A Clear Mind: The Starting Point
Many people treat their religion’s scriptures as their starting point in life. But why do people differ on their views toward a religion’s scriptures? Likewise, for nonbelievers, which book should one read, or which question should one ask first? For believers and nonbelievers alike, these sorts of questions come before a person adopts a viewpoint.
It is tempting to think that someone’s conscious philosophy is his/her starting point. A person says, “I think, therefore I am,” or “Jesus died for your sins,” and that may seem to be their starting point. Or a person emphasizes kindness, or truth, or some other virtue. These sorts of priorities certainly can influence much of what a person does. But they are only part of the starting point.
This series of posts, on the theme of “A Clear Mind,” started with a certain topic. That was the starting point, in the sense that it was the first to be discussed. But it did not have to be first. I could have started somewhere else. What I say, and what I decide to say first, are influenced by my whole collection of beliefs, emotions, reasoning abilities, past experiences, future possibilities, and other mental and physical resources. Everybody has a somewhat different starting point.
Nobody can fully articulate their starting point. There’s just too much material. At different times and in different situations, different resources come to mind, and their relative priorities change. People are forever having to explain that when they said such-and-such, they meant it within a certain context.
People start at a certain point; they have thoughts and experiences; and they move toward an ending point. They may still say the same things as before, but now they have some additional experiences or knowledge. It’s still the same person, but the same person is a bit different.
The topics that people prioritize — the things they choose to say first — are of course very different, from one person to the next. Generally, they tend to prioritize topics that relate to their interest in perpetuating life, as they experience it. So if someone wanted to question everyone’s starting point, it could make sense to start by questioning the decision to perpetuate life.
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