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Most of us have good fortune(?) of not being tempted to live without limits. We simply can’t afford it. Still, there are many steps along way to excess, and we are constantly presented with choices. What is reasonable? Is it not having a television? Perhaps having one, but not two? One big one and one small one? Or maybe having a TV, but no cable? How about just basic cable? Why should you deny yourself when it seems that everyone else around you is watching “The Sopranos” on HBO? Aristotle never had a television, so how are we supposed to use his philosophy to guide us in real world?
Ethical living enables us to become stronger individuals and to produce stronger families and stronger communities. Morality helps us create best life possible by being selective about what we honor. Morality facilitates GENUINE HAPPINESS and fulfillment. Aristotle agreed with his teacher Plato and Plato’s teacher Socrates when he said that genuine happiness results from living an excellent—and virtuous—life.
“Be less concerned with what you have than with what you are, so that you may make yourselves as excellent and as rational as possible.” --Socrates
We need to develop our own philosophy, our own understanding of morality that will help us become our most excellent selves. In example of consumption, we must consider how each step up TV scale affects our perception of living a good life.
What do we use as our moral compass? Perhaps it’s our passion for planet and not wanting to use more than we need. Maybe it’s our desire to live without too much commercial influence. Maybe it’s our budget, or size of our living room, or fact that we are never home to watch television. Ultimately, it comes down to this: how does what we have affect our perception of who we are?
You might think that philosophy won’t be much help in defining this for yourself. Well, here’s a philosophical concept that you might want to consider. Immanuel Kant proposed what is called categorical imperative, which basically says that we should act way we would want everyone in universe to act if they were faced with same set of circumstances.
According to his deontological theory, good happens because we are acting on basis of our sense of duty. He took things a little too far, however, by saying that if we derive pleasure or benefit from an action, it doesn’t count as a purely moral act.
Well, that takes fun out of being a do-gooder, now, doesn’t it? It hardly seems fair to say that you may choose to go without TV because you don’t want to consume more than you need, but if it makes you feel sort of proud of yourself it’s no longer moral!
Still, this idea is worth considering. The next time you are faced with any sort of ethical dilemma, think about Kant. Forget “What would Jesus do?” and try this: “What should everyone do?” And all you wanted was to sneak that last piece of chocolate cake….
You can do this. We're all capable of rising to challenge and becoming more excellent humans. It's why we have these big, beautiful brains!
Recognize what is good, embrace it and celebrate it.
A spontaneous woo to you!
Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse. Her course, "Massage Your Mind!: Defining Your Life Philosophy", has inspired thinkers in over 60 countries around the world. Sign up for her free weekly e-zine, the Friday Mind Massage, at http://www.massageyourmind.com. Thanks for thinking!