For You

the most concise work of applied philosophy ever known

What this is

This is a short booklet that introduces philosophy to readers in a practical way.  It is not the same as a critical thinking textbook, nor is it a ‘corporate philosophy’ lesson.  Each of the 5 major branches of philosophy are covered in one chapter.

The reader is not expected to know much about the subject.

What it has to do with being young or self centred

Personally, I started studying philosophy for a while when I was young, but adult.  I was always reading the philosophers to see what, if anything, they had to say might be of personal relevance or of personal use.

OK, I admit that Time and Cosmos are part of philosophy, but not all philosophy is the same and a lot of it involves the issues of ‘what is the best way to live’.  I won’t go into it much further; I just wanted to point out that I wrote this booklet assuming that you might be just as interested in philosophy you can put to use for yourself as I was.

Again, this one is not a critical thinking textbook, but there are some tips about logic in this book, which is also what at least 50% of critical thinking is rooted in.

Buy this now.

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Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them

the most concise work of applied philosophy ever known

 

Does it matter?

Perhaps you are having one of those days when you are actually asking yourself questions such as:  Does my life matter?  or just What does it all mean?  If so, there are a few simple approaches to handling this.  One, if possible you should get a hug from someone who cares about you.  Two, you should either read a bit of philosophy or go to a church service, or three: all of the above.

This is one of the questions directly addressed in the booklet shown in the image with this post.  Not only that, but it’s only $13.50 and can be delivered right to your door.  Here’s a link: Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them

How do we know what’s true anymore?

Let’s just say that the headline describes your subjective mental state.  It could be because you aren’t sure whether or not your spouse is cheating on you.  It might be caused by having found a crook at the company you work for, or because you recently suffered from an online scam.

Whatever the reason, this is a fairly serious question.  Let’s rephrase it just slightly: how does any of us know what’s true in the first place?  Often we trust authority and experts: this is normally the case whether we mean a religious cleric or a school instructor who claims to have received trusted information from scientific researchers.  In both cases, whether from The Bible or History of the Universe we are faced with serious efforts to get at truth and knowledge.

Philosophy also seeks truth and knowledge.  If you are an avid and vigorous reader or lengthy works you can start with the link at the beginning of this paragraph, but if you just want the short answer, you can click on the link for the booklet above.

Either the human mind contains the power to perceive the truth or does not.  If so, then either we can get to it from: God, and or from thought and or from sense experience.  If we can get to it in any of those ways, we still have to look into methods.  There are spiritual methods, and there are also philosophical and scientific methods for getting at the truth.  In Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them, I help readers see how these basic principles work and how they show up in daily life.

Sadly, I am not in a position to call your boyfriend or girlfriend for you and explain what happened…nor am I in a great position to call you right now and talk you through your present problem.

If it is mainly emotional unrest, please take a few deep breaths and maybe go for a walk.  I do also recommend getting a hug if you can get one from someone you trust at this time.  If it still seems important after you’ve calmed down, buy the booklet and delve into this more deeply.

Buy Now: Five Big Questions in Life

Ken Wilber & His Philosophy

2000 words

Ken Wilber & His Philosophy

by Miriam Pia

Ken Wilber is one of the dominant and ‘game changing’ American philosophers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His work broke with the status quo of academic philosophies of both the West and the East. Because of that, his work, although famous outside of most Western philosophy based universities has not become popular or frequently taught within them. The one place he is best known for having taught is in fact the first established Buddhist based university in the United States of America, the Naropa Institute in Colorado. As it happens Boulder, Colorado with the Rocky Mountains does mimic some of the basic underlying type of geography as the Tibetan culture and philosophy which came into being in the snowy Himalayan Mountains.

What makes Ken Wilber’s Philosophy so different?

Epistemology is the area of philosophy devoted to figuring out and clarifying what knowledge is, since only by knowing what knowledge is can we – as individuals and as the human race, know what to be sure of as being truth and what remains ignorance of one kind or another.

There are clear traditions of ideas and beliefs about what the truth is and how to determine it in both Western and Eastern philosophical traditions. The main radical measure that Ken Wilber takes in his ‘integral philosophy’ is that he reviews the Western tradition and makes a new organized schema. For many in the Western tradition, to borrow from the philosophy of science of the 1980s, Wilber’s Integral Philosophical system creates a new paradigm. He does this by showing how much of what was argued over in terms of their relation to truth in terms of priority and hierarchy in the preceding 300 years of philosophical tradition can be couched into new language and put together into a new schema without denying any of them.

The main schools of thought in the Western tradition about truth and knowledge are:

Idealism: Plato and Kant, and later Hegel and other German idealists. These posit that truth can be learned through mental operations and that abstract thinking can lead to real world results because of 2 factors: 1 is that much of truth and the ability to perceive it is built right into the human mind, and that 2 logic and mathematics and proper philosophical inquiry, and later also scientific research methods also yield real and legitimate results.

Plato argued that the truth of things is right in the perception of them within a realm seen as the human mind or perceivable by the mind. The main example is what has come to be known as ‘the principle of the thing’, where Plato taught that the principle of any object was real as an idea or ideal and that if anything, things took shape from the reality of the realm of ideas more than the other way around.

Kant explained that some of what is true shows up right in the mind – these are a priori ideas, which are true of the human mind and indicate what is true about the world. Kant read Plato and Aristotle and knew at least some Christianity, and possibly knew post-Judaic Christianity (after the Council of Nicea people could become Christian without having to convert to Judaism) very well.

From then up to the present there have been schools of thought which developed out of believing that idealism is true, believing in idealism in a limited way, and running counter to idealism. In the ancient world, Plato came right before Aristotle but unlike Plato Aristotle was not an idealist. He thought Plato’s theory of forms was wrong and went around cataloging species of life forms for Emperor Alexander. Aristotle is considered a proto empirical scientist of the Western world. Aristotle believed very strongly in the world as being real and as existing without dependency upon any human mind for its existence, but did view human perception as having some kind of reality.

The development of the empirical sciences and scientific method during the previous 3 centuries, although there were scientific and technological breakthroughs going back thousands of years before the advent of modern science: in Western cultures was directly related to accepting Kant’s idea that part of what is real and some of the truth that can be perceived has to do with the human mind and the ability to think and the rest of it has to do with the outside world. Hence, by relating to the world of sensory experience the right way, and by thinking the right way, humans have a good chance of learning the truth. Theories are the closest to the truth that can be reached given careful examination of the evidence found in the world with lots of help from excellent thinking with a human mind.

Ken Wilber notes early on in the description of his own philosophy the matter of how much the empirical sciences seem to award truth value to the outside world but none to the subjective experience of people. Not only that, claims Ken Wilber, but scientific theories also seem to dismiss society in determining what is true or not. One Continental Philosopher of the 20th century who emphasized the effect of society and in society was Michele Foucault, who’s writings were mainly interdisciplinary. The French tendency to post modernism which Wilber is also aware of, developed with existentialism as a mostly idealist, atheist philosophical movement of the 20th century.

Integral Theory & Truth Quadrants

In Ken Wilber’s integral theory, KW recognizes 4 types of truth which he posits exist for every individual. One, if the subjective realm. This does contain Plato’s world of forms and Kant’s a priori concepts, but also contains everything from logic to dreams and emotions, hopes and fears of individuals. Personal truths about the self and one’s point of view and so on, can all exist in this realm.

Another quadrant of truth, according to integral theory, is the truth about the world, more familial to people as involving a world of sense objects and social relations that exist regardless of human perception but that humans may be able to perceive the truth about.

Wilber’s integral philosophy contains two quadrants which are simultaneously private but also external and existing in a shared realm with other people and other creatures. One of the two is the external world from the perspective of an individual and the other is more the mass scale social scene.

Steps & Stages: Spirituality & Buddhist influences

In actual practice, one of the main differences between Ken Wilber and most of the traditional Western philosophers is that KW learned to meditate within the blended context of Buddhism in Colorado and the more general cultural context of the Rocky Mountains, Christianity – mostly Protestantism, Hippies and Chogyam Chungpa/ Trungpa – who was the first major Buddhist lama (and really a ‘bad boy’ as lamas go) who trekked to North America and introduced Dharma and founded the Naropa Institute when KW was a young boy in the region.

Because KW did bother to learn to meditate, and turned out to be very good at it, he included in his philosophy 4 major states or types of consciousness which in Western philosophical tradition go predominantly unmentioned. Here and there someone refers to imagination and dream states in Western philosophy but normally not in a well organized manner.

How it proceeds

The bulk of Ken Wilber’s philosophical writings explain how he sees his theory functioning within individuals and societal groups. It includes a history and philosophy of human development that goes from the rudimentary and biological up to the spiritual. Through the descriptions, he teaches readers and followers how to get some idea of which levels they are operating on as individuals and then, by knowing where they are, shows them how they might reach subsequent levels. In that respect KW’s philosophical works are infused with inspiration and hope as they are designed to enable readers and followers to really do something in their own lives with the philosophy rather than it being one of the types of philosophical treatises that is full of explanation and description but for readers has no direct, practical value beyond maybe being able to understand why research exists and what it is like when it makes sense.

How it fits in

Beyond what has already been explained, Ken Wilber’s thought has been enigmatic and profound in that it is not a simple rehash of what has been done in the past and yet it really does break with tradition without just destroying tradition.

As an individual, Ken Wilber is someone who was able to become well known and well liked and to fit in in those senses but he has always stood out from the crowd in part due to being exceptionally tall and thin but also due to being a brilliant man who boldly did something like study Plato but also learn to meditate and not run away nor hide from what he learned by doing so.

By reputation, Ken Wilber has become a well known American philosopher despite being regularly ignored by academic philosophy and philosophers because he is 1) an odd ball, and 2) they weren’t responsible for his success and don’t know him and may feel put out that he is a great philosopher out of nowhere rather than after having carefully ensconced in academic philosophy for at least a decade and showing up as a little bit important by contributing the American analytical philosophical tradition with a new treatise on computer logic and the implications for hospital ethics in the 21st century or something ‘normal’ and ‘expected’ like that. Instead, integral theory has grown into a diverse set of organizations that surround sales of Ken Wilber books and workshops. The philosophy has been picked up and partially learned and bandied about as much by corporate coaches as by academic philosophers.

Personally, I think it is not worth denying that despite the ill fit with the majority trends in the American analytic philosophical tradition early in the 21st century, Ken Wilber really is one the best American philosophers certainly of his generation and quite possibly for the century for the Americans.

In truth, to give perspective another way, he is more the spiritual and philosophical son or descendant of the Englishman Alan Watts who was a British philosopher who was one of the first of the 20th century Western thinkers to attempt to engage with Asiatic and Buddhist philosophy. Their 19th century predecessor was actually Friedrich Nietzsche and Louise Andreas-Salome (maybe J. Ree) who tried to go beyond the limits of what they had learned from the ancient Greeks and their philosophical forebears in a decidedly Christian European and North American world.

In that respect, it is proper to understand these thinkers as trying to be more worldly, and cutting edge and inclusive in the scope of their philosophical endeavors, thoughts and trying to write for what Thomas S. Kuhn (philosophy of science 1980s) called a new paradigm.

Conclusions

Ken Wilber’s philosophy is far from useless but really is best understood in the context of trying to bridge Western and Eastern thought, but also trying to push forward with Western consciousness, and draw new conclusions about the debate about which takes philosophical precedence about truth: self, world, a priori ideas or logic?

In general, idealism faded during the 20th century but did not entirely disappear. American and British philosophy became more analytic and atheistic. Continental philosophy became more atheistic but also more interdisciplinary and some forms of idealism persisted but were changed as their context switched from empirical sciences and math over to areas such as music, art criticism and so on. The women’s movements as part of the continuing saga of human civil rights was also involved and showed up because French women existentialists on the Continent and radicals – like Ayn Rand, who was as free standing in her philosophical efforts as Ken Wilber but being a woman, and a conservative, unlike Ken Wilber she was able to do it in part thanks to the funding from her husband while living as a wife.

It may take some decades before universities figure out the best way to place the work of Ken Wilber in relation to the canon for the philosophy curriculum, but already, Ken Wilber has made himself into a prominent American philosopher. Not everyone will agree with him and that one point makes Ken Wilber just like every other great philosopher who has ever walked the Earth.

Five Big Questions in Life – book review

REVIEW

The 5 Big Questions In Life

Publication date:

ISBN: 978-1-61720-864-5

Many have the questions; but very few have the answers. Among the few; Miriam Pia stands out with her book: The 5 Big Questions In Life. This is your opportunity to learn Philosophy which she has defined as ‘the love of wisdom.’ Simplified, but still with a professional touch.

In this exciting philosophy, Miriam also brings in the old timers; Socrates and his student Plato. The highlight is; Plato was rich and Socrates was poor.That is the point Miriam is highlighting as being evidence that Philosophy is free to practice and is useful to people who have money as well as those who don’t. Of course she studied Philosophy the Plato way – she paid for it – up to Masters Level with Middlesex University. But she is encouraging you to digest this book should you not be in a position to afford tertiary education.

Most importantly, the book takes you from the history of Western philosophy, Eastern philosophy and the founding Greek philosophy to the present day phenomenon.

The book is not only asking what the world is really like. How do we know what we know, whether God exists, the best way to live, what defines the Good and Evil; it is also about answering those questions. Justa glimpse on the best way to live; Miriam shares that sexual love, romance, a sense of the morality surrounding those involved and any children who show up is also a very major and important part of people practicing their best way to live.People need to be safe: traditional forms of family; represented by marriage, is one of the best ways for people to be safe to have sex.Like it or not, this is a truth. All in The Big5 Questions in Life.

Blessings S. Makanani

Freelance Writer.

What is the best way to live? 2013

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them.

This is another of the most famous and important philosophical questions that exists. In fact, some of the different philosophers can be organized according to which of the Big 5 Questions they answer and deal with.

This one involves some of the most intense personal practice that anyone can do. For hands on people who like to take action, dealing with this question is very fulfilling. One looks around and sees that there is more than one way to live. People live differently for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons involve matters we have control over and other factors are beyond our control.

The best way to live is normally influenced by what natural and social forces seem to govern. Our gender, our age and our cultural identity all influence how we view the world, what our needs and expectations are and how we operate. Within the limitations placed upon us by those factors most of us find that we still have room to maneuver – there is some element of choice somewhere in our life.

Both religion and politics are involved here. Some people are born in nations where they have the free choice to move to many other countries of the world. Others are not. For those that do have that freedom, then they may choose to live in part by which type of politics they prefer. They may select a place where they feel they have the best economic chances. They may choose their preferred climate.

To read the rest, get yours now. Currently on sale at: http://www.amazon.com/Five-Big-Questions-Life-answer/dp/1617208647/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353177143&sr=1-9&keywords=five+big+questions+in+life

Books for readers – nonfiction, fiction, how to make your purchase

<p>As the weather begins the transformation to Autumn, here are the links to the main locations to find my published works and tidbits. </p><p>http://uranianfiction.com/  This is a general location.  For some reason I have believed that it makes sense to unify all of my fiction, regardless of the genre by calling it Uranian Fiction.  Some people would rather just know it by my name and I can see why.  It isn’t wrong if you do that, but just as you are not your car, myself and my literary work are not exactly the same thing. </p><p>There is some nonfiction stuck with the fiction right now, mainly for reasons akin to lack of space to separate them.</p><p>http://sbpra.com/MiriamPia/  This is thee location to purchase a hard bound copy of The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead.  How is a corporate manager also a criminal mastermind? Why is he being hunted down by two occultists?!  Pre-order yours today.</p><p>http://www.amazon.com/Five-Big-Questions-Life-answer/dp/1617208647/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1379006004&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=Five+Big+Questions+in+Life  Well, this isn’t even fiction.  For a very practical explanation of philosophy and how you can use it right now in your real life – try out this little booklet.  Delightfully softbound you can roll it up – designed to be readable while doing your laundry, waiting for a train after work, or as a coffee table book for your gifted teen.</p><p> </p>

German Idealism and on old wagon as a collector’s item.

Here in the neighborhood, around two street corners actually, someone looks to have bought or been given an old wagon.  It is a really nice 19th century looking type of wagon – made to use with a horse or two.  Tall wooden wheels with metal rims and everything – at one time this may have been the latest upgraded model going.  The owner has another collector’s item old car from the 20th century.  Whoever lives there drives a late 20th century model or early 21st century car. 

Here’s the thing.  Two of my favorite German philosophers lived and wrote what I learned when the train and that wagon with the great wooden wheels built to be pulled by a horse or two were the latest high tech forms of transport going.  Anybody got an oil lamp?  It’s German Idealism. 

Take a peak and what I still have hanging around from graduate school.  If something along the same lines with more of a pop culture feel appeals to you, please buy http://www.amazon.com/Five-Big-Questions-Life-answer/dp/1617208647/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362508185&sr=1-1&keywords=Five+Big+Questions+in+Life  Which is a clever little book with one compact chapter covering each of the five main branches of philosophy without technical jargon.