Living Philosophy: Remaining Awake and Moving toward Maturity in Complicated Times

Living Philosophy: Remaining Awake and Moving toward Maturity in Complicated Times

Living Philosophy: Remaining Awake and Moving toward Maturity in Complicated Times

Living Philosophy: Remaining Awake and Moving toward Maturity in Complicated Times


People today hunger for what is variously called self-help, continuing education, lifespan development, spirituality--something fundamental that is missing in life today. This book is a fresh and highly practical presentation of a traditional Western resource to satisfy that need: Philosophy--as a relational practice through which we are able to live the good life, guided by the Socratic vision of human development and maturity. Out of encounter with the vitalities of Eastern culture, the feminist revolution, and the environmental movement, as well as movements toward "dialogue" in both philosophy and culture, the original Socratic practice of philosophy becomes available again.Living Philosophy is personal and experiential. It arises out of dialogue with widely recognized philosophers of our era. It provides practical steps, methods, recommendations, and examples for living the good life. It is concrete and empirical, rich in variety and interest.Living Philosophy is readily accessible to the general reader, whoever that person might be by other descriptions. It is non-technical. More importantly, it is written specifically for the contemporary reader who is too busy, yet at the same time who honors reading as practice that can have profoundly positive results. There is a "workbook" character to this book, with such features as dialogue questions at the end of each chapter, a Core Bibliography, and specific suggestions about the keeping of a philosophical journal.This book can help us live well in a new millennium in which the Dalai Lama calls for "inner disarmament of anger and jealously," and "a century of dialogue." This book participates in a revival of philosophy that is occurring in our time, giving us access to what is profoundly great in the Western tradition.


Philosophy can help! It can help us remain awake in times when seductions to falling asleep are many. It can help us grow into the mature humanity our planet requires if life in any way we know it is to survive, if we are to survive.

Philosophy is a human activity that occurs only in the present. It leads to the distinctively human way of being and relating—but one that is largely forgotten in our world of technology, business, and entertainment. “Philosophy,” in the sense that most people think of it, as subject matter or academic discipline, is only “leftovers,” remains of people having done philosophy in the past.

What is this activity called philosophy? What are its benefits— what can it do for us, and why should we invest any time/energy in its pursuit? How do I know when it is occurring?

In this chapter I begin with a response to these foundational questions, as “close to the ground” as possible, with an attempt simply to describe philosophy when it happens—as an essential life discipline, a hygiene, and an experience that is curiously both more ordinary and more extraordinary than most people think.

But philosophy in the secondary sense, as a subject matter and a history, needs to be taken seriously also. It is not only the record of what others have thought and said, but also the statement of what we, in both broadly historical and more immediately personal senses, have said and learned; it is articulation of our basic commitments, of the causes we are willing to die for—as Socrates was willing to die for truth.

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