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November 8, 2018 / Congau

Anything Goes?

“Decide for yourself.” That seems to be the mantra of today’s popular philosophy. “I can’t tell you what works for you. Only you know what is best for yourself.” There are no rules, they say. Do whatever pleases you. Anything goes.

If there is no point, no purpose to our life, if anything goes, then why even bother to do philosophy? Anyone who tries to philosophize ever so much about how they should live, will run into a contradiction if they deny any purpose from the outset. The “should” already implies an assumption about how things are.  Since it is like this, it should be like that. Since that individual is a carpenter, he should build houses. Since you are the person that you are, you should do certain things, that is, you have a purpose.

It is very possible to be wrong about oneself. You may think you are a duck, but that doesn’t make you one. You may think you would like to reach a certain goal, but once you get there you realize you don’t like it. What you think works for you, may prove to be totally unworkable.

You cannot become just anything. You have certain potentials in you that may or may not be fulfilled. If you try to go beyond what is in you, if you attempt to be something that is not in accordance with yourself, it will not work.

Yes, by all means, do what works for you. But that is not the same as saying that anything you may happen to choose is right for you and that anything you decide is the right decision. It is quite the opposite. There are only a limited number of choices that could possibly work for you and anything beyond that would be a bad decision.

Encouraging people always to decide for themselves gives the illusion that anything goes. There are indeed certain rules and guidelines that philosophers and psychologists have come up with that would clearly recommend one course of action if you want to fulfill your purpose. And there is always one purpose to all your actions, isn’t there? You want to be happy.

Different things make different people happy, but there is one common denominator: Be true to yourself. And where do you find that truth? Well, that’s the tricky part. Just don’t think you can do just anything.

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