Monday, June 9, 2008


My experience in the blog realm thus far have been quite interesting. The way I think has changed a bit since I began blogging.

In the past I filled my mind with conversations with straw men. These were images in my mind of people with whom I would like to converse, but did not have the convenience of their actual presence to permit me to pontificate. They were straw men, or perhaps more properly straw people.

Since they lived in my mind, they always responded well to my thoughts and ideas. They asked the right questions, and never interrupted. They always recognized the genius of my thinking. As a result some of my thoughts became well developed, and I had a good idea of what I thought on various subjects.

So, having inner dialogues has been a rather normal thing for me.

Now there exists a medium into which I can inject these thoughts, and there exists the possibility that someone else will read them and respond. Actual people, rather than the virtual straw creations living in my head.

You see, the weak point of living in your own head is the lack of ideas and opinions from others to shape your own ideas and opinions. It is a hothouse of ingrown concepts. Concepts that may have validity, but are undeveloped and stunted due to lack of outside influence.

What have I learned in the blogosphere? Well, one can continue this inner dialogue as a monologue, but the influence of others can still be lacking. Why? Because it is still just pontificating, it is still just rambling.

Oh, there is the benefit of having to write down the ideas. That does help. They have to be written with some kind of structure, as if someone else must read them and understand what is said. However, it is still just ideas going forth.

Having enough ego that I want my ideas to go forth, I write and post them. Now, I face the problem of how to get others to read them.

Here is where things get interesting. In order to get read in the blogosphere, you have to read. You have to read, and comment. You have to interact with people!

In the ancient days of straw people, I did not really have the venue for pontificating and receiving criticism of my thoughts. In the blogosphere, however, there are real people! I can conveniently interact with multitudes!

That is what I am learning to do. I may still be rambling, but now there is a chance I might get somewhere.
Anybody want to buy a set of well-used straw people?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Truth and Integrity

I have generally held that truth and integrity are correlated terms. I have thus assessed the organizations and people with whom I have been associated by this perception of correlation. However, one of my coworkers said that he did not believe this correlation to be true. I found this to be interesting, since he is one of the people I work with who generally exemplifies the correlation of truth and integrity.

This presented a challenge to examine my thinking on the matter. A cursory examination of the reference to truth as noted above (follow the link) presents the complexity of the issue.

If I say that I will do something, and then do not do what I say, I damage my integrity. My word is less reliable, due to my own inconsistancy. It is not so much an issue of truth, as a matter of consistency and reliability. The reason I fail may be due to unforseen circumstances, rather than a deception. I prove unreliable, but not untruthful.

If I claim to be one thing, but in reality I am something else, I damage my integrity and violate truth. A person, a people, or an institution which is not consistent with truth and integrity cannot be relied upon. They exist as a deception, an intentional departure from truth and integrity.

Perhaps it was this distinction that my coworker recognized. There are times when the best of us use deception for a higher purpose. The lie is perceived to be the higher moral choice. Thus, though truth is violated, integrity is maintained.

Integrity is strained, however, when the justification for deviating from the truth is weak and self-serving. Integrity can be eroded to a meaningless term if it does not maintain a strong relationship with truth.

Truth and integrity are correlated terms, but not equivalent terms. Like many such words they work together to describe the relationship between ourselves and each other. They help to describe the relationship of ourselves and the world in which we live.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Philosophy of-

Many years ago I discovered a group on the early Internet called the History of the Philosophy of Science (HOPOS) news group. I was just exploring some news groups in the wee hours of the night as I tried to stay awake at work. I made contact with some very interesting people on that site. I still don't know how I was able to join that group. I probably just got missed and somehow authorized.

There was a lot of traffic between these high-level academician. Not a lot of argument or discussion, but much communication. I even participated a few times, though this was a far different world than the one in which I lived.

I had not realized such a field existed. I knew about science and scientists. I knew about history and historians. I knew a bit about philosophy and philosophers. This, however, had some very interesting implications. There was a separate field of philosophy that related to science. In addition to that, there were historians who studied the history of the philosophy of science.

I found this fascinating. A field of scholarship defined in such a way. I wondered what other fields had defined philosophies, and histories of those philosophies. How did they originate? How did they develop?

Since that time I have discovered interesting little niches in academia. The University of California at Santa Cruz has a clutch of scholars dedicated to Charles Dickens. These scholars coordinate with similar enclaves in other universities around the world. All of this energy focused on a popular writer from another century and another land.

Science as a field grew over time. The philosophy upon which modern science is based also developed over time, and helped shape the future growth of science. It makes sense that the development of this philosophy should have a formal history. Knowledge of that history would inform and shape both the development of science and the future of the philosophy of science.

Any other field of human endeavor could be similarly defined by a history, a philosophy, and a history of that philosophy. It is unlikely that most fields would be formally defined and studied in this manner, yet it is interesting to see that at least informally most fields develop in this way.

There would probably not be a very large amount of money available for scholars working on the history of the philosophy of tatting, but it seems a sure bet that both the history and philosophy exist informally in the minds of those who tat.

It almost seems worth writing the grant application, doesn't it?

Monday, June 2, 2008

How I am doing this-

I find that I wish to express myself sometimes where I cannot post to any of my accounts. A dilemma for a mind that is ramping up to Internet speed. So, I create my little essays in files on my thumb drive using whatever computer is available. It is a dream world for a lifelong thinker.

If that is not enough, I can make mobile notes on my phone. Imagine that! I can record voice messages to myself, and even email them to me! If you are young enough not to see how wonderful this is, try to imagine what it must have been like when the idea of electric light was just getting started.

"Martha! Would you look at that! Just turn a switch, and you have light! No dipping tallow to make candles. No more kerosene. Just turn a switch!"

"Oh, Tom. How you go on. This will never catch on! I've had enough of the fair. Let's hitch up the buggy and go home."

So, I am collecting essays, keeping them short. I post them as I can, but not too quickly. Time to think, and savor the experience.

Time to hitch up the buggy and go home!

Truth and truth

I recall in my youth feeling a compulsion to learn the Truth. Being young, I saw truth as an entity, a self-existent thing which defined and gave order to the world I faced as a child. The Truth (with a capital T) existed outside of the world. It was incorruptible, and always true.

Lacking a religious upbringing, my Truth occupied the place of God. I was just a child, and unable to think through what my compulsion caused me to believe. What I find fascinating at this later point in my life is how perceptive I was. The equation of God with Truth may be found in Judeo-Christian literature.

Later in life (though still in my youth) I comprehended the limits of my ability to accumulate knowledge. I was on a quest to find Truth, yet knowledge alone could not be the path. I had not the resources within myself to accumulate enough knowledge to verify the Truth. I little realize how quixotic this quest actually was.

Most probably I was compelled to this quest by my childhood insecurities, a strong intellect, and an appetite for knowledge. I longed for a world that was clearly defined, safe, and secure. However, I was perceptive enough to see beyond the security and safety of my family. I recognized that the world was large, confusing, and quite unsafe.

It was my good fortune to have a solid family in which to wrestle with these insecurities. There was moral consistency in my early experience, a model that developed into a strong sense of the value of integrity. Unfortunately, I seem to have been born with a romantic and idealistic nature. I expected the real world to reflect my internal concepts of Truth and integrity.

As I became an adult, I sought reasons to hold onto my childish longing for Truth. No longer able to rely simply on the acquisition of knowledge, I entered into a spiritual quest. I thought to examine and practice the many religions of the world. How, I was not sure. Yet I intended to try.

Reality intervened. In those days there was a protracted war, and to feed the need for bodies the government could then draft soldiers. Since quixotic spiritual quests are notoriously bad careers, and I faced the probability of being drafted, I joined the Army. Not your usual path for a pilgrim, but one that seemed right.

I selected Hinduism as my first sample. I read the Bhagavad Gita (ref.) and began practicing Yoga. I recognized the difficulty of creating my own path to the knowledge that I was seeking, and was often frustrated by the lack of guidance. I was quite unsure of my way, but was compelled to try.

During this time I was exposed to a Christian. Lawrence Lee Clark lived his Christian beliefs as no other person I had met. He was challenging and compelling. I began examining the Christian faith, as it was one of the systems of belief I had purposed to examine. Unlike my self-styled Hinduism, here I had a guide.

I was eventually converted to the faith, accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. I accepted the Christian God as the One True God. I continued my studies in that belief.

The Christian faith does not have only one presence on earth. Though the faith is in One God, the expression of that faith is quite varied. I adopted the belief that God would guide my quest, recognizing that exhausting all of the knowledge of the various expressions of Christian faith would exhaust me. Better to trust God to guide me.

At this present point in my learning, I would contend that Truth is the Divine perspective. It is how God sees creation and the things within that creation. A thing is true to the degree that it agrees with the Divine perspective. This sounds quite simple. I don’t think it really is.

How does one get the Divine perspective? In the Christian system of belief the source of the Divine perspective is the Bible. However, the Bible is not exhaustive. It does not contain all knowledge. It is the revelation of God, but it is limited. It is what God has elected to reveal of Himself. It is true, but not all truth.

Our perception is limited, and so our knowledge of truth will necessarily be limited. Yet truth can be known, at least in part. A dilemma, and not the only one in contemplating the relationship of man and God. As in all areas where our limitations as finite beings come into play in such things, I believe we depend on the grace of God to carry us through.

How, then, does this reflect on truth and integrity in our daily lives? My testimony here simply reflects the value I place on truth. I do not perceive it to be malleable, a thing to be bent and stretched to suit my purposes. I have integrity when I am consistent with the things I believe to be true. My integrity is diminished when I deviate from my own truth.

Note I say “my own truth.” Not the Truth. My truth necessarily deviates from Truth, due to my finite limitations and my own moral inconsistency. This lack on my part, this inability to bring my truth into line with Truth, is the gap overcome by grace. God is adequate where I am not.

I am content with that.

Philosophy on purpose-

I have been blogging for less than a year. I am really just getting started. However, I have kept a written journal for over thirty years before I started writing out here in cyberspace. It seems that I am expanding, seeking ways to get my thoughts "out there."

From my youth I have been a philosopher. A lover of knowledge, and a big fan of thinking. It has been such a habit that people have referred to me as a philosopher without my outwardly encouraging them to do so. It is my manner of speech, my modes of thought, and my perspective on life. I have been a philosopher on purpose.

The changing world has given me a most amazing outlet for expression. The Internet places my thoughts "out there" where everyone can view them. The only requirement is that I write them down and post them.

My first blog was a venue for my short stories. They languished in a drawer, and when I learned to blog I found a place for them to be shared. Then I began a blog on barbecue. I was just beginning in the art of serious barbecue, and I wanted to share my adventure step-by-step.

This, however, is bigger. I will be expressing opinions and playing with ideas. I will be doing this "out there" where others can read and react. This particular blog will be low-key, in that I won't promote it and play the "blog-game" of trying to get more hits than anyone else. These will be thought seeds scattered to see what grows.

I shall be posting many of these little essays on However, I know that MySpace is blocked in many places that Blogger still might be reached. So, I scatter the seeds a bit more widely.

In the days of my youth I sought a philosophy that encompassed everything. I have learned that systems of religion and philosophy are worth studying, but none seem to be the all-encompassing manual for living that my naive younger self sought. However, that does not stop a philosopher from thinking and studying and building a personal philosophy.

Indeed, the idea of building a philosophy on purpose is quite appealing. So, here I begin.