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Archive for July, 2011

Living the Examined Life

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates

Philosophy is often considered as having little to do with our everyday world. However, I have found that philosophy has much to tell me about living in the world. At an early age, I became intrigued with philosophy and began collecting books on Greek and Roman philosophy. Later around 1970, I remember going on a road trip with a friend, where we spent our long hours of driving reading the dialogues of Plato. Over the past 40 years I have continued my love of philosophy weaving and wending my way through the writings of many great thinkers. Along the way, I have been comforted to find fellow philosophy enthusiasts. People who do not hold academic positions in departments of philosophy, who do not write for philosophical journals nor attend meetings on philosophy. Yet, they have a deep love for the ideas of philosophy. Their lives are creatively affected by what they discover in these ideas.

Succinctly, philosophy brings depth to our lives.

Philosophy looks at the why, what and how of life. Of course, psychology also asks these questions. Indeed, I believe the particular emphasis on either why, what or how plays a critical role in defining a given psychotherapy. Psychotherapies focused on the why seem to be more grounded in interpretative techniques, while those focused on the what are interested in phenomena and are more likely humanistic, e.g. Gestalt therapy.

My interest in philosophy circles around how we know our world and experience being in the world. In the language of philosophy, I am attracted to the areas of epistemology and ontology. These two areas are rooted in essential questions we ask ourselves, questions like: how do I know or experience the world that surrounds me? How does perception or sensation effect my knowing? How is the world outside of me affected by my interior world? What defines my very being in the world? How does my being in this world depend on the world out there? What determines my experiences of the world? Difficult questions, but very important to living an examined life.

In the next few posts, I hope to take a few of my favorite philosophers and play with their ideas. I hope to show how these ideas are essential to psychotherapy. Finally, I will end with a post on how these philosophical ideas relate to Jungian psychology. I hope to make these posts fun for you. Philosophy need not be abstract or difficult. It can be grounded in everyday experiences.

So, get ready to drop into the world of Immanuel Kant, for he is the first person we will meet in our philosophical circumambulations.

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The Eternal Return

Hello,

Just a note to say that I will be returning to more regular posts after a few months hiatus. Coming up… how philosophy informs psychology…

Regards,

Jeff

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