The Only Questions
The Only Questions You Will Ever Need —
— And The Questions You Should Always Ask
A Series on Reasoning
The Ten Commandments of Reason — Part I
by Jane Tawel
I need to begin this series with brief bullet points on what I might call, “The Ten Commandments of Reasoning”. In a nutshell… (don’t you love that simile? I wish I could hand you these ideas, tucked into little, hardy, lovely, glossy, hollowed out walnut shells. Alas…)…what I want to explore are what might be called “Big Idea” Questions.
These questions will be based on the following philosophical truths, or “Big Ideas”. These belong to the subcategory of Truths of Reasonable Humanness. If you disagree with the following statements, then it will probably make no sense to read later on about “The Only Questions You Will Ever Need, and The Questions You Should Always Ask”. So, here we go.
Ten Truths to accept as working premises before getting to the Questions, are:
1. Actions have consequences.
2. Some consequences are worse than others.
3. Once you reach “the age of reason”, you are mostly responsible for your actions and more often than not, responsible for any consequences.
4. When you are not responsible for an action, you are still almost always responsible for your reaction. It is good to remember that reactions have consequences also.
5. When you do not have the power over something that happens to you, you are still in charge of what to do with your feelings and your responses.
6. A basic tenant of a moral or good life means that you owe it to other people to consider how much what you do effects them. Whether your decision will possibly effect a loved one or a stranger, you should always try to carefully consider your actions before doing something; to consider your words before speaking; and to consider your choices before making them.
7. Your relationship to others is at least as serious and important to consider as your relationship to yourself. This, however, unlike #6, is on a gradient scale, dependent upon the particular relationship in conjunction with the particular action.
8. There is only one person you are in a life-long relationship with and that is yourself. Take care of this special human being; it is the only one you get. You are the only you that you will ever be.
9. If you don’t have time to think about something before doing or saying it, then maybe you aren’t using your time as effectively or wisely as you should.
10. Consider the journey as valuable as the destination. Consider the moment of questioning as joyfully and eagerly as you do the moment of answering.
The next part of this series will deal with questions that one should always ask one’s self. Furthermore, I hope to illustrate, that these are questions that we should apply to the “Big Things”, like marriage, all the way down (or up, depending on your viewpoint) to the “small Things”, like what to have for dessert.
Until Part II, in the meantime, perhaps one pleasant way to “chew on” metaphysics is with a quote from Fernando Pessoa, the Portuguese Poet: “Look, there’s no metaphysics on earth, like chocolate”.
If you know me, you will know that I am most partial to the dark and nutty or fruity variety, including the dark, nutty, fruity types of chocolate, humor, people, and metaphysics. Keep questioning and until Part II — have some chocolate.