Arts and Entertainment As Education and Training

Prisons should be rehabilitation centers. Inmates would be forbidden to watch commercial TV. Entertainment would be OK, but it would be good clean entertainment, not the sexual immorality, drug abuse and violence so prevalent on commercial TV.

Prisoners would also have a menu of cognitive therapy options available to choose from for their rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation and other educational opportunities will also be available.

Prisoner selection and progress in such programs will be monitored and considered in their reentry into society process.

I think Wyoming would be a great place to build prisons. Good jobs for Wyoming and placing them out in the relatively empty places in Wyoming would keep them away from society. I just think prisons and the whole rehabilitation industry would be good business for Wyoming.

Reforming Hollywood and other entertainment industry activities is another project we can work on to improve human nature and civilization. I am astonished that people think that murder and rape, and all kinds of human perversity is entertaining.

I guess the scientists who work in Hollywood have discovered how to push certain buttons in human nature and now they just keep pushing them, just like a pigeon will keep pushing the cocaine button in an experiment.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it. Make sure everyone wins in all your business activities. Deliver more than you promise. Trade good stuff for good stuff. Never sell poison for money, whether its physically, mentally or spiritually poisonous. Much of the entertainment available today is mentally and spiritually poisonous. And when people act out the fantasies they are watching, it becomes physically harmful.

We are all responsible for this. Society is whatever we make it. We can make a peaceful and prosperous society, or we can make this mean oppressive society that Hollywood is selling.

I encourage everyone to help make the world a better place, be kind friendly and polite. Practice peace and prosperity in your own personal and professional lives. Practice unity in diversity.

Love and respect each other. We are not seeking uniformity. The diversity inherent in human nature is a strength of human nature. We do need a common set of moral and spiritual principles that we can all agree to and practice in order to live in harmony with each other and our
natural habitat.

All You Wanted to Know About Life Casting

In the ancient days, life-like, three-dimensional imitations of a deceased person’s body were created to transport him or her to the next world. This venerable art from the land of Egypt is now being practiced all over the world.

However, one no longer has to be dead to get a life cast done! Yes, realistic and perfectly detailed reproductions of the living and breathing human body are possible today. The 3D replica manages to capture every minute detail right down to the hair, skin texture, fingerprints and even the pores.

This cherished reflection can be captured from any part of the body and impressions of baby hands and feet are particular popular. So are pregnant bellies, intertwined hands, individual torsos and so on.

How is it done?

A life cast begins with making a body mold. In fact, this forms a crucial step and success depends on both the skill of the artist and the cooperation of the model. In fact, the model is only involved at this stage and the artist will work on his own during the casting.

The life casting artist will carefully instruct the model and decide on a pose that has to be maintained for a while. The artist will do his best to ensure that the model stays comfortable, secure and stationary.

The artist coats the body part with petroleum jelly or other release agent before slathering it with an alginate mixture. This alginate is a natural product that is derived from seaweed and is completely safe for the skin. Softer set variations are also available that is gentle for infant skin. Alternatively, the artist can opt to make the body mold with skin-safe silicone rubber too.

The mold making material is carefully applied on the body. Extra attention is needed when casting the face as the mold should capture the precise shape and yet the material should not enter the eyes, mouth or nose. Alginate molds are secured with plaster bandages to enable the mold to retain its shape.

The mold will set in a matter of minutes and it can be demolding by wriggling the face a bit. Now alginate molds should be cast quickly as the material tends to shrink and distort quickly. Plaster is generally the material of choice for making life casts. Resin life casts are also popular. It is even possible to make life casts in stone, metal or wood by using cold casting powders.

The casting material is carefully poured into the body mold. Care is needed to avoid air bubbles that can easily mar the perfection of the life cast. Once cured, alginate molds are usually broken away to reveal the life cast inside. The cast is then carefully finished (to correct any imperfections) and can also be painted or buffed as required.

Performing Arts and Entertainment

Entertainment comes in all forms and fashions, from taking a walk in the park to going to your local movie theater. A wonderful form of entertainment that many people seem to overlook is performing arts entertainment. Performing arts entertainment is a great choice for all ages and all types of people. It offers a type of entertainment that going to a movie cannot fulfill. The inner feeling of seeing your favorite musical or play performed by live people is simply exasperating.

When it comes to choosing an event for a group of people, performing-arts entertainment reaches out to a large audience. Whether it is Monday date night and you need something to do together, or a place to take the class for a field trip. Performing arts offers plays for the young and the old ranging from dramas to comedies. The environment is suiting for the entire family and provides a great atmosphere to all.

It is important to not let culture die. Modern day people tend to resort to entertainment from areas that are killing tradition and leading to a dying breed and lack of diversity. The arts will take you back in time and make you feel as if you were sitting in the same room with people of the past in a wonderful indoor setting.

Performing-arts entertainment is put on hold because many people tend to think they cannot afford it. Plays and performances have lowered drastically in price and offer many packages and memberships to satisfy your needs. Remember, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to feel the culture alive than take the family to a performing arts production.

Impact of Technology On The Field of Arts And Entertainment

Nearly everyone enjoys the different types of entertainment, and some people enjoy even more being entertainers. They want to become actors, comedians, dancers, singers. We used to go inside theatres after a hard day’s work to relax and see our favorite plays. But only in the last hundred years have we been able to record sound and pictures and to broadcast them through air. These improvements have brought fun and entertainment to every corner of the world and into most of our homes.

Technology has indeed made it possible for us to see entertainment in a new light. For one, technology has made it also possible for us to store our memories. Actors and singers long dead seem to come to life again every time their films or records are played. We can store a seemingly countless number of these records and films in CDs, hard drives and other storing devices like our computer. This makes it possible for us to entertain ourselves almost anywhere- at home, at the office, at the park, the bus; as long as we bring our devices with us. One can actually live without TV these days as long as one has a computer device and internet connection.

The world of entertainment has grown tremendously, and it can teach us as well as entertain us. Today, broadcasting is the most important form of popular entertainment. But now it is challenged by still newer inventions. Video playback and recording equipments make it possible for home viewers to buy or record their favorite shows. Many classic movies are already available for home viewing. This new equipment may encourage many viewers to spend fewer hours watching network offerings of situation comedies and action dramas. And now, we can record, transfer, and produce our own videos using cellular phones.

At the same time, the internet has revolutionized viewing habits in another way. The internet provides information on a lot of sources for movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. With internet connection, people can bring programs directly into their computer by doing downloads and many of these downloads are offered for free. Not only does it provide entertainment but we can even do some transactions like when you want to buy stun guns online.

The internet offer entertainment on almost all particular interests- music, news, and special information such as stock markets, weather, and social networking. These sources are made available to us faster than ever, as fast as the stun gun effects. We can update on news even before they get broadcasted on TV through the different websites on the internet.

Never in recorded history have Entertainment and arts been so important in the lives of so many people. Modern inventions such as the internet have put nearly every person within reach of music and drama all day, every day, at home, and away from home. The internet has also made it possible for people not just become viewers but also the performers themselves as they are able to upload their own videos on different sites. The future of entertainment and arts is taking shape through technology and the people themselves.

Closer To Reality: Philosophy

Regarding Philosophy

- Everybody, including readers here, have personal beliefs. Almost by definition, if you have a personal belief, you believe that belief to be obviously true. You are not an exception to that rule; I am not an exception to that rule. Part of the construction of personal beliefs is adopting definitions that re-enforce those beliefs. You seem to think that each and every term or phrase has a unique one and only one definition that is carved in stone. If things were that clear-cut, it would be impossible to have debates since everybody would have to absolutely agree on the unique one and only one possible definition before-the-fact of each and every term that will be under discussion. Thus, 100% of everybody would agree on 100% of everything. Somehow the world doesn’t seem to work that way. Sorry ’bout that.

- Actually I suspect not everyone will be mentally capable of answering any and all deep existential and metaphysical questions. I also suspect not everyone who is mentally capable of coming to terms with what you consider to be deep existential and metaphysical questions will actually give a stuff. The highest priorities or interests of some of the great unwashed often has nothing to do with what you or even I might term The Big Questions.

- Philosophy (of causation or anything else) is not a subject whose postulates are set in stone, absolutely fixed, pinned to the wall and not subject to debate. Philosophy is full of debatable waffle, so there is probably no such thing as any central point, but rather central points depending on what side of the fence you are sitting on; maybe even sitting on the fence. If you’re sitting on the left side of the fence you’re going to miss or misunderstand the central point put by someone sitting on the right side of the fence – and vice-versa. There is no such thing in philosophy as “has to be”, otherwise it wouldn’t be philosophy, which for all practical purposes is a something that “has to be” something that everyone can agree to disagree on, hence debate.

- The Accidental Meta-physician gives the thumbs down to those who wax lyrical outside of their field(s) of expertise. If you’re not a formally trained professional philosopher therefore, you have little street credibility when it comes to dealing with the Big Questions. Nix to that viewpoint.

It would appear that everyone with FORMAL training in philosophy have had no luck in answering the Big Questions. It that had been the case, all of those Big Questions would no longer be a part of philosophy but reside in cosmology or physics or neurology or the law or elsewhere. There would be no debate about a before-the-Big-Bang or the Copenhagen (or Many Worlds) interpretation of quantum physics or free will or dualism or morality.

Now if professional philosophers adopt drastically differing positions on any one Big Question, ranging from one extreme to the other extreme, then sorry, there’s no rhyme or reason the rest of us great unwashed can’t enter the fray. Formal training in philosophy leads no closer to truth than the average John Doe pondering the same Big Questions. Philosophy is one of those fields where anyone can join in and strut their stuff, unlike say medicine or law or various other professional fields that really do require expertise. We’re all experts in philosophy since we all apply philosophical principles and positions to ourselves and the world around us. I’d better not practice unlicensed medicine on myself, and I’d better not be my own lawyer, but I’m quite okay in pondering my own free will, or lack of it.

- Though I’ve been accused of it, I never recall saying that philosophy hasn’t made progress. All fields of inquiry make progress as newcomers add to what has gone before. My beef here is that unlike many other professions, philosophy isn’t an exclusive professional ‘members only’ club. And agreeing to disagree seems to be a mantra of or between professional philosophers. Never have so many debated for so long with so little conclusive results, although, as the Accidental Meta-physician says, progress happens.

However, IMHO, if two (or more) professional philosophers can find themselves on totally opposite sides of an issue involving say theology, free will, consciousness, the nature of time, etc., then all that formal training doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, unlike say the medical profession where one would expect a reasonable degree of consensus when it comes to a diagnosis. Squabbling siblings can argue opposites just as effectively as professional philosophers with equal results.

Since philosophical questions are unanswerable questions, I put just as much stock in the opinions of John & Jane Doe, even myself, as I do the professionals. Philosophy is one of the few professions where I feel safe in making that judgement. I wouldn’t go to just anyone for legal advice or medical advice.

Further, philosophy is one of those subjects that can be self-taught, though for best results it helps to have a sparring partner(s), usually and easily found down at the local pub.

- The professional philosopher may be more adapt at writing textbooks and tossing around unpronounceable jargon, but that doesn’t mean he or she thinks any more deeply about an issue than the average person in society.

- Philosophy on the whole is pretty worthless, for while it asks consistent questions, it fails to give consistent answers. About all that can be said for philosophy is that it gives you options, but from that point on you gotta do the hard yards and sort things out for yourself. So philosophy is pretty much a do-it-yourself activity. So in that context it’s marginally more interesting than watching paint dry or the grass growing.

- I’ve watched many a Big Question interview, such as you find on the website “Closer to Truth”, coming out none the wiser about what the heck the philosopher in question was on about. That just re-enforces a previous comment I made in a long ago previous post that, for example, “Closer to Truth” should pick a panel of kids from say 10 to 14 or so and interview them on all of the Big Questions. Kids would be really quick smart to cut through all of the jargon and associated bovine fertilizer. Sophisticated it wouldn’t be, but they would cut right to the chase.

- Apparently philosophy and logic intellectually trump all else, or at least that’s the impression I get from the Accidental Meta-physician.

Let’s see, what were those 3 R’s again? Oh yes, reading, ‘righting and ‘rithmetic! Somehow philosophy got left out of the essentials. Going back to my high school days, philosophy was never a required subject, unlike English and history and bonehead general mathematics and science; even gym was required. Actually I couldn’t have studied philosophy in high school even if I had wanted to. It was never a part of the curriculum in any shape, manner or form. And philosophy was never a mandatory subject when I was a university either. Seems in the grand educational scheme of things, philosophy isn’t regarded all that highly as an essential to having a well rounded education. Why’s that? Alas, apparently that’s all just a quirk of cultural history – an anomaly; a mistake.

So our Accidental Meta-physician seems to be saying that reading, writing and arithmetic are not as important as philosophy when it comes to having to make your way in this world. I mean his excuse to the IRS tax office might be – sorry I couldn’t do my tax return because I don’t know how to add and subtract, but I know philosophy if that’s any help. Methinks that if you go for a job interview I’d bet that your ability to read and write and do basic mathematics will weigh more heavily in the panel’s consideration of your suitability than your ability to pontificate on the Big Questions! You couldn’t post your philosophical thoughts here without first having mastered reading and writing. I want my GP to know medicine, not philosophy. The plumber had better know plumbing first, philosophy second. There are multi dozens of professions, emergency service workers and supermarket clerks come to mind, that are essential in our society without those professions requiring detailed or even any understanding of philosophy. Your military officer had just better obey orders as opposed to endlessly pondering the philosophical issues and consequences of those orders, even if there are philosophical issues and consequences. Shoot first; ask questions later.

- When it comes to the average person trying to manage their average day and overcoming the average challenges faced, the 3 R’s have a more useful application than philosophy or logic or indeed quantum physics or evolutionary biology. It would be really nice if we all could be omniscient but there are only so many years one can spend in high school / college / university / adult education; there are only so many hours in the day; the human brain does not have an indefinite capacity to absorb more and more and more. Thus, priorities have to be set, firstly by federal, state and local government and their school boards (the schooling curriculum) and by parents and ultimately by students when they reach a certain age. Anyone believing along the lines of the Accidental Meta-physician are of course free as a private citizen to lobby the relevant powers-that-be to elevate the teaching of philosophy and logic in say years 7 to 12 – as electives. Actually it sounds like a good idea to me. I can find no philosophical or logical objection to this.

- The Accidental Meta-physician laments the decline in the levels of comprehension or understanding in the areas of logic and mathematics in the greater population. On this we basically agree.

I haven’t seen or read about any studies done on rational / logical thinking and whether it is in decline or not, or what comparisons there are with respect to other nations. However, there have been many studies done that show a rather sharp decline in the ability of students, even university and graduate students to do bonehead mathematics using pencil and paper, a phenomena that seems to cut across many of the traditional English speaking countries, not just USA. Apparently many attribute this to the ready access of electronic calculators that comes part and parcel with smart phones, laptops, PC’s, and as just standalone instruments as solely functional calculators. I gather they are even allowed in many exam rooms now. Of course in the retail trade now electronic scanners now do the sums and calculate change. Everything is electronically calculated so sales staff don’t have to worry about that aspect of their jobs. Fortunately, I can still do elementary mathematics using pencil and paper.

Teaching Philosophy in Schools


Over recent years there has been a growing movement pushing for the inclusion of Philosophy in schools.[1]

As a subject, Philosophy is broad. It can be separated into many sub-disciplines such as Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science, to name a few. These sub-disciplines reduce back to three broad pillars of Philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology.

Regardless of where one’s philosophical interest sits, the essential skill set remains the same. This is the ability to reason. Philosophers produce rationally convincing arguments and critically assess the arguments of others.

In this fictional dialogue Socrates meets with Allison Fells, the Principal of Western Heights School, to discuss the inclusion of Philosophy in the school curriculum. Socrates has been running a successful Philosophy club at school and believes that students would benefit through the extension of the club into the regular school curriculum. Socrates argues that Philosophy equips students with the skill set needed to live the good life.

The Dialogue

Fells: Good morning Socrates. Please come in and take a seat.

Socrates: Thank you Ms. Fells. It is good of you to see me at such short notice.

Fells: I like to make time to talk to people when possible. I’ve been told that you would like to talk about the school curriculum.

Socrates: Yes, that’s correct. Specifically, I would like to talk to you about the place of Philosophy in the curriculum. There are no Philosophy classes at Western Heights, and I would like to discuss the possibility of introducing the subject.

Fells: You’re running a Philosophy club after school. From what I’ve been told, it is quite well attended. Why do you think we also need classes?

Socrates: The club only meets for one hour per week. The issues we discuss are deserving of more time. At most, an hour per week provides an introduction to Philosophy, but does not allow for any depth of discussion.

Fells: I understand what you’re saying Socrates. But I’m sorry to say that we don’t currently have the capacity to add a Philosophy class to our timetable.

Socrates: I admit that I do not understand the intricacies of timetable design, but it seems to me that it would be a relatively simple matter to add a subject. There are two empty classrooms. I could take one of them.

Fells: But where would you get the students from? They all have full timetables. The school curriculum is comprehensive and we need to cover a lot of material. We can’t simply pull students out of other subjects to switch to Philosophy.

Socrates: Perhaps it could be optional.

Fells: My concern is that students might join your Philosophy class at the expense of something important that they really need, like English or Mathematics.

Socrates: English and Mathematics are indeed worthy subjects. Are you assuming that Philosophy is less important than English and Mathematics?

Fells: I wouldn’t put it that way. What I mean is that English and Mathematics are needed, while Philosophy is interesting, but not essential.

Socrates: As a novice in the field of education I am eager to learn. What makes something essential?

Fells: Well, to put it bluntly, the essential subjects are the ones that prepare students to function well in society and get a job.

Socrates: Are you suggesting that the purpose of education is to prepare students to function well in society and get a job?

Fells: Yes.

Socrates: That seems rather a narrow purpose. Why does your school offer subjects such as music, art, and physical education? Are these taught so that students can function well in society and get a job?

Fells: Not directly. But they contribute to the overall student. They make the student a knowledgeable, interested member of society.

Socrates: So part of the purpose of education is to produce knowledgeable, interested members of society?

Fells: Yes, Socrates. And this contributes to their functioning well in society.

Socrates: It seems to me that if the purpose of education is to produce people who can function well in society, we need subjects that provide more than job readiness. This is why you include subjects such as music, art, and physical education. Would you consider these subjects essential?

Fells: I think these subjects are important.

Socrates: Allow me to pose another question. Would you think that education was serving its purpose if it was producing knowledgeable, interested, and well functioning members of society who get jobs, but who are unhappy and living in a state of despair?

Fells: I’d question why they are living in a state of despair, but I wouldn’t necessarily blame education.

Socrates: I understand why you wouldn’t want to blame education. However, do you agree that suitably educated people are able to assess their lives, make wise decisions, and thus avoid unhappiness and despair?

Fells: Possibly. But that does not lead me to think that the purpose of education is to help people avoid unhappiness and despair.

Socrates: We have agreed that the purpose of education is to prepare students to function well in society, have we not?

Fells: Yes we have, Socrates.

Socrates: Do you think people can function well in society if they are unhappy and in a state of despair?

Fells: I suppose it depends on the extent of their unhappiness, but probably not. I imagine their depression would cause problems. Some people might end up with drug addictions or the inability to commit to a job.

Socrates: So when I asked about knowledgeable, interested, well functioning members of society, who get jobs, but who are unhappy and in despair, I was imagining the impossible, correct? We can’t have well functioning members of society who are unhappy and in a state of despair. They wouldn’t function well.

Fells: It seems not.

Socrates: To function well in society, people must be happy, do you agree?

Fells: Based on our discussion so far, yes, I agree.

Socrates: Shall we describe people who are happy, knowledgeable, interested, and functioning well in society as living the good life?

Fells: That sounds like a reasonable description of living a good life.

Socrates: Okay. Let’s talk a little more about happiness and the good life. We have agreed that happiness is a component of the good life.

Fells: Yes, we have.

Socrates: So, it would seem that to live the good life, one must seek happiness.

Fells: That follows.

Socrates: Tell me, if you had never seen a bird, would you be able to seek one out?

Fells: I suppose not. I may stumble upon one by accident, but if I didn’t know what it was, I’d be likely to ignore it.

Socrates: So if a person needs to seek happiness in order to live the good life, it follows that he or she would need to know what happiness is. I think we should talk more about this. We have not yet developed a working definition of happiness.

Fells: It seems straightforward to me, Socrates. We all know what happiness is.

Socrates: I am not so sure. Tell me, Ms. Fells, if a person functions well in their society, but is entirely selfish, would you think they are living the good life?

Fells: Sure. Why not? They might be perfectly happy with the way they live their life. We have said that the good life is lived by those who are happy, knowledgeable, and functioning well in society.

Socrates: What do you think is the better life: one in which a person is knowledgeable, interested, functions well in society, but is selfish, avoids paying tax, and focuses on gaining material wealth; or one in which a person is knowledgeable, interested, functions well in society, helps others, pays his tax, and focuses not on material wealth, but on ensuring the health of his humanity?

Fells: What do you mean by “humanity”?

Socrates: In the past I would have used the term “soul”. Really what I mean is the state of the person as a just, benevolent, and humane being.

Fells: Okay. When you present it as a dichotomy in this way, I would be foolish not to agree that the second option is preferred. But in both cases, the person could be happy.

Socrates: Let us see if this is true. Is it your opinion that a person can achieve happiness by focusing on gaining material wealth?

Fells: I would say so, Socrates. They gain happiness from the things they buy.

Socrates: But if a person equates happiness with material gain, he needs to constantly acquire more possessions in order to be happy. How, then, could he ever achieve happiness? There is always something else to buy. Wouldn’t such a person simply have moments of pleasure, but always be wanting more, thus never being fulfilled and never achieving true happiness?

Fells: I can agree to this point Socrates. However, suppose that a person has gained as much material wealth as he wants. He doesn’t want anything else. Surely then he would be happy.

Socrates: Are you suggesting that the mere possession of this material wealth is sufficient to make this person happy?

Fells: Yes. He might be completely happy with what he has.

Socrates: Here you seem to be saying that his material wealth makes him happy because he is happy with his material wealth. Isn’t this circular? It doesn’t seem to provide us with an answer to what happiness is, does it?

Fells: You philosophers are annoying.

Socrates: You see that this is an important issue to settle, do you not? If people want to live the good life, and if happiness is a necessary component of the good life, then people need to know what happiness is. Now, you are suggesting that happiness is achieved through wealth and material possessions, but I am not sure this is enough.

Let’s continue. Do you agree that material wealth, in itself, is neither good nor bad?

Fells: I agree to this

Socrates: Very good. I think we are making progress. Tell me now, Ms. Fells, do you agree that wisdom is good and ignorance is bad?

Fells: I think so. I certainly think wisdom is better than ignorance.

Socrates: Okay. Now, is it plausible that a wise person will put material wealth to good use and achieve happiness, while an ignorant person may be wasteful and end up in a worse position, and thus achieve the opposite of happiness?

Fells: How so?

Socrates: Consider a famous performer who has amassed a vast fortune. This fortune itself does not produce happiness, so the performer decides to seek happiness in rich food. His health suffers, and happiness is elusive. The performer then attempts to gain happiness by throwing parties and drinking large quantities of alcohol. But this does not work. Eventually the performer turns to stronger drugs in order to satisfy his desire for happiness. The drugs are addictive and lead to a cycle of behavior that causes relationship problems and the loss of much of his fortune. Do you understand this example?

Fells: Okay Socrates. You make a fair point. Material wealth does not necessarily bring happiness. If bad decisions are made, material wealth can prevent happiness.

Socrates: Indeed. So the key to attaining happiness is not material wealth itself because material wealth is neither good nor bad. However, ignorant action can be bad and wise action good, so what’s important is knowledge of how to put material wealth to good use. And if we put the issue of material wealth aside, we see that this applies to life decisions in general. If people make poor decisions about their life, happiness will remain out of reach. Many years ago I suggested that the unexamined life is not worth living.[2] This is precisely what I meant. It seems to me, then, that wisdom is the route to happiness.

Fells: Can you tell me more?

Socrates: I am pleased to elaborate. We have agreed that happiness is not to be found in material wealth. Instead, happiness is found in the decisions one makes about one’s own life. Everyone has the ability to choose their life direction. The ignorant person may choose a direction that is focused on merely satisfying his or her desires. But the wise person can recognize which desires are worth satisfying and which ones prevent a sense of overall purpose and the ability to function well. The wise person understands human nature and how to bring out the best of their own humanity.[3] Achieving this is happiness.

Fells: This is much more complex than I had ever realized.

Socrates: Perhaps we should pause to summarize our discussion thus far.

Fells: Yes, please. That would be useful.

Socrates: It will be useful for us both. Please correct me if I am wrong. We have agreed that to be happy, one needs to know how to live a life in which the focus is not on the accumulation of material wealth, but is instead focused on one’s own humanity. We have also agreed that the purpose of education is to prepare students to be knowledgeable, interested, happy, well functioning members of society. We have called this the good life. So, it follows from what we have said that the purpose of education is to prepare students to live the good life.

Fells: Based on what we have discussed, I agree that the purpose of education can be summarized as preparing students to live the good life.

Socrates: Then I think we have our first premise in an argument for including Philosophy as a subject at Western Heights School:

Premise 1: The purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life.

Shall we proceed?

Fells: You have captured my interest, Socrates. Yes, let’s continue.

Socrates: Excellent. Now, consider this proposition: The purpose of an Internet provider is to provide Internet access to its customers. Am I correct?

Fells: Yes, you are correct, Socrates.

Socrates: Would you agree that if the purpose of an Internet provider is to provide Internet access to its customers, then procedures and equipment specialized in providing Internet access to customers should be available within the company?

Fells: Yes, of course.

Socrates: If we apply this analogy to the field of education, we have the second premise in our argument:

Premise 2: If the purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life, then subjects that specialize in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life should be offered in schools.

Fells: I understand your point, Socrates. But before you go on to suggest that we don’t have suitable subjects on offer, I need to remind you that we have a robust curriculum here at Western Heights. I believe our curriculum is sufficient to meet the stated purpose of education. Many subjects can prepare students to live the good life.

Socrates: I wonder to what extent your subjects do, in fact, equip students to live the good life. We have agreed that all subjects contribute to the development of a well functioning person, but not all subjects specialize in preparing students to live the good life.

Consider this scenario: suppose that the purpose of education is to prepare students to be excellent musicians. I can imagine some subjects incidentally covering elements of music training. However, I also know that music teachers specialize in running classes that offer musical training. On balance, what do you think provides the best guarantee that students will leave school as an excellent musician: having music covered in classes such as English and Mathematics, or having it taught as a specialized subject?

Fells: You are leading me to agree that it would need to be taught as a specialized subject. I’d be foolish to disagree when you word it this way.

Socrates: We agree, then, that it is better to offer a specialized subject rather than leaving it to chance. So, if Philosophy is the subject that specializes in providing the tools for living the good life, you must agree that we should offer Philosophy classes at Western Heights. What do you think?

Fells: I agree that if the goal of education is to prepare students to live the good life, then if Philosophy specializes in this goal, then we would be best to offer it as a class at Western Heights.

Socrates: Very good. This brings us to our third premise:

Premise 3: Philosophy specializes in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life

Tell me, how much do you know about Philosophy?

Fells: Not much to be honest. I haven’t had much time to explore it. I know it involves asking unusual questions and talking about religion.

Socrates: We do indeed ask questions in Philosophy. And some of those questions are related to religion, but many are not. Why do you think we like to ask questions in Philosophy?

Fells: I suppose questions provide a context for discussion and debate.

Socrates: Certainly, yes. But the end goal of Philosophy is not discussion and debate. The word “Philosophy” means “love of wisdom”. We ask questions to better understand what it is to be human. We also seek to understand our place in this vast universe. Sometimes our questions are unanswered, but our exploration of philosophical questions moves us closer to gaining clarity and knowledge.

Now, we have agreed that in order to be happy and live the good life, one needs to know how to live a life in which the focus is not on the accumulation of material wealth but is instead focused on one’s own humanity. Am I correct?

Fells: Yes, we did come to this agreement.

Socrates: How did we come to this agreement?

Fells: We talked through the issues and reached a conclusion.

Socrates: That’s right. We carefully worked through the issue. We reasoned. We have reasoned about what constitutes the good life. This is what we do in Philosophy. Philosophy is the subject that specializes in providing the tools with which to reason and gain wisdom, and we have agreed that wisdom is required for people to know how to live the good life.

I believe we have a completed the construction of the argument. May I summarize?

Fells: Please, go ahead.

Socrates: We have done well today, Ms. Fells. From our discussion we have built three premises that lead to the conclusion that Philosophy should be offered in schools.

Premise 1: The purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life.

Premise 2: If the purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life, then subjects that specialize in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life should be offered in schools.

Premise 3: Philosophy specializes in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life.

Therefore, Philosophy should be offered in schools

From here, I suggest that since Western Heights is a school, Philosophy should be offered at Western Heights.

Fells: Your reasoning is impeccable Socrates. I admit that although I find your approach rather annoying – you just don’t take “no” for an answer – I have enjoyed our discussion. Is this how you plan to run your Philosophy classes?

Socrates: My aim is to develop these skills in students so that they too can construct convincing arguments and assess the arguments of others.

Fells: The process is good, and you have convinced me that Philosophy is a worthy subject. Yes, it should be offered in schools. I cannot promise that we will include it, but I will certainly give it some careful thought and will consult with our school board of trustees. I hope you understand that I can’t commit right now.

Socrates: I am happy that you are willing to consider it. Shall I come back next week?

Fells: It may take longer than a week for me to work through this.

Socrates: I shall see you next week.

Costume Play Is A Popular Hobby

Do you like dressing up in costumes for Halloween or a special event? Would you like to be able to attend more functions with costumes? Then Cosplay is for you. This is the “hottest”creative and imaginative hobby being enjoyed by amateurs and professionals.

No, there are no lines to memorize and you do not have to act in a play or any type of theatre performance. Select a character that you would like to be and become that personality for a period of time.

People who participate in this activity can be found at celebrity, sci-fi, and other types of conventions which welcome costumed personalities. They can also be found at promotional events such as books or movies.

Costume ideas:

Space creatures
Military and other combative characters
Fantasy creatures
Mythical characters and creatures
Movie characters
Super heroes
Cartoon characters
Sexual fantasies
Distorted human appearances
Original creations fabricated by your imagination

The participants of this activity enjoy making their personal creations whether it is original or copying a favorite character of their choice. These people take great pride in their talents and skills which are needed to assemble a costume.

Regardless if the costume is purchased, rented or made by your skillful hands, cosplay is a lot of fun.

In addition to entertainment for self or others this interest may:

Jumpstart a new career
Photos of your costume may win contests, modeling, or a movie invitation
Satisfy your need to portray various characters
Meet celebrities and other famous people at the conventions and costumed promotions
New social life with people who share your interest
Satisfy your creativity and imagination

Various talents used in arts and crafts are utilized in making these costumes. Copying and duplicating a simple character can be easy or an ordeal depending on your skills.

A monster or a military costume will involve crafts from plastics, foam, wiring, electronics, metal assembly, and more which may be needed for the costume and the props. In this example sewing fabric, fur, feathers, skins, leather, and other garment needs may require a sewing machine or hand stitching may be the solution.

Regardless if the costume is purchased, rented or made by your skillful hands, cosplay is a lot of fun.

This an up and coming “hot” hobby for everyone to enjoy. There is a niche for any interest, talent or skill which you may possess and wish to keep active.

Arts and Entertainment News from Hollywood North

Boys Come… Boy’s Co.

“John Lennon & Yoko Ono Bed-In for Peace”

Ask any girl. Those rules were bent Friday night when I happened upon old flame David Goldman still going strong at his Boy’s Co exclusive opening of “All We Are Saying” – a fashionable evening featuring the original photographs of “John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace” by the late photojournalist Gerry Deiter.

These extraordinary photographs, providing the backdrop for the theme of the evening, were on display through the sagacity of the Elliott Louis Gallery’s owner Ted Lederer – who single-handedly dragged them out of Deiter’s vault for a first-time showing on May 26, 2004 – thirty-five years after John Lennon and Yoko Ono went to bed in a suite in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, and invited the entire world to join them in seeking an alternative to violence and war in solving global political and social problems.

May 26, 1969. That month the battle of Dong Ap Bia, a.k.a. Hamburger Hill was exploding in the Vietnam War. Race riots occurred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. French Foreign Legion paratroopers landed in Kolwezi, Zaire, to rescue Europeans caught in the middle of a civil war. U.S. National Guard helicopters sprayed skin-stinging powder on anti-war protesters in California. It was two years after the Summer of Love.

John and Yoko were in room 1742 of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. Early in the Bed-In, a reporter asked John what he was trying to do. John said, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” Putting sounds to the thought, he rented an 8-track tape machine from a local music store and, on May 31 while in bed, recorded the first solo by a single Beatle,” Give Peace a Chance”, – the recording was attended by dozens of journalists and various celebrities, including Timothy Leary, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory and Canada’s Tommy Smothers.

Gerry Deiter was there for the entire eight days. He was assigned to photograph the Bed-In for Peace by Life Magazine but Life never ran the feature. Ironically, it fell victim to a bigger story – the death of Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam.

Deiter kept the negatives and transparencies locked away for more than 30 years. He had been living aboard a classic wooden motor yacht cruising the wilderness of the British Columbia coast photographing and writing when Ted Lederer, with the help of family and friends, prevailed on him to bring this archive to life and offer the work to the public at the Elliott Louis Gallery in 2004. This amazing work offers up 25 images in colour and black and white that celebrate John and Yoko’s example of peace and love.

What brought the Boy’s Co show together were Goldman and Lederer meeting up on the field where their sons play soccer. It was a confluence that allowed for a new generation to have a special glimpse of an older one.

Disenchanted fan, Mark David Chapman, murdered Lennon on December 8, 1980. The world is still at war. This retrospective clearly speaks to Lennon’s prescience.

Good on Deiter, Goldman and Lederer for keeping his mission in our faces.

Devorah Macdonald is a freelance writer living and working in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her professional career began as a disc jockey in California, Seattle and her hometown of Vancouver BC.

Vancouver Magazine, in an article titled ‘Video Vixen’, hailed her as having “the best female voice in radio locally,” going on to compare her world-weary delivery with Linda Ellerbee, formerly of the ‘Today Show’ and the award winning ‘Nick News’.

A ten-year retirement devoted to creating three children, “one of each,” according to Macdonald, now allows time write on music, movies and television.

Today’s Golden Age of Philosophy

Few people know this, but our age is an amazing time for people who love philosophy.

When I was in college 30 years ago, philosophy was strictly an academic exercise and there were few resources available for people, like me, who view philosophy more as a way of life or avocation than as a job.

Today, however, all that has changed.

There are three or four excellent “magazines” about philosophy – such as Philosophy Now and The Philosopher’s Magazine – that are filled with funny, off-beat, irreverent articles about philosophical topics. A number of top-rate publishing houses, mostly in the UK, such as Routledge and Blackwell Publishing, produce books aimed at a general philosophical readership.

There are philosophy radio programs such as Philosophy Talk, coffee houses, salons, adult education classes and literally hundreds of websites for the interested reader. There are even philosophy comic books, such as LogiComix about the life of British logician Bertrand Russell. It’s simply amazing. It’s a golden age of philosophy, I think.

The irony, however, is that there is still no solid consensus on what, precisely, philosophy actually is. In its historical and etymological sense, philosophy is literally “love (philia) of wisdom (Sophia),” and that is always how I have looked upon it. Philosophy, for me, is the attempt to reflect upon experience in order to understand more about life and how we are to live. My aims, like those of Socrates, are primarily practical: I want to understand the world and myself to live better.

Today, there are three, perhaps four major “schools” or approaches to philosophy, each with their own journals, intellectual heroes and methodologies. It is one of the scandals of contemporary philosophy that these schools are somewhat incommensurable, meaning they are so different in their approaches and ideals they are almost incapable of speaking to one another. It’s as though organic chemistry and 17th century French literature are forced to share the same offices and pretend they are the same discipline (I exaggerate but you get the point).

The first approach may be called, for lack of a better word, Traditional Philosophy: this is the approach now largely taught only in Catholic universities. It is primarily historical in orientation, a “history of philosophy” style in which students study the thought of, say, the ancient Greeks, and Descartes, the British empiricists, Kant, Hegel and so on. There is very little attempt to think through how the thought of these philosophical greats can be reconciled. The idea appears to be that by working through all of these great thinkers, eventually the student will come to his or her own philosophical conclusions — although there is really no fixed “method” or approach given for doing so. I always think of this as the University of Chicago or Great Books approach. A variation of this approach is Catholic philosophy, including various schools of Thomism (such as the Transcendental Thomism of Merechal, Karl Rahner and, my guru, Bernard J.F. Lonergan)

The second major approach to philosophy today is what is known as Continental Philosophy. This is the philosophy that is most commonly taught in Europe and, again, in some Catholic universities in the U.S. In practice, it means primarily the philosophical systems of phenomenology, existentialism, so-called “critical theory” and their postmodern descendants. When I was in college, this is what I studied (in addition to traditional philosophy). We read the classic texts of phenomenology as well as such trendy philosophers as Jean-Paul Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Max Scheler, Edith Stein and others. Today, those names have largely been replaced by those of postmodern French thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard. While classical Husserlian phenomenology does attempt to “solve” major philosophical problems and actually be a descriptive science, in practice students of Continental Philosophy, like their Traditional Philosophy counterparts, spend much of their time studying the works of individual thinkers and writing papers on aspects of their thought. (There is a greater interest in Continental Philosophy in social and political questions, however.)

The third and allegedly dominant approach to philosophy today is Analytic Philosophy. This is the philosophy most commonly taught in the UK and in major U.S. universities. Built upon the infrastructure of British empiricists such as David Hume, Analytic Philosophy appeared in the early 20th century through the work of such thinkers as Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, G.E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. When I was in college, I found Analytic Philosophy to be mostly unintelligible gibberish. The emphasis on symbolic logic and the solving of trivial intellectual “puzzles” was, to me, an absurd waste of time.

In the past few years, however, I’ve been reading more about Analytic Philosophy and I am now much more impressed. Analytic Philosophy has matured over the past few decades and is now more of a philosophical “style” than it is a collection of doctrines. The style is more like that of my hero, Bernard J.F. Lonergan, in that Analytic Philosophy is much more interested in actually solving philosophical problems than it is in clarifying the thought of past philosophers. Thus, Analytic Philosophy is characterized by a thematic, rather than a “history of philosophy,” approach. It uses or creates a specialized technical vocabulary to elucidate the various “options” available in any given philosophical issue — marshals the evidence in favor or against those options — and then attempts to actually “settle” the issue. It’s actually quite refreshing.

The only problem with Analytic Philosophy from the perspective of a traditional philosopher or “lover of wisdom” is that it’s still focused primarily on trivial problems or mere puzzles (perhaps because those are the easiest ones to “solve”). Academic analytic philosophy is often little more than “chloroform in print,” boring to the point of dispatching its readers into a catatonic stupor. The cure for this tedium has been, over the past several years, the appearance of those popular philosophy journals and publishing houses I mentioned earlier. Precisely because they are aiming at a wider audience, the popular philosophy authors have to turn their attention to the Big Issues that interest real people – and thus are forced by the market to abandon the tedium beloved by academics and use their philosophical skills to address topics people actually care about. An example of how wonderful this can be is a book I am reading right now, Michael Sandel’s magisterial Justice. It’s clear, concise, lays open the various options available on contentious issues, concerns serious subjects (what is justice?) and doesn’t resort to pretentious displays of symbolic logic to make its points.

These days, I mostly read good Catholic philosophy (such as can be found in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly or Method: A Journal of Lonergan Studies ) and “popular” analytic books such as Justice or those produced by Routledge. I still can’t read academic analytic philosophy journals. I tried subscribing to Faith and Philosophy, the (mostly analytic) journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers, but found it deadly dull and exhibiting the worst aspects of analytic pretentiousness. Here’s a sample, taken from John Turri’s essay, “Practical and Epistemic Justification in Alston’s Perceiving God” (July 2008, p. 290):

“Alston’s thesis is that putative perceptions of God often justify beliefs about God. A subject S has a putative perception of God when S has an experience e in which it seems to S that God appears to S as P. If, based on e, S forms the “M-belief” that God is P, then S has a justified belief that God is P. An M-belief is a belief that God is P, which is based on a putative perception of God. (I will often substitute ‘q’ for the proposition that God is P.) I dunno. My reaction to writing like that is the same as George Will’s: Just because life is absurd that doesn’t mean philosophy should be as well.

I don’t mean to pick on John Turri, whom I am sure is a great guy and a lot smarter than I am. But this sort of stuff is meant solely for professional philosophers in universities — and is largely what turns people off to philosophy as an academic discipline. If Socrates had spoken like that, they probably would have forced him to drink hemlock much earlier and philosophy would never have gotten off the ground.

Psychology and Philosophy – Uneasy Siblings

Most of us who work in some aspect of philosophy have had the experience of trying to explain to someone that philosophy is not psychology. To those members of the philosophical set, the distinction may seem obvious, but any attempt to spell it out requires some careful thought and reflection, which is what I attempt to do in this exercise.

Is Psychology a sibling of Philosophy? Surely in the past they were close siblings, members of the same family, philosophy. Today the relationship between the two is more problematic. Does work in philosophy have any relation to the student’s psychological state? The answer also is not a clear-cut one. Philosophy can help a person psychologically, but this is not central to the function of philosophy.

Some History:

Historically in Western Philosophy, Psychology was part of philosophy until the 19th century when it became a separate science. In the 17th and 18th centuries, many Western philosophers did pioneering work in areas that later came to be known as “psychology.” Eventually psychological inquiry and research became separate sciences some of which could be characterized as the study and research into the mind. In short, psychology became identified as the science of mind insofar as its function is to analyze and explain mental processes: our thoughts, experiences, sensations, feelings, perceptions, imaginations, creativity, dreams and so on. It is mostly an empirical and experimental science; although the field of psychology does include the more theoretical Freudian psychology and the more speculative Jungian psychology.

When we study Western Philosophy, we find a concentrated effort to maintain a distinction between philosophical and psychological considerations. But these have not always been kept separate. Even today some areas of philosophy remain intermixed with psychological considerations. It may be that some forms of philosophy can never break away completely from psychological issues.
Traditionally, philosophers in the Western tradition did not always observe a wall of separation between philosophy and psychology. For example, Baruch Spinoza’s great work, Ethics, includes many observations and insights about our reasoning processes and emotions. The early works in Epistemology (theory of knowledge) by such thinkers as Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant include a great deal of observations and statements about mental processes connected with knowing and belief. In other words, these writings tend to mix psychological statements (process of knowing) with conceptual philosophy.

But there are differences between psychology and philosophy which are significant and should be observed in careful writing in either area. In our critiques of these 17th and 18th works in epistemology, we try to separate the philosophical theme (logic, conceptual and propositional evaluation) from the psychological aspect (causes of belief, mental process underlying perception). Scientific work that seeks to understand and explain the workings of the brain and the neurological processes which underlie thought and experience (viz., psychology) is different from philosophical inquiry into mind, consciousness, knowledge and experiences. Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, takes great pains to keep his philosophy separate from empirical psychology. But it is not clear that his analysis (or other analyses) of the phenomenology of different experiences remains something clearly distinct from psychology.

But in large part the problem remains, especially in such areas of philosophy of mind, of keeping philosophical work free of psychology altogether. Moreover, we should not assume that in all cases these must be kept separate, as some work in philosophy surely requires consideration of the psychological sciences.

Even today the student will likely be surprised by the number of psychological insights that Spinoza offers in this great work, Ethics, back in the 17th century and similar psychological observations by Friedrich Nietzsche in the 19th century. William James, the great American pragmatist, includes much psychology in his philosophy. He has much to say about the stream of consciousness and special experiences, such as religious experiences.

Current Concerns:

Philosophy of mind: There is a sense in which the mind is a psychological construct; there’s another sense in which it is not. “My mind is such and such” can be restated as “my thinking is such and such.” Sometimes it is the psychology behind my thinking that is the issue; but other times we’re interested in what could be called the conceptual-propositional issues; and still other times we might be more interested in the literary-artistic expression of ideas, values, and perspectives. (In this latter connection, see Walter Kaufmann’s book, Discovering The Mind.)

In Epistemology we’re concerned with the concept of knowledge; but our primary interest is not one of describing the psychology of knowing. Our interest is not in the process by which we come to know something, but in the clarification of concepts associated with knowledge and belief; and in the logic of propositions related to knowledge. Included among the philosophers who engage in the philosophy of knowledge are Bertrand Russell, D.W. Hamlyn, and Richard Rorty.

In the area of academic philosophy, besides the large field of epistemology, we have philosophy of mind, theory of consciousness, philosophy of language, Cartesian Idealism, and the free will issue. Ordinarily these are not seen as forms of psychological inquiry. They are more directed to conceptual and propositional issues. Included among the philosophers who engage in work on knowledge, language, and mind in this vein are Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gilbert Ryle, D.W. Hamlyn, John Austin, and Daniel Dennett

But psychology is very much a part of those philosophical studies of special experience, such as the religious experience, the mystical experience, and even moral experience. A good representative of this approach is the great American pragmatist, William James. Much of his work in philosophy does not stray too far from his psychological interests.

Some aspects of philosophy are concerned with the nature of human thought. This interest is distinct from psychological study, description and theory. But to be adequate and credible it needs to take into account the work of psychologists and the cognitive scientists. The subject of human thought is a big topic which can be approached from different directions. One of these is philosophy; another is psychology and the cognitive sciences. Still others are literary art, the fine arts, and history.

Suppose I ask about Spinoza’s thought with regard to moral obligation; how does he defend the thesis that morality and rationality are closely intertwined? As a student of philosophy, my interests could be strictly philosophical interests. I want to know how he develops and defends his philosophical thesis. On the other hand, I could be curious about the causes of Spinoza’s thinking; or maybe interested in possible motives that he might have had for adopting his particular philosophy. What events in his childhood or family life led him to embrace the values of rationality and the ideals of the geometric method? In this latter case, I would be proceeding as an amateur, folk psychologist.

There are different ways of trying to understand the thought of a person, e.g. a writer or a philosopher. We take one way when we ask about the causes and motivations behind the person’s ideas; i.e., we ask about the psychological ‘workings.’ Another way is to do philosophical criticism and evaluation of the person’s ideas. But the two (psychology and philosophy) can be combined in a single study.

Philosophy and the psychological well-being of the individual:

Another way of considering the interaction of psychology and philosophy is at the personal level. Do a person’s meditation on philosophical questions bring about (or bring closer) some degree of psychic harmony? To the extent that philosophical work and thought contribute to a person’s sense of well-being and fulfillment, one could argue that philosophy is a form of therapy. Is there a sense in which philosophy can be therapeutic?

If the unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates), then it may follow that the examined life (the “philosophical life”) is worth living. This could be seen as suggesting that philosophical thought results in a form of personal fulfillment and good psychological health.

Contrary to this we have the view (mostly the prevailing view) that philosophy is an intellectual discipline which has little or nothing to do with anyone’s striving to achieve some form of personal, psychic fulfillment. Add to this the fact that most people who work in philosophy (e.g. academic philosophers or professors of philosophy) are not especially noteworthy for lives of psychic well-being. In this regard, think of people like Blaise Pascal, S. Kierkegaard, F. Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein. How psychologically healthy and well balanced were they? They were emotionally and mentally tormented, and won’t be mentioned much as models of psychic calm and well-being. Moreover, some philosophers are driven to engage in philosophy, much like artists, poets, and composers are driven to do their creative work. Here we have a form of psychological compulsion that does not seem to be a form of therapy. In fact, some people even refer to philosophy as a type of disease.

Closing Thoughts:

The student of philosophy usually is not a psychologist, but nothing says that the student cannot proceed as a psychologist of sorts. I imagine situations in we attempt to get clear about our thoughts and values; and attempt to be honest about our motivations for all that we do. People used to say back in the 1960s era: I’m just trying to get my “head straight.”

Suppose that a psychologist can tell me about the causes, the mental processes, and hidden motives that underlie my thinking and behavior. He might say that in order to truly understand what I am about I must have some understanding of these “psychological” things; i.e., I must acknowledge and expose them. If I were to accept his advice and try to do those things, would I be acting in accordance with the Socratic maxim to “know thyself”?

The professional is concerned with empirical, descriptive psychology and with research into neurological and psychological processes. But we, the amateurs, are primarily indulging a form of folk psychology: Trying to say what I think about my own thinking. Or trying to deal better with my psychic life. Sometimes I apply this ‘folk psychology’ to myself (I try to figure out what I’m about) or to others (I try to understand their motives for saying such and such or doing so and so.)

On a more practical level, we can imagine someone asking: “What do I really want in life? How do I get there?” Can philosophy help us here? Maybe not, but then again think of two of our great figures in Western Philosophy, Socrates and Spinoza. They are often cited as models of psychological harmony and wisdom. Ultimately, aren’t we all psychologists to some degree, even those of us who flounder about in philosophy? Yes, we are to some degree ‘psychologists’ insofar as we are awake, alert, conscientious, and honestly engage in self-examination. This does not need to be kept separate from our work in philosophy.

Dr. Juan Bernal PhD is a retired mainframe programmer with degrees in philosophy and Spanish literature.

Juan is the a managing blogger & author at which covers various topics from western philosophy, religion, and history. is a place were people can interact, debate, and contribute to the topics that interest them pertaining to philosophy.