Finalist, 2005 Kids Philosophy Slam
Devin Toohey, age 18
Nutley, New Jersey

"Truth or beauty? What is more important in your life, truth or beauty?"

My greatest aspiration in life is to enter a profession fraught with lies. I dream of a future where that which is pleasing to the mind and imagination prevails. That goal is none other than to become an author, an artist whose paint is falsities and marble is the realm of fantasy. The truth may enter occasionally, but merely at the consent of such beauty.

This love of both reading and weaving fiction has affected my entire outlook on life. For me, beauty is placed on a higher pedestal than truth; for beauty is what makes life worth living. The truth could be that there is no such thing as eternal, all-intoxicating love, that all relationships after a certain amount of time, be it days or decades, shall lose their luster. The truth is we can not be sure if that is reality, or if such an ideal does exist. What we do know though is that the ideal, whether actual or fake, does carry beauty to it. It is this beauty we have in our hearts when we imagine love. That is what makes us go on and continue to search for it. If we were to hold truth over beauty, would such a search be worth conducting, since we would be uncertain if the prize even existed?

But, what is this beauty that leads my life? As weeks passed in philosophy, our class tried in vain to pinpoint an exact definition to it. For a few seconds, we would think that we had it pinned down, but then a hole would appear in the explanation, a hole in the meaning of beauty was able to escape through. Finally, as Kant came, a satisfactory explanation presented itself.

Beauty does not have a strict definition. It is not tied up by having to fit a truth, proclaiming that order is beautiful while chaos is not, or vice versa. As Kant says, the reaction one has to something, whether a work of art, a landscape, or a story, is how one can identify beauty. We use our innate a priori knowledge of beauty mixed with our experiences and aged with intellectual reflection to find beauty in our lives. This is how beauty can be found in so many seemingly contrasting ways, yet at the same time not be prey to relativism and the random whims of people.

This sensation is something I plan to continue to seek my entire life, not letting myself be hindered by truth. Paradise may not exist, but I still do not see a reason why we should not try to obtain its splendor through words, art, and music, despite them being all flights of fancy. Truth confines you to a set of rules, barricading you into the realm of what is real. To live for truth is to live in a prison. But to live for beauty, an emotion bereft of the bad and wrong, is to experience freedom beyond imagine. Beyond truth.wrong, is to experience freedom beyond imagine. Beyond truth.

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