Today, blog reader Alex C. asks:
What single moral principle do you believe in above all other morals you follow and why?
My answer is “the pursuit of beauty,” with beauty used in a much broader sense than normal.
Human life is beautiful. It’s one of the most beautiful things I know. So the pursuit of beauty means giving to charity, trying to save lives.
Happiness is beautiful. So pursuing beauty means finding ways to make people happy: other people, and yourself too.
Art can be beautiful, so I strive to make better art and improve my skill.
Work can be beautiful, so I strive to do better work.
Love is beautiful. We should search for love everywhere, cherish it where we find it, and create it where none exists. We should care for those close to us, and reach out to those who aren’t.
Truth is beautiful. We should hone our minds to be careful about the truth, to discover and follow what is real, to constantly challenge our own beliefs.
Many things are beautiful: the Pythagorean Theorem, sunrises, friendship, electricity, the planet Saturn; but also cold feet in the morning, the smell of dirt, the sound of a car engine. Even pain and death have their own austere kind of beauty. That doesn’t mean we should try to cause pain and death, but that we should look for what beauty in them we can find.
Of course, beauty is subjective, which is always the problem. Some things that I find beautiful (gay marriage, for example) are ugly to others, and vice versa. Things we find beautiful today may seem ugly in the future, and vice versa. So how do we know the things we’re pursuing are “truly” beautiful?
We don’t. We do the best we can, and we strive for the truth.
That’s my answer, anyway. What about you?