The UM Philosophy Society Blog

Monday, September 20, 2004

Conventional Wisdom

Losing my car is quite possibly one of the better things that happened to me this semester. It is a killer story, makes room for a lot of laughter on a lot of different levels and it kicked my sleeping schedule and sleeping attitude back in order. It also made me realize just how nice the UM Bookstore manager is. He gave me the money I had to pay for the books I lost back.
I also got a bike out of the deal which, however crappy, is unbeatable in the "Where did you get that?" department. Beides, someone out there is enjoying quite the joyride. If not that, I mean, if someone was low enough to have stolen my car, shit, I am glad I could help.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

What is this shit? --humor

OK, I think I have had it with the student life. I have no time to eat, to sleep, to invest in somebody, or to drink. If I sleep, I have to skip breakfast, if I eat, I have to skip class. If I skip work, ooh, that would free up time, I would be homeless, out of school and starving in no time. But working does get in the way of eating. Forget cooking, even running to the Market or the bloody Foodcourt is a luxury I can't afford sometimes. The candy on the Bookstore's receptionist desk where I work will just have to do for now.
And then I wonder, What's with the other job I have? I go to meetings to complain about other meetings that consisted of whining about the meetings to come. Nothing ever gets done, people get pissed--lives are lost. I feel horrible.
This just isn't for me.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A Tribute to Justin--(self-advice, written to self, never meant for public view)

Does it have to have a name?
Related thought: Being articulate

One takes on the mode of being of what he does
(occurred when dusting—repeated)

There is no reality except in action (be action-oriented)

Talking a specific person’s language (mine, yours, Tom’s)

Asking the right questions

Getting over things through dialectic

Warrenizing it

Everyone is allowed ONCE

There is truth to be touched at every corner of existence.

Exceptional people do exceptional things.

Learning one thing at expense of another

Be whoever you are “with a vengeance.”

Do Everything you can to better yourself

Obstacles are those little horrifying things you see once you lose sight of your goal

It’s only when you’ve lost everything, that you are free to do anything

Never neglect music

Thursday, September 02, 2004

A project to contemplate

As one of my ex-girlfriends loves to say, "philosophers don't really do anything" implying that we just sit around reading and writing obscure papers based on other philosohers' obscure papers and books.

Of course in many respects philosophers need to be cut off from society in order to do their work - getting away from the constant stimuli/imagery of the everyday life to cultivate the focus and concentration needed for understanding of complex concepts. It is the same with many professions, from artists to scientists.

But the outcome of this time is perhaps more easily questioned by non-philosophers. Our society conveys almost religious status upon scientists as conveyors of wisdom and artists, well, artists at least make 'stuff' for the public to view and think about.

I would like to propose that philosophers, specifically those of the UM Philosophy Society, create something for the public to view and think about. The only criteria being that it leads viewers to a greater appreciation of philosophy. Perhaps a collaborative effort with artists, specifically the media artists would be a start.


ap·pre·ci·ate: To recognize the quality, significance, or magnitude of. To be fully aware of or sensitive to; realize.

phi·los·o·phy: Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline. The critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs.

Something like the above on a poster may draw attention... but the product is most important! Anyhow, something to contemplate..

Justin Whitaker

Monday, August 30, 2004


If you are in love, you will find a way to see her.
The same is true of wisdom--for true philosophers.
This is to be read in light of my struggle to pursue philosophy.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I quit drinking. At least until I regain control over my use.


Friday, August 27, 2004

I Get It Too... Sort of.

A bit on how my understanding of philosophy and life has developed, especially since emerging from philosophical studies - by Justin Whitaker

It has amazed me a bit that now that I'm done (sort of) with my Philosophy degree, things seem to be making more sense on a global level. I also have a feeling that I will need to come back to Philosophy (I'm taking a 10 month hiatus for an MA in Buddhist Studies and maybe on to a Ph.D. to follow that) if this new sense is to be made into anything concrete in the world of Philosophy.

It reminds me of the scene in the movie Pi where Max visits his older friend, telling him that he's on the brink of something. His friend sees his manic gestures and tells him to relax - He told him the story of Archimedes, the great Greek mathematician. In the story Archimedes is asked by King Hiero II to determine whether a crown he has is real gold. Archimedes trys everything he can think of, for hours, days he examines the crown and assorted metals - he simply cannot find a definitive difference. Finally, his wife sees him and orders him to relax and draws him a bath. As Archimedes sank into the water he noticed that his body caused displacement, sending the water over the edges. This was the insight Archimedes needed to see that the crown should not only weigh its worth in gold but also displace the same volume as equal weight of gold would. He was so exited he ran through the streets naked the King's palace naked screaming "Eureka" which means "I've found it." He needed perspective!

So, too, we philosophers need perspective. After being face to face with this theory and that, this great philosopher and that one - stepping back we see the connections. Too often we choose one theory, one philosopher and say, "ahh.. this is correct, the others are all wrong." Then we can stare, cheek to cheek with other admirers, and revel in the greatness of some thought. But to those with perspective we are nit-wits, as idiotic as the next group of narrow-visioned zealots.

Of course it doesn't help to simply say, "I have perspective" as a way to avoid looking closely, either! A murky understanding of it all is no better than a great understanding of but a little. Like the Gestalt image of two faces/a vase (or goblet). .

We must see each image (within/close up), and see the Truth of the whole image. Perhaps a piece on the Zen Koan is in order... another day. - Justin