The elements of a single thought are the foundation upon which every wonder of Man has been built, and need to be understood explicitly if we are to comprehend and own any firm moral convictions. The most important phase in our ethical maturation is gaining explicit understanding of the structure by which Man accumulates and validates his knowledge. Most understand and accept that a healthy diet, exercise and posture for the body are ideal, yet do not grasp that a healthy posture also exists for a consciousness: the structure for an unlimited database, which only the discipline of reason can build and reference.

Being carbon-based, water and oxygen sustained entities, men require all the same nutrients to survive. The needs of water and oxygen are axiomatic,or in other words, are self-evident, foundational truths. Axiomatic needs are fundamentally irrefutable and reach substantially deeper than most imagine. They transcend these obvious physical associations to reveal links directly into conceptual processes. Every man’s mind classifies information alike, building concepts in a standard pattern, and we either learn to hamper this natural design, or learn to act in accordance with it. The process is called conceptualization,and we run it at some level, all day long.

The proper means of cognition is in itself, an achievement. It is achieved, not granted—earned, not automatic—respected, not forced. And it can be learned any time one assumes the responsibility to do so. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed, and the proper utilization of the mind must be accepted by all those who intend to think, to live and to enjoy living—the aim of the Self-made. Accountable conceptualization isthe abstract axiomatic necessity of life sustenance for Man. It isn’t a separate issue to our need of air and water, but an extension of the same requirement, moving from direct sensate observation to conceptual observation—driven by the capacity of volition. Its first step, perception,is the open integration of clear, coherent sensory data. Perception must be used in any observation of existential matter, and in any communication with others. The second step, identification, is the mental effort extended to distinguish the objects of one’s perceptions, their attributes and actions, for classification of all existential data along a rational hierarchy. To give them names—to name their attributes, to measure their motions and characteristics—is a hierarchy called an epistemological chainof knowledge. Its links reveal the origin, components and ultimate purpose of any concept. Proper integration builds one’s knowledge of the world into a non-contradictory whole, from which sound choices can be made. Reason is the process of making those sound choices, reflecting off this base to establish plans for the third step, productive action.The process of reason, or rationality,accumulates and unites every pertinent detail to arrive at a well-informed conclusion determining one’s course of action. The fourth and final step is the product of all that has come before; the result.For Self-made Men, most often the result is a reward, a beneficial outcome achieved by intention, such as a positive emotional state, a thought provoking observation, a paycheck, or the United States of America.

Reward is often mistaken to be only a resultant factor, not a part of the process. Reward is not an element separate from cognition—not an isolated result that can be expropriated or divided in any way from that which it was borne—but contains vital, essential information to the soundness of one’s cognitive process, and determines the steadfastness of course or of its correction. Another word for “result” in the cognitive process is validation.The moral import of this process is that it istheelife-serving means of existential control for Man, and every step is optional, though the consequences of their evasion are not. Nature cannot force you to compose thought; it can only force you to decompose. A man must accept life as his standard of value—as his basic referent—by choice, and conceptualization is the fundamental life-pattern—the definitive attribute of a human being. Self-made Man displays the cognitive willingness to exercise every aspect of the process until it is automatized, because he wants to live at the highest, most humanlevel possible, to earn and enjoy the greatest pride.