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The Fool's Ethics: Safety 3rd!

A Selfish Guide to Morality

Embarking on a journey to understand how to live a good life, it's crucial to first distinguish between morality and ethics. Morality represents the principles of right and wrong that govern our behavior, while ethics delves into the study of these principles and their applications. Envision morality as the concept of pi (π) and ethics as the ongoing discussion about which approximation of pi to use in various situations. With this distinction, we invite you to explore the Fool's Ethics and the concept of "Safety 3rd!", a refreshingly simple approach that harmoniously balances science, religion, and philosophy.

In the Fool's Ethics, life is seen as a grand expedition. Science is seen as a map of possibilities, religion is seen as a tool to calibrate our innate moral compass, and philosophy as the art of navigating through life's complexities. No one would try to navigate using only a map or only a compass; in a similar way, the art of navigation is analogous to the art of philosophy, which seeks the wisdom to know how to use each effectively in a given situation. Each force plays a vital role in guiding us through life's challenges and complexities, making our journey more fulfilling and purpose-driven.

To achieve this balance, the Fool's Ethics proposes three main principles:

Get stuff done and do GOOD work (Golden Rule): Treat others as you’d want to be treated if the roles were reversed and on the largest applicable scale of society...And if you cannot provide joy to others, at least don’t cause any suffering, or allow preventable suffering to continue.

Get enough credit to enable MORE good work in the future (Capitalism): Recognize the importance of gaining recognition and resources to continue doing good work, as long as it doesn't conflict with the first priority.

Survive long enough to DO the good work (Safety): Ensure personal safety and well-being, but only as long as it doesn't interfere with the first two priorities.

The Fool's Ethics serves as a tool for guiding our behavior, rather than judging others. By reminding ourselves of these principles, we gain perspective on life's challenges and can make well-informed decisions.

By prioritizing these principles and considering our actions' impact on ourselves and others, we can successfully navigate life's ethical dilemmas and create a better world for everyone – including ourselves.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

The Fool's Ethics also warns against some common pitfalls when approaching life's ethical challenges:

The Greedy: Those who prioritize personal gain risk losing sight of the greater good. The Cowardly: Those who place safety and comfort first may miss out on opportunities to make meaningful contributions. The Martyr: Focusing solely on doing good without considering survival or resources may lead to unsustainable efforts and hinder long-term impact. By understanding these pitfalls, we can more effectively navigate life's complexities.

The Fool's Ethics encourages a unique perspective on selfishness, one that transcends both egoism and altruism. True selfishness means looking out for one's best interests while also considering the well-being of others. This approach recognizes that our actions have consequences for the world around us, and by making the world a better place, we ultimately serve our own best interests.

Consider, for example, my experience as a recovering drug addict who realized that my self-destructive behavior was the exact opposite of being selfish. True selfishness would have involved taking care of my physical and emotional well-being instead of succumbing to the whims of my ego. In this light, true selfishness is not about self-indulgence but rather about self-preservation and personal growth.

Obviously anyone who's smart wants to live in the best world possible, so by striving to create the best possible world for ourselves and others, we embody true selfishness. In the process, we also contribute to the good of the world around us, transcending the limitations of both egoism and altruism.

Calibrating the Moral Compass with Religion and Mythology

A key aspect of the Fool's Ethics is the emphasis on religion or spirituality as a means to calibrate our innate moral compass. The framework does not suggest that religion provides or is the compass, but rather that it helps refine and align our sense of right and wrong with broader moral principles and values. By engaging with religious teachings and practices, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their spirituality and develop a stronger sense of empathy and compassion.

Books such as "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" and "Living Buddha, Living Christ" from The Fool's Reading List help individuals explore their spirituality and engage with religious teachings or practices that resonate with them. This exploration can lead to personal growth and a deeper understanding of oneself and one's place in the world.

Creating a Comprehensive Map of Possibilities with Science

To create a comprehensive map of possibilities, the Fool's Ethics encourages individuals to explore and learn from the world of science. Scientific knowledge helps us understand the natural world and our place within it, providing us with valuable insights into the consequences of our actions and the potential outcomes of different choices.

Books like "Guns, Germs,and Steel" and "Sapiens" from The Fool's Reading List provide a broad understanding of human history, while "Chaos: Making of a New Science" and "The Big Picture" delve into the complexities of the universe. By learning from these books and others, individuals can develop a more comprehensive understanding of the world, empowering them to make informed decisions in various aspects of life.

Navigating Life's Complexities with Philosophy

The Fool's Ethics recognizes that philosophy plays a crucial role in navigating life's complexities, helping individuals make sense of the scientific map of possibilities and the moral compass calibrated by religion and mythology. Philosophy seeks the wisdom to use each of these tools effectively in various situations, guiding individuals towards a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.

Books such as "Nicomachean Ethics" and "The Dhammapada" from The Fool's Reading List contribute to our understanding of philosophy, offering guidance on how to navigate life's complexities. Other books, like "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius and "The Perennial Philosophy," provide additional insights into personal growth, ethical decision-making, and the human experience.


The Fool's Ethics: Safety 3rd! - A Selfish Guide to Morality offers a unique and insightful approach to ethical decision-making. By embracing this framework, individuals can strike a harmonious balance between science, religion, and philosophy, leading to a fulfilling and purpose-driven life. By learning from a wide range of sources, such as The Fool's Reading List, individuals can create a comprehensive map of possibilities, calibrate their moral compass with religion and mythology, and navigate life's complexities with philosophy.

In doing so, the Fool's Ethics encourages individuals to prioritize getting stuff done and doing good work, getting enough credit to enable more good work in the future, and surviving long enough to do the good work. This ethical framework ultimately leads to a more compassionate and altruistic approach to life, promoting kindness, fairness, and understanding. By embracing the principles of the Fool's Ethics, we can create a better world for everyone – including ourselves.

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Anca Middelkoop
Anca Middelkoop
Mar 30, 2023

Thank you for this sincere and open guidance through this web of concepts.


Mar 28, 2023

Love this post man.. 🔥

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