Making the Best Choice

Our choices in life are invariably limited by the force of circumstances. But suppose there were no constraints, and that society was such that we were entirely free and independent. It is then that we would have to face up consciously to the question which we alone are in a position to decide: What should be the guiding principle of my life?

To some, the answer is obvious. The ideal course would be based on free indulgence in sensuality, where liberty is synonymous with licence. They reject any other aim as the vain pursuit of some vague or transcendent end, whereas they maintain (or they think that they would maintain) that the pleasure they believe in is real and immediate.

But this is clearly a point of view which cannot stand up to scrutiny, still less to being put into practice. It is in fact a guaranteed formula for disaster in life. There are at least two good reasons for this. The first is that the pleasures which are maintained to be the object of life are in themselves transient and ephemeral. In the very act of trying to follow this plan of life we find that the objects which seemed to promise happiness have turned to ashes in our mouth. The joy that they offered is much more unreal in the long run than the higher ideals which we scornfully reject.

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This article is from the Spring 2023 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.