Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher argued that the most fundamental moral duty is the preservation and growth of consciousness, both in ourselves and in others. He called this principle of always putting consciousness first "the Formula of Humanity". This formula explains our basic moral intuitions. It explains the concept of virtue. It explains how to act in our day to day lives without relying on some imagined vision of hope.
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The problem with hope is that it is fundamentally transactional - it is a bargain between one's current actions for some imagined, pleasant future. Don't eat this, and you'll go to heaven. Don't kill that person, or you'll get in trouble. Work hard and save your money, because that will make you happy.
To transcend the transactional real of hope, one much act unconditionally
Kant's Formula of Humanity states that treating any human being as a means to some other end is the basis of all wrong behaviour. You must act unconditionally. For example, you must respect someone without expecting anything in return. If you expect something in return then you are treating someone as a means.
Lying is wrong because you are misleading another person's conscious behaviour in order to achiever your own goal. You are treating that person as a means to your own end.
Act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.
You must love someone without expecting anything in return; otherwise it’s not truly love. You must respect someone without expecting anything in return; otherwise you don’t truly respect him. You must speak honestly without expecting a pat on the back or a high-five or a gold star next to your name; otherwise you aren’t truly being honest.
We need three things:
Lose any of the three, and you lose the other two. Lose any of the three, and you lose hope.
The power of choice is one of the greatest gifts we human beings possess. We are always choosing regardless of whether we are aware of it. Till we die.
When we forgo one alternative, we are indirectly choosing something else.
When we choose our struggles, we feel strong and empowered. When those circumstances influence us against our will, we often feel miserable and unhappy.
The genuine question is, what are we choosing to care about? What values are we choosing to base our lives on? What metrics are we using to measure our lives? And are those excellent choices - values or metrics?
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