Ofek's Life Section
When I was in middle school (around the age of 11), I started thinking long and hard about philosophical questions, such as the meaning of life, the ethics of eating meat, donating, etc. My thinking was that I don’t want to just live my life not giving these topics much thought, and then one day when I’m forty wake up and realize that actually eating meat is highly unethical and I just spent 40 years of my life doing something akin to murder. And as we all know, the best time is now. So I spent tons of time, mostly lying in bed at night, thinking about these existential questions.
Slowly, I started developing a fully fledged life philosophy. This was quite a challenge, and took me around two years (up until my 13th birthday), to come up with a philosophy that I was satisfied with. It needed to fulfill several key qualities:
Internally consistent: My dad, like most people, love meat. He would be happy to eat a whole chicken. I asked him if he would be willing to kill a chicken himself and then eat it. He wouldn’t, and wanted to change the topic. I didn’t want to have to change the topic when someone asks me any question; I wanted my philosophy to be robust and fully flushed out, and that entailed having confidence that it is internally consistent.
Something I can actually practice: My goal of my life philosophy was not to become a saint. It was to create a philosophy consistent with not only how I will want to live my life, but with how I will actually live my life. I wanted to be able to live every day of my life ‘practicing what I preach’. If my life philosophy told me that it is more valuable to donate $20k to humanitarian aid in Uganda instead of spending it on my first car, I knew I would never be able to live by that philosophy, it was setting me up to fail, so it was simply not for me.
My life philosophy was designed by me, for me
I do not claim that my life philosophy works for everyone, applies to everyone, etc. It was designed for one single purpose—to allow me to maximize my life. There is no objective morality (more on this in a future post). My philosophy is based on my own feelings and my own moral compass. It is based off the reality of my life, background, and society. It was designed by me, for me.
That said, while the basis of my philosophy is, well, me, a majority of it is built up from logic that I believe may more broadly apply. I believe that my lines of reasoning may help you refine or even construct your own philosophy.
I would also like to confess that I have never read a serious philosophy book that talks about most of these topics, it is possible there are vast fields of research and thought to challenge some aspects of my philosophy. I warmly welcome any such challenges, and would be happy to discuss them. A bit more information is available in the next section.
I am now 23, twice the age I was when I constructed this philosophy, and it stood the test of time. It is far more robust, self consistent, practical, than a majority of other philosophies I have encountered (admittedly many people have not given any of these topics much thought). Throughout high school I regularly spoke to dozens of people in my Jewish youth club, hours on end, about various aspects of this philosophy. And while my philosophy today has definitely been refined over time, its core tenants and conclusions are unchanged. I am open to change, and prefer it to happen earlier rather than later, so feel free to challenge any aspects of it.
I should mention that a key source of inspiration for some of the more important aspects of my philosophy was older people, not just adults but people the ages of 70+. These people had hindsight, and I spoke with many such people at length about these topics, allowing some of this hindsight to shape my foresight, giving me perspective that may be uncommon for others in middle school.
During the last few months at my aforementioned high school Jewish youth club (the youth club had ~80 members, changing annually), I decided to give short, ~10 minute talks at business meetings, once every two weeks, passing along some insights to them. I called this biweekly speech, Ofek’s Life Section. I’ll include each of these topics, both unedited and an expanded upon version on this blog. The first post is how we are all egoists :P
Note: The name Ofek’s Life Section is a reference to Ofek’s Music Section, a section I wrote for their newspaper, where I analyzed and translated if needed various songs that were either very deep or very poetic. I have yet to publish these analyses publicly, but you can find similar analyses at on my other website, https://songs.theofekfoundation.org.