TAKING STOCK – ONE YEAR OF PHILOSOPHICALGUIDANCE.COM

“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to  its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust” – Henry David Thoreau.

 

Last week was the one year anniversary of the first post on this site. I thought it would be a good time to take stock of our progress. The attentive reader knows that for the most part the 156 blogs have not been meandering essays, but rather the first half of a philosophy book whose mission is to methodically examine the relevant elements of the field of philosophy for assembling a meaningful life. Perhaps a review of the path I have been on will help readers determine which parts they missed or wish to review.

After a few introductory posts on defining philosophy and the site’s mission, I jumped into the Big Picture – the reduction of practical philosophy into its two major divisions:

[1] the nature of reality (9 posts covering 11/9/18-12/3/18), and

[2] personal conduct (ethics; 13 posts from 12/5/18-1/4/19).

In that analysis we found that reality and ethics are manifest at five levels or tiers, each of which requires reflection in fashioning a flourishing life.

While those two main areas remain the chief focus of a personal philosophy, we next took on the first five of seven special subjects within those areas:

[1] Good and evil (10 posts from 1/6/19 -2/6/19),

[2] The question of God (19 posts from 2/8/19- 3/27/19),

[3] Body and soul (15 posts from 4/3/19 – 5/6/19),

[4] Death and immortality (24 posts from 5/13/9- 7/5/19), and

[5] Free will, fate, and human destiny (42 posts from 7/17/19 – 10/23/19).

Along the way, I stopped to blog on some of my current reading:

[1] Fake News (12/12 and 12/14/19),

[2] The Philosopher’s Magazine (1/11/19),

[3] Before the Big Bang (2/27 and 3/1/19),

[4] We Are Not Alone (3/29 and 4/1/19),

[5] Is Life Worth Living? (5/8 and 5/10/19),

[6] God and Physics (7/8 and 7/10/19)

[7] Revolutionary Deism (7/12 and 7/14/19)

The site has had 662 visits by 499 different users from 46 different countries on six continents since its inception. The majority (57.2%) of users came directly to the site while 34.8 % came from a search engine (86.7% Google; 9.2% Bing; and 4% Yahoo) and 8% from a social media referral (80% Facebook). The most visited page was The Summum Bonum (post on 1/23/19 and Appendix Table 2 and Diagram 1). The most visited current reading was We Are Not Alone.

The book is currently about halfway complete (although the posts are probably more accurately viewed as a second draft rather than final). The next two sections are Teleology and Suffering (Grief, Pain, and Illness).

After that I will get to the heart of our subject – the four components of the meaningful or flourishing life. If space allows, I will investigate how various traditions encapsulate these four components and try to synthesize the ideal approach, at least for myself – a virtual, public, individual search for enlightenment.

I hope this quick review is compelling enough to send you back to past sections and to draw you forward as I present targeted philosophical guidance that, to my knowledge, is absent from the treasury of  existing literature.

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WHY DO PHILOSOPHY ?

“Life is the gift of the immortal God; living well is the gift of philosophy.” – Seneca.

The next logical question is why worry about philosophy? After all most people never study the field and live out their lives in relative satisfaction. I have two responses to this. First it is unlikely any but the most simple-minded can really live a normal life span without questioning the nature of the world and the meaning of their life. More likely, they choose a casual or superficial approach to such questions. The danger here is confusion and missteps, mainly in the form of erroneous thinking. That approach forces one to develop effective reasoning through trial and error and to repeat the long process of developing philosophy from scratch including reformulating arguments that have been thoroughly vetted throughout history. That legacy belongs to all of us and should not be cast aside or ignored.

Second one of the most certain things in life is that we all want to be happy and make a good life for ourselves, but that is unlikely to happen without some reflection. Any reflection will or should lead one to questions on the nature of the world, of happiness, of the purpose of life, and probably about the existence of God. A life without reflection is likely to lead to avoidable regrets, discontentment, and perhaps feelings of failure.

Philosophy, especially practical philosophy, can provide a pathway to optimizing life’s opportunities and potential while reducing the likelihood of flawed choices. Its demand for discipline in thinking improves the ability to think clearly about other matters such as work, relationships, and current events. It also adds another layer to your understanding of the world we live in. (to be continued next post)

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Welcome

“Wisdom differs from knowledge being the application of what is known to the intelligent conduct of the affairs of human life.” – John Dewey

Welcome to philosophicalgudiance.com. This website and blog series is intended for anyone curious about philosophy, especially as a guide to enrich life and solve problems. Life it turns out is perplexing for many of us. Perhaps it is not surprising that this has been true throughout human history. For over 2500 years, a group of master thinkers has been trying to make sense of the universe, humanity, and the individual self in an ongoing dialogue, much of which is retained in little-read books. This is unfortunate as the problems of life are similar across time, and the texts they left us address, sometimes in a systematic way, the very problems that puzzle us today. Why are we here? Is there a God? What makes for a happy life? To be sure, there are current writers addressing these issues, but predominantly from a modern vantage point (such as psychology, humanism, or the strict materialism of physics) or a single perspective (such as Buddhism or Christianity). Of course these authors have been of great assistance to many people, but for the many of us, traditional philosophical approaches and literature expand the spectrum and flavor of thought that can be distilled into an individual philosophy of life. Conversely, typical philosophical textbooks offer historical and didactic information, while popular philosophy books simplify philosophical thought rather than lead readers to the writers themselves or prepare the reader for a stepwise or practical system for employing it. Popular psychology and self-help books are oriented to mental health and relationship issues with just a sprinkling of philosophy. This site represents one man’s attempt to bring together a variety of philosophical systems into a practical approach to understanding the world and life, with the goal of outlining a path one can individualize to discover a meaningful and flourishing existence.

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