Aryan race, Elie is not. Therefore Adolph is innately superior to Elie. This follows the logic, does it not? Yet our emotional center is becoming queasy. Adolph, on this false premise executes Elie and six-million or so other non-Aryans. This is the perfect example of why we must employ reason and listen to our emotions and body. An SS officer beats a Jewish woman; he throws up afterwards and feels an unknown guilt. His body, his feelings show him something is wrong, if he only he would use his reason to check his premises…

Aristotle aims to prevent this by having all logic stem from definition. E.g. All animals are living things of such a type that are endowed with traits which allow them to flourish. Human is an animal. Human possess traits of reason, emotion, and ability to act. Human endowed with reason, emotion and ability will flourish. This brings us to the next question.

How should I behave? So we now have a basic compass to guide our behavior. Is the action possible? Does it “feel right”? Does it make sense? Now we check that we are not rationalizing. Is it truly impossible, or is it that I don’t desire it? Do I really feel good about the decision or is it just easier? Does this course really make sense or am I avoiding certain facts? All these questions of course tie directly back in to metaphysics. Who are we? Where are we? Even wearing a sweater doesn’t pass this test if we’re somewhere hot and humid in July. It also begs the better question, what is the purpose?

If we are on Earth training to be Gods and Goddesses, what other purposes does that imply? If we are going to be omnipotent, omniscient beings, we have the purpose to learn. In the Old Testament God says “I AM THAT I AM” to Moses. If we too are to be Gods and Goddesses, we must know ourselves completely, be our best potential most perfect selves. In my religion we also believe that “Men are, that they might have joy.” We can add from this three other things to consider. Will this action increase my knowledge? Will it ultimately bring me joy? Is it worthy of me, an embryonic deity?

How should I behave in relation to others? The important facts to remember are that others are also pre-divine, and it is immoral to impede their education, happiness and health. However if that is unethical it is absolutely unacceptable to impede their freedom. Freedom is self-evident. Everyone must answer the basic philosophical questions, and they must answer for themselves. To destroy one’s own education, happiness, health and individuality is immoral, but is one’s own to destroy or cultivate. The taking away of freedom “for one’s own good” is a contradiction in terms. No matter how ethical one may seem to behave, limiting their freedom will limit their capacity for education. It will limit their capacity for happiness. It will entirely eradicate their divine individuality. Freedom must never be limited. This includes individuals’ freedom to live and gain property as well. As an entitled heir or heiress of heaven we have the right to defend our property, person, and others’ properties and persons from immediate danger. This may come in the form of other countries, other people, or even our government. Those who violate others’ properties and persons must be removed from the society, as they have obviously lost respect for human dignity. We must strive for societies which protect us from these people while still allowing us as much freedom as possible.

What ideas, images, and inventions/creations will I support, utilize and enjoy? Individuality is perhaps the ultimate ideal of my philosophy. We must honor our “divine nature” and “individual worth.” It is also moral to encourage others to do so in such a way that does not limit their freedom. We can do this through our aesthetic principles. We will buy art that shows humans as beautiful and heroic. We will see plays and movies that uphold ideas such as honor, courage and freedom. We will listen to music that pleases us, that helps us to further understand ourselves. We will read what is well written, use what is efficient, wear what is beautiful and well made. When asked what we think, we shall speak. We will live in beautiful places, encourage open minds, and defend truth, freedom, and our divine individuality.






















Bibliography

Rand, A. (1982). Philosophy: Who Needs It .New York City, NY, Signet


LDS Church. (2001). Young Women Theme. http://lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b3bc55cbf541229058520974e44916a0/?vgne xtoid=ed462ce2b446c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=725fbe 335dc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1


Moyer, T.J. (1993). “The Family-Now and Forever.” Ensign. 10-12.


Ross, W. D. (1955). Aristotle Selections. NY, Charles Scribner’s Sons.


(1958). Holy Bible, King James Version. Philadelphia, PA, National Bible Press.


(1974) The Book of Mormon: Another Testament Of Jesus Christ. Salt Lake City, UT, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

3 comments:

mudderbear said...

you deseve a commoent: great job...Great paper. I wish I could figure my philosophy out to that depth and description. You should keep writing....you really write well.

mudderbear said...

commoent??????

Jak said...

Hahaha Mudder....
Great ending Khrys! I really liked that conclusion. This was very thoughtful and academically written. When I was in 12th grade, I had to write my life philosophy for an assignment. It was no where as in depth as this! Wow. Hmm... was going to say more but think I need to go back and read this again... you got my mind working again!