One thing that always bugged me was the idea that people should just pick one philosophy and stick to it. Don’t know what I mean? I don’t know if you’re familiar with Stoicism (made famous by Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus), but basically the whole idea is you should remain calm and unemotional in all situations. This is all well and good, until you’re at your niece’s fifth birthday party, sitting in the corner, stone-faced and unresponsive. (Cue all the Stoics reading this screeching [very un-Stoic-ally, might I add]). Now, my point in this isn’t to rip on the Stoics- besides, if they’re doing it right, they should be able to take a joke.
My point is that instead of looking for a one-size-fits-all worldview, we should look at all the different philosophies like tools- you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, you don’t bring Stoicism to a Bar Mitzvah. Well, I’ve never been to a Bar Mitzvah, so who knows, but they sound like fun to me.
Let’s use a metaphor.
In the early days of MMA (mixed martial arts, but if you didn’t know that, stop reading this and go watch some of the Royce Gracie fights), the competitions were between fighters of different styles, and the point was to figure out which school of combat was the most effective. At some point, though, everyone realized that the best method wasn’t just one school, it was a combination of several, most notably Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Wrestling (although there are a lot of others in there that have some utility, too).
Now, if that works for fighting, why wouldn’t it work for thinking?
If you read my fairly recent article, The Origin of Consciousness, you’ll know there are smaller bits of your mind that I called mesaconsciousnesses (or, more simply, micropersonalities). These are things like the circuits for hunger, anger, love, fear, and so on. Now, one thing I’ve noticed in the past is that different philosophies in the world tend to reflect the different personality types of the people that practiced them- go look up Epicureanism for the polar opposite of Stoicism, or look up Cynicism as it pertains to Diogenes (dude was an absolute madman).
Everyone has these different components to their personality, right?
Why not incorporate the different philosophies in the proportion that they pertain to us?
For example, I like a lot of Buddhism, especially the stuff about removing attachments. However, I’m kind of a masochist sometimes, and I like to do things like go 40 days without food, or live in a tent (both covered on the blog section of the site), or run long distances (coming soon). Buddhism seems to be largely about suffering being a bad thing, so I can’t say I agree there- I covered this in more detail in my recent article, AION AGON. So, rather than being a conflicted Buddhist, I take the parts I like and leave the parts I don’t.
Most people can get this, because it makes intuitive sense- that is, until we come to whatever philosophy or religion they believe is the “one true” version. That’s where you lose me.
Every philosophy is going to be a reflection of the people who made it popular. Most of the time, we end up identifying with a philosophy or belief system because we want to be like the founder- more scientific types like Jung, more spiritual types like the Buddha or other Eastern gurus, more traditional types like Jesus, more minimalist types like Aurelius, and so on.
What it really comes down to is this-
Are you confident enough in your philosophy to bet all your money on it?
Or, maybe a better metaphor:
Are you confident enough in your Tai Chi to go against Royce Gracie in an open fight?
Don’t get stuck in one philosophy, develop the All-In-One philosophy and learn to adapt to all situations.