Saintly Thoughts

I Wish...I Dread...

I wish, above all else, to lead a life well lived.  But I have no idea what this means...well, I have some intuitions, but these hardly amount to much more than entrenched prejudice.  Given my state of ignorance, it would seem necessary to live life as one trying to answer the question of what a life well lived might be.  But in attempting to answer this question, I find that I live my life as one reflecting upon my life--and as we know from reading our Hegel, one cannot both experience and perceive oneself experiencing at one and the same time.  Thus, if one attempts nothing other than reflection on the nature of a life well lived, one finds (necessarily) that one is decidedly NOT living a meaningful life.  But if one lives without refection, one has no way of even beginning to answer this question.  So, reflection (in and of itself) cannot encompass the sum totality of the good life, and unfortunately, it seems unlikely that we (or at least I) shall ever come to some point when I can look upon myself and say, "that is a life well lived."  So I am always faced with the existential enormity of the responsibility of acting well while knowing that I have not the means of judging whether or not I act well.  This is truly a terrifying concept, and let me show you why.  I expect that most of us slip through existence more or less assuming the goodness of our un-examined prejudices (which, in our age, can confusingly include the meaningless examination of what we are told are un-examined prejudices), but this is hardly justifiable.  Think upon history and reflect on the most deplorable act (from the perspective of your own prejudice) that you can fathom.  Now, allow yourself to imagine that this action is NOT deplorable, and in fact represents the epitome of human goodness.  Likely you shall have trouble in doing this, and this is surely to your credit.  Now, working back from the perspective of prejudicial acceptance, try and disprove the efficacy of the (so-called) deplorable  action using means other than the judgment of your own prejudice (i.e., one cannot disprove the presumed goodness of an act of genocide by appealing to the inherent dignity of all human persons, for such a position is itself [at least as so formulated] no more than prejudice).  It will be very difficult to do.  This should terrify you, for it shows that we have much more work to do in working out the foundations of our moral reasonings than we likely have time on earth in which to work out such reasonings.  This thought fills me with dread.  For ours is an age which disavows the importance of innate prejudice and discernment, instead encouraging the kind of rash thought experiment I suggested (though not in such brash terms).  What if all goodness is mere prejudice?  And what if, in stripping away our own layers of innate prejudice, we are left with nothing?  My dread arises anew at this thought.