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by Bill Meacham on August 25th, 2010

I am a philosopher, and I think I have figured some things out about how life works.

Philosophy is the discipline of thinking carefully and critically about very broad and important questions. Traditionally the questions are three:

* What’s real?
* How do we know what’s real?
* What shall we do about what’s real?

The last question is the crux of the matter. The word “philosophy” comes from two Greek words, philia, meaning affectionate, familial love, and sophia, meaning wisdom. So philosophy is the love of wisdom. The Greeks thought of wisdom in a very practical way: it meant knowing how to live one’s life, how to conduct oneself in order to live in a good way. Philosophy is the effort to find out how to live well.

Well, I have done that, and I have written it all up on my website, http://www.bmeacham.com/whatswhat. In particular, my on-line book, Being Human: Essence and Fulfillment, describes in some detail what is unique and special about human beings and what that means for how we can live our lives in a fulfilling way.

But the fact that I have it all figured out doesn’t mean my answers will work for you, dear reader, or anybody else. Even if I have got it all right – and I think I do, although I am always open to criticism – my answers won’t work for you unless you also figure it out for yourself.

Anybody can give you advice about how to live. Philosophy entails thinking clearly, rigorously and carefully about things, so that you have good reasons for what you think, and can explain those reasons to yourself and to others. Being able to explain them gives you some assurance that you can retrace your chain of thought so you know what you know – as opposed to what you merely think or suspect might be true – and why you know it. You have some protection against getting confused. Instead of just relying on the advice of others, you have thought about things yourself and have come to conclusions in which you feel confident. When you make decisions, you make them on the basis of what you believe to be true for very good reasons.

So what I can do is to present my findings, as it were, in the inquiry of life and hope that they spark your thinking about these important questions as well. The best outcome is that you come to your own conclusions and then act accordingly. The worst outcome is that you blindly and stubbornly stick to your prejudices without really examining the matter. In between, I suppose, is that you find my writing so persuasive that you believe it and act on it. I think you’d benefit from that. But how will you know?

From → Philosophy

9 Comments
  1. Khadija McMullin permalink

    How well you write, my friend! I’ve just read the intro, and regardless of whatever points you make, what a joy it is to read beautiful writing! Thank you.

  2. Michael Gest permalink

    Murshids beloved, Ya Fatah and best of luck. Thaks you for all your good toward us. Michael Gest

  3. Hi Bill:

    Look forward to reading your stuff.

    Love and blessings,

    Adam

  4. Amina Wolfe permalink

    You already show us how to live by example, with love in service, so this will be icing on the cake.
    Love,
    Amina

  5. Rahima Darwin permalink

    Blessings on this expansion of your endeavors to influence our realities in positive directions. Will be stopping by to see how the conversations are flowing in this, my first blog experience.
    You, your wisdom, and your humor, have long been held in respect and warmly in my heart
    with love, Rahima

  6. What a wonder you are… I love what you are doing…. The intro is great – what a lovely start.
    Love and Blessings,
    Amaliat

  7. ‘Philia’ does mean love, Bill, and also friendship, but ‘philos’ is the more germaine word. ‘Philia” and ‘philos’ both derive from the verb ‘phileo’ (to) love, but ‘philia’ is Ionic dialect, not the Attic dialect of Plato. The word ‘philosophos,’ meaning ‘lover of wisdom,’ was first used by Pythagoras, who so designated himself, rather than as simply ‘sophos,’ ‘a sage.’ -From Liddell and Scott. Plato, of course, was a Pythagorean.

  8. your blog is a welcomed newcomer to my musings,
    thankyou,
    Aziza

  9. Enjoy your musings..

    Or as i like to say, “The answer asks the question.”

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