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A reflection on “intentional living”


Consider Socrates’  choice to join the army and constrain himself to the dicispline and regulations of the army in defense of Athens. he made a choice to submit to those constraints because he made a principled value judgment that it was worth giving up some of his freedom and comfort in support of a higher value for him: defense of Athenian democracy.

I dont equate  a “philosophical life” with  a life of complete autonomy and unlimited choice.  The philosophica;l life is worthwhile precisely because it helps us make the tough tradeoffs in a way that are consistent with our values. Your decision to wear the uniform and accept the constraints allows you to support other values you place higher than the freedom to wear PJs.

You probably have decided that a choice to wear PJs might prohibit you from earning a living to supoprt your self and family and achieve other goals you value more than maximum comfort.

To me the philosophical life comes from a desire to live intentionally, to make choice son the basis of your own values, and not simply as an animal life form reacting instinctively and thoughtlessly to random environmental pressures. To live intentionally is to ask of your self, “which intentions?” and “what values?” and “what tradeoffs?” It is then fair to examine our decisions for consistency and integrity.

Principles mantter precisely because of the consequences they lead to.  To select principles without consideration of the consequences begs the questions about the values that would allow such a decision.

Living a “full time philosophical life” in this schema, becomes an extraordnary effort: to live intentionally in all things?! and with consistency to set of carefully chosen and prioritized principles?! thats the work of a lifetime for sure, a worthy goal. Its an ideal that led the Stoics and the Buddhists to ask of themselves, each in their own way, what’s the difference between want and need? They came to different conclusions, as did the Epicureans etc  but they all shared the goal of living the examined, consistent, intentional life.

Thanks for your patience to let me think out loud

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