Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Why moral courage is essential for personal development

"Men should avoid the distractions of pretence and delusion," wrote German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the year 1842. "Impossible expectations disconnected from reality always result in disappointment and sorrow."

Learning to see the truth

Learning to see the truth is seldom easy and never without cost, but a sharp vision of the world and a clear mind bring man unlimited rewards. Conformity is a bank from which you can borrow short-term convenience after you have secured repayment by means of a mortgage on your soul.

By willingly ignoring facts, we often place ourselves in a fog of ignorance, increasing our likelihood of making expensive mistakes and creating dangerous inconsistencies in our actions. Consider these five examples:

  • Unhealthy food: Despite being aware of long-term negative effects of some foods, we keep on consuming them in the illusion that, somehow, we alone will be immune to the consequences.
  • A decaying work environment: We close our eyes to signs of decline in the company we work for, often for years, in order to avoid the nuisance of searching alternative employment or the risk of starting our own business.
  • Wrong relationships: We ignore major character flaws and attribute non-existent virtues to someone we find sexually attractive in order to justify an unsustainable choice.
  • Unreliable friends: We avoid confronting breach of trust to avoid rocking the boat, preferring to hang around people who do not deserve our friendship instead of making the effort to seek further.
  • Unsound investments: We trust prodigious assurances of reckless money-managers and place our savings at great risk without giving it another thought.
Everybody makes mistakes and, when it comes to learning, there is no substitute for experience. However, if we wish to minimize errors, few habits are as effective as standing still from time to time, questioning aspects that look too good to be true, and checking the consistency of our logic.
Rationality is the way to happiness
A sharp vision of reality

"Only an unclouded vision of reality allows man to perceive truth," observed Schopenhauer. "Decisions based on facts render individuals self-supporting, which is the key to happiness." History shows that prejudice and conformity block progress more frequently than ignorance.

All too often, we forget to which extent the acquisition of knowledge is dependent on moral courage. Let us restate at every opportunity our right to discard facts that don't match. Only by allowing reason to thrive will we keep civilization alive.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


[Image by Perrimoon under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

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