Intro — Philosophical Musings

[Note: You can read the posts by clicking “Philosophical Musings” in the drop-down menu of “Other Writing” or the sub-menu “Musings.” The posts are not organized by date or subject matter; some posts will seem like notes while others read more like essays.]


As a term, “philosophy” is almost impossible to define precisely. It’s been called “the pursuit of wisdom,” a definition that casts a very broad net. It’s also been defined more narrowly as a function of reason, as “a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means.”

But what about science, which deals only with “observational means”? Or is the philosophy of science different from the practice of science? And what about ethics? Is ethics a category of philosophy? Or does it belong to religion? Or both? A similar question applies to what we call “consciousness.” Is the study of consciousness a field of philosophy, religion or science? Or all three?

Such questions have intrigued me since I was a child. At university I took philosophy classes in addition to my studies in psychology and pre-medicine. I also took classes in religious studies. All these subjects seemed to melt into one another at the fringes. They were not so separate as a university class catalog implies.

Over the years, I have kept a journal of what I call philosophical musings. These notes and short essays are intended to track and clarify my thinking. The subjects range from consciousness to ethics, from science to mysticism. Also: modern physics, chaos theory, mathematics and logic, evolution, free will (or not), value systems, biology versus culture, conflict between cultures, and economics. I read voraciously about these subjects, think about them, and sometimes write about them.

Always, these musings are temporary statements of what I am thinking at the time. My thinking on a subject is apt to be contradicted by my thinking a week or month later. So it goes. So philosophy goes.

So keep that in mind when reading the various musings that follow. Each is a temporary statement meant to be transcended in time by another, hopefully more accurate, statement. This quality of impermanence seems to be inherent not only in thinking but in the world itself. And that, too, is a philosophical statement. As such, it could be wrong. But maybe not.

I will be adding to the Philosophical Musings posts in the coming months as I sort through my writings and journal (no small job). So for now, just these few posts to get started…