A Bit of History
When I was nine years old, I experienced a crisis of faith and stopped believing in god. I have been actively seeking wisdom ever since.
In my teenage years I was a devoted fan of the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, which taught me the dangers of submerging yourself in someone else’s philosophy instead of developing your own.
During my university studies in New York City, I double-majored in philosophy and ancient Greek, with a focus on Aristotle. Although I was on the fast track to a Ph.D., I realized that academic philosophy was not for me when my advisor, a famous scholar, told me that it doesn’t matter what’s true, it matters what you can get published. This is precisely wrong.
For the last thirty years I have pursued a successful career in business as a technologist and executive, learning about the real world and applying philosophical insights along the way. In my spare time I devote myself to philosophical research, writing, and coaching.
What I Believe
Here are some things I believe. I use that word deliberately; although I cannot prove them, I think they are true and live my life as if they are…
- Philosophy is not an end in itself; only your life is an end in itself.
- The question of the meaning of life is meaningless in the abstract and from the outside; meaning can be experienced only individually and from the inside.
- Philosophy is a verb, not a noun; a way of life, not a set of answers.
- A great question is more valuable than the best answer.
- The most important things in life can be approached only from the side; for instance, happiness is best achieved by focusing on fulfillment.
- Happiness comes not from a singleminded focus on one area of life, but from a balanced portfolio of health, work, love, character, wisdom, and beauty.
- As with investing, so with life: the most effective strategy is to avoid the worst of the losing trades.
- Love and friendship are not primarily emotions, but activities.
- Ethics is what you do, not what you profess.
- Success in your work is important, but it’s much more important to be a successful human being.
- Perfection is not an option.
- You don’t have to achieve an ideal to benefit from idealism.
- There is never just one cause for any phenomenon or experience.
- Distrust all gurus; instead, be your own guru; even then, distrust yourself.
- The easiest thing in the world is self-deception; the hardest is self-knowledge.
- The oldest, most universal phenomena of human life — love, work, creation, wisdom — are vastly more important than the newest. And “the news” is an artificial phenomenon manufactured to tear you away from what is eternally significant.
- The unexamined organization is not worth building.
- Politics is a disease: an unhealthy distraction from everything that truly matters in life.
- Data begets information, information begets knowledge, knowledge begets wisdom; each of these processes is slower and harder and more meaningful than the previous one.
- The deepest wisdom was discovered over two thousand years ago by the likes of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pyrrho, Epicurus, Epictetus, Gautama Siddhartha, Lao Tzu, and Jesus.
These are things I believe; what do you believe?
My strongest intellectual influence is Aristotle, whose insights into human life and philosophical method are deep and vast. My forthcoming book Complete Yourself will provide a concentrated summary of his views on human fulfillment.
My earliest intellectual influence was Ayn Rand, whose emphasis on reason, individuality, and freedom inspired my lifelong quest for wisdom. My book The Tao of Roark is an unusually humanistic take on Rand’s philosophy.
I have also found great value in Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu (the one-two punch of philosophical Taoism), Pyrrho (the founder of ancient skepticism), the Stoic philosophers Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, Gautama Siddhartha (the Buddha), and Jesus as portrayed in the gnostic gospels. Among recent thinkers, I am especially impressed by French philosopher Pierre Hadot’s work on resurrecting the ancient conception of philosophy as a way of life.