A short reflection on Truth through action and Standing Thought
A Christmas gift
I was given a great gift today, this Christmas – that of a great conversation.
The speaker presented two ideas that are both popular and agreeable, but after inspection, make no sense:
- In life, I want to discover the truth, and;
- Everything, everything, must be doubted.
Of course I agree with these to a certain extent. How couldn’t I? But the repetition and circular nature by which they were asserted became more and more curious.
I want to discover the Truth. I don’t want to accept the knowledge given to me from [structures, traditions, old books].
º Are you seeking the
Truth,or the Truth that is not-[structure, traditions, old books]?
No. Some of it is okay. But everything must be doubted.
º Which parts? If everything must be doubted, what is Truth?
The parts that provide clarity are Truth, the rest must be doubted.
º What is the difference between clarity and non-clarity?
And continue the cycle.
Yet these are reasonable enough objectives, and fair enough questions. I won’t spend my time standing on the safe ground of the contrarian. Instead, I will consider the oft ignored and greatest of philosophical wisdoms – that of action.
What are you doing?
Words, when unmoored from the action by which they imply, portend, or require, are indistinguishable from grains of sand dripping down life’s glass.
What is your Religion?
I discuss this topic in part 3 of the “An Epic of Masculinity” series. It deserves continual restatement.
Your religion is what you do. What you physically act out in the world. This is your belief.
Because what you believe is soft, at best, in argumentative form. What is stated comfortably (without skin in the game?), absent a piece of yourself (body, soul, reputation, investment, whatever), is a belief much like a hat – easily removed by a gust of wind. Without action, how can one “assert” their beliefs? Without action, argumentative belief is far closer to public relations, than a covenant of the self.
Doubt, of course; Rebel against rules and break them from time to time. When, where, how, and why, are important questions, however.
Removing the hat, in this sense, is not freedom from the burden of rules, but surrender to some other set (science? biology? ideology?). There are rules and exceptions all around us; there are knowns and unknowns all around us; we are an individual in society always – these are permanent conditions of life, from birth to earth.
Truth seeking, in life, can therefore be hardly described as an intellectual action. The doer, learns (which is an idea I cannot claim, as it is from Nietzsche, although I can claim admiration of it).
It is why the graphic for my reflections is the artwork called “the Thinker.”
The Thinker, sits. The doer, stands.
To do well, we must sit and think, and insulate ourselves from the tricks, passions, over-complexity, and constant turmoil of the world. But this implies its action (“To! … we must) – we sit and think for the purpose of doing, living, acting, risking. To not is to treat life as a board game.
The exception here…
Of course there is an exception to Truth through action. The challenge to this philosophy typically comes in this form: “but if you act and never learn from those around you…”
It is a good challenge, given that so many act blindly and rashly, with unreflective confidence.
It is sad to me that the purely academic philosophical view presumes in “the doer” a tyrant as a pre-condition. There are far more doer’s in the world who brought prosperity, freedom, security, and a better life, than brought tyranny…
But like I said – this is the exception. And if ignored, will creep up on us all.
The question then becomes one of order and percentage. Luckily this order has been outsourced to the most effective, efficient, and successful organization on the planet: the US military; and percentage to a mathematical principle that has shown terrifyingly accurate utility on everything thing it touches: the Pareto principle.
Order: Observe, Do, Assess (or Plan, Act, Reflect)
Percentage: The Pareto principle is the 80/20 rule, so, let’s break it up: 10/80/10.
Do that everyday. You have about 16 waking hours per day. You can work for 10 of them, or more. Spend 1 hour planning, preparing, observing. 8 hours doing. And 10 hours to conclude, reflect, and assess.
Do that for a year. Whatever you are doing, you’ll have more Truth, more security, more prosperity, more power, and greater ability to improve yourself and others.