Moral philosophy is very important to the success of an individual. Rational knowledge has two components. These components are material and formal. Formal knowledge is not object oriented, and is based on reason. Formal knowledge is logic, or the laws of thought. Material knowledge is object oriented, and has two components. These two components are natural and moral. Natural law is physics. It determines what is the case, and how things behave in nature. On the other hand, moral law determines what things ought to be. Morality is something humans think about, and is not based on physiological factors.
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Now that we have a little background of knowledge and moral law, let me tell you why you should lead a moral life. Even though morality is not imposed upon you, it is about humanity. And, while it may not seem fair, in reality, morality is judged by humans. So, if you are immoral, other people will be the ones that notice that you are immoral, and that can hurt personal relationships. One way that I have succeeded throughout my career is by knowing and being friends with a lot of people.
The practical side of life is based on interpersonal relationships. Whether it be social or business, communicating with people is the only way to get things done. There is no way that you can go through life in today’s society without getting along with people. If people think that you are immoral, than they will not respect you, or be willing to work with you. Again, it may seem like it is not fair because you know that no one is one hundred percent moral, and if someone doesn’t respect you because you are immoral, than they are hypocritical. But, when it comes to moral issues, the reality of the world is that people are hypocritical. They feel it is okay for them to do it, but not okay for anyone else.
Think about it, how many times have you said, “I can’t believe that he did that; he’s a jerk.” Knowing the entire time that you have done the same thing. You may say, “Who cares!” I’m here to tell you that one day you might care. Let me give you and example. After I completed a business venture that made me over one million dollars, I learned that the only reason I received the job was because the man I was competing against had cheated on his wife. Well, the company offering the job decided that they couldn’t trust this man because of his immoral activity. So, to answer your question, I care. And for that matter, I bet if you were involved in this situation, you would care.
Now I want to tell you an obvious reason why you should care. This may be so obvious that you overlooked it. Many of our nations laws are based on moral issues. For instance, you can’t hurt another human; you can’t steal from another human; and you can’t kill another human being. Now, you may say, “I already know this!” But, if everybody knew this, would we need jails? Let me ask you a question. How successful can you be in jail? My point with this question is to get you to realize that you can’t be successful in jail.
Nobody grows up saying that they can’t wait to go to jail because they know that it is the place to be. Nobody says that if they could just get in jail they know that they could be the best prisoner, and could have the biggest cell. This may be taking immorality to an extreme, but it happens. An immoral life could send a person to jail. I can tell you some of the consequences of an immoral life, but I can’t make you be moral. Morality is not imposed upon you by society. Morality is self imposed; it is something in us, and defines what constitutes a human being.
I am sure that many of you have participated in team sports. Now even if you have a good game, maybe you scored all of the points, and the team won. But, at the end of the game you cheated. Well, everyone that knows you cheated now labels you a cheater. So, in the future, when it is time to play the next game no one wants you on their team. They think that you will give the team a bad name because you cheated before. Again, you might say, “Who cares?” All I can tell you is that if you can’t play because no one wants you on their team, then you sure can’t win or be successful. So since morality, whether it is fair or not is judged by those around you, you will be better off in the end if you lead a moral life.
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Kant says, “The moral worth depends, therefore, not on the realization of the object of the action, but merely on the principle of volition according to which, without regard to any objects of the faculty of desire, the action has been done”(Kant, p.13). What this great philosopher was saying, is that you can’t always go for the instant reward when you are going to do something. Sometimes you have to bypass the selfish inclination and not cheat or do things that are immoral. Yes, you may not win this game, but at least you can play tomorrow and maybe win then.
Moral law is universal. It is not created by anyone, it just exists. Also, moral law is a priori, or in other words, it exists before empirical law. Moral philosophy is very valuable to everyone’s life. Morals are proper for everyone, and since they are based on metaphysics, and metaphysics transcends differences, they are also cross cultural. Moral law has helped me be successful in everything that I do.
Being a 65 year old man, I have seen a lot. I know the value of moral philosophy. Moral philosophy has helped me be successful in every thing that I have done. You may ask, “How has it helped you be successful?” Well, I have told you a couple of aspects of moral philosophy, and all of these aspects have helped me keep things in perspective. Financial success will come with morality, but if it doesn’t, then you will still be better off because you have led a moral life.
There have been times in my life when I have succumb to selfish inclination, and the results were immediately good. But ultimately, if I had been labeled as an immoral person, and was not able to do certain things because people didn’t like me, than I definitely wouldn’t have been the one invited to give this talk to you. By the way, I am getting paid an awful lot of money for this talk. So there is another way that morality has helped me. Happiness is not a grounding for morality, because some immoral people are happy. But, morality can lead to ultimate happiness and greater success in whatever you attempt to do in life.
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