Saturday, December 01, 2007

Philosophy of life: Being aware

I feel like writing about philosophy again!
I think I have a different perspective from the one I used to have and I probably have a different approach as well.

A few concepts drive my own philosophy of life:
Every living being gets wiser by being aware of:
1. Limitations of a life time (time limits)
2. Limitations of a perspective (limited space perception).

1.1. Limitations of a lifetime may be an absolute one:
Awareness of aging, awareness of death translate into an "absolute" feeling that time is priceless and every lifetime is essentially unique

1.2. Limitations of a lifetime may be relative to the (known) history and expected future of the universe.
It may give a feeling of being "stuck" in a century. It may be a feeling of frustration of not understanding who were our ancestors. Were they racist bigots? Were they courageous hard-working people?
It may be a feeling of frustration of not knowing what the future will be for the children of our children... Would they have a tough life, experiencing natural disasters and nuclear wars? Would they have an amazing long life in a peaceful prosperous society, enjoying advanced technology and traveling around the solar system?

2.1. Limitations of perspective related to the size of the world
We are only seeing and hearing events that we are witnessing. Needless to say we cannot possibly witness all the events experienced by billions of people.

2.2. Limitations of perspective related to the size of the universe
We are only living in a small area on a tiny rock (called planet) located in a single solar system... located in a single galaxy... etc.

This awareness could be a cause of despair of being such an ignorant, insignificant, fragile living being.
However, here is the paradox:

We are able, as a person, to gain confidence with the thought that:
1. As time is priceless, we have no choice but using it properly by "leading a good life"
2. We have the free will to choose what it means to lead a good life
3. We may be insignificant yet we are extremely important to our partner, family, friends, colleagues. The things we do have an impact on them.

In other words, our time/space limitations should make us aware that we should make the best use of the present time to lead a good life with the few people for whom we matter.

This statement sounds like a "moral imperative" (what should we do?)
Yet I could equally ask:
Being aware of our time/space limitations, what can we know?

For the same reason, we are able to gain confidence with the thought that:
1. We can know ourself better than anyone else
2. Thanks to our own unique education background, experience and skills, we can specialize in what we do best. Our knowledge becomes useful to our colleagues, our community etc.

To summarize all these ideas, every living being becomes wiser by acknowledging space/time limitations. These limitations is not a reason for despair but a strong incentive to make sense of our lifetime because we have a significant role to play. We can improve our living condition. We also have an impact in the lives of those around us. We can know a few things better than others because of our unique background and perspective.

Yet these limitations are the reason why I don't see philosophy as ideas that work for anyone and will work for every generations!
i can only conclude that this is "my" philosophy of life.
For the same reasons, I also have deep skepticism for religions and political ideologies. It is very unlikely that any "thinker" or "guru" may overcome these space/time limitations and become someone able to advise anyone's lifestyle.