Everyone, at one time or another, has had an insight into truth that was profoundly illuminating. Everyone has had a taste of supreme beauty. Everyone has had some peak experience of genuine goodness. In what way can we cultivate a life of truth, beauty, and goodness? This book was written to begin to answer that question. It was written for a very broad audience, so I simplified a lot, while still saying things that I thought were true and important, and I am still pleased with much of what is in here. Failing to find a publisher, in 2003 I put this version on the web and started producing chapters of a more academic nature.
A caveat. Any particular formulation of philosophy, especially in bulleted lists, is likely to become static. Moreover, the project of constructing a new philosophy of living is a group project, not an individual affair. Nevertheless, since personality is a mystery beyond philosophic comprehension, however, since each main theme—truth, beauty, and goodness—culminates in an enhanced experience of personality relationships, and since the “categories” here are doors, not dogmas, I hope this sketch may help you go beyond this site.
Here's a transcript of a presentation applying the philosophy of living to the theme, "Joyous Living."
Here's a preface for the student and an introduction.
Refining our initial sense of reality, we develop our awareness of fact with the aid of science. In the simplest terms, scientific living boils down to working with three main ideas: fact, cause, and evolution. What are the implications in practice?
· Be alive to the surroundings, noticing things, facing facts, and determining facts with scientific care as needed. (What is a fact? What are problems surrounding the theory and practice of establishing facts well?)
· Explore causes. (What kinds of causation can we observe? What limits are there to the concept of causation?)
· Acquire a broad evolutionary perspective.
Around these habits of mind grow the virtues of scientific living.
Each one of us already has some wisdom, and we know that when we seek for more, we can find it, without ever having a final and completed result. Here is a broad method for thinking on any level, material, intellectual, or spiritual.
· Sharpen your intuition to the level of insight.
· Draw inferences from the starting points you have thus made clear.
· Form a wisdom perspective weaving diverse strands of intuition and reasoning.
· Mature concepts form through years of struggle and growth.
Our affirmations of the reality of matter, mind, and spirit are so basic that they can neither be proved nor disproved; any proof or disproof assumes too much or proves too little. Bringing the meanings of facts and the meanings of values together leads to the syntheses that occupy philosophy.
Religion is so often taken as an institutional affair, a matter of creed and ritual, but the life of religion comes through spiritual experience. The door to the truths of spiritual experience is faith. Science-centered and humanistic perspectives sometimes tell part of the story or even all of the story about what seem to be spiritual experiences. Therefore the person of faith moves in a field of adventure in which discernment grows gradually. If we say “Yes” in faith, we express our primary relationship with God in prayer, worship, and service. We may begin to relate with other persons as members in a universal family. Questions about human suffering and the plausibility of the promise of eternal life must be faced. If we attempt to think science, philosophy, and religion in an integrated way, it leads toward a new view of history and cosmology . . . and of the mysterious, wondrous, unique personality.
The more we realize truth, the more we feel the beauty of truth, and this prepares us to enjoy the beauties of nature and the arts.
Taking time in the beauties of nature allows us to enjoy the paradox that, while we somehow transcend nature, we are also a part of nature. Our sense of the beauties of nature is enhanced by input from every other area in the “map” of truth, beauty, and goodness on physical, intellectual, and spiritual levels. One of the striking beauties of nature is the capacity of the human body to enter into a system of integrated living, beyond the conflict of the spirit and the flesh, where self-mastery regarding physical impulses show our marvelous potentials as many-dimensioned beings.
There are fun arts (gardening, play, sports, humor) as well as fine arts that engage us on an emotional level and lead the mind into some high thought. Reflections on these topics culminate in reflections on the art of living, from personal grooming and keeping an orderly home and workplace, to the vigorous attitudes needed for challenges.
We usually experience the art of living more like improvisation with a jazz band than a solo performance of a predetermined score; but sometimes we glimpse a stretch of our lives as part of a cosmic symphony of vast grandeur.
Beauty is a gift, the value that governs the realm of feeling—from transient, material emotions to sublime feelings of soul. Beauty discloses an integrating, evolving universe. Realizing the beauty of truth prepares us to participate in the beauty of goodness.
Goodness spills over from the divine to the human.
The golden rule, viewed through many cultures and disciplines, proves to offer a great deal of guidance. The practice of the golden rule
· begins on the level of sympathetic understanding,
· moves through the philosophic recognition of duty,
· and culminates in the spiritual joy of loving service.
How can we move from duty consciousness to a spiritual quality of action?
On a foundation of morality, we can explore compromise, the mercy process, and conflict.
There are virtues connected to practices in each area of truth, beauty, and goodness. These virtues combine and unify in strong character. How does character grow? It is not particularly a self-conscious and deliberate affair. Why does love grow as we pursue truth, beauty, and goodness?
Revised September 2008