*I should like to preface my remarks regarding “my philosophy” by stating that I never formally studied philosophy in college to the extent of earning a Bachelor’s degree in the subject. Moreover, I don’t have a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in anything.
That said, I’ve devoted the last 12 years to fervent philosophical contemplations and research and I am so blessed to have been mentored by and enjoy friendships with individuals far more thoroughly educated in the field than I am.
For example, my former Political Science Professor and boss, who is, I think, the most nuanced philosophical thinker I’ve ever met, and who I like to consider a mentor and friend, Dr. Leonard Winogora, has been so kind over the last half a decade to answer any and every political and philosophical question I’ve posed to him and as a result I have benefited tremendously in the development of my philosophical and political contemplations and principles.
I think it would be unfair of me to try and boil down Dr. Winogora’s philosophy too much as he’s developed depths of thought I’m still yet to learn however I consider several of his ideas to be remarkably pragmatic without compromising a firm sense of ethics or rationality. In the realm of ethics Dr. Winogora has taught me the concept of “generosity” as a decent and gentlemanly practice. By this I mean I know Dr. Winogora as someone who cares tremendously about the well-being of others, not in a self-sacrificial sense, or as a means of advancing an egoistically motivated agenda, but rather, as an expression of basic compassion for human life.
Additionally, he has taught me about the importance of a unique kind of open-mindedness. Unlike other professors whose courses I’ve taken and who I’ve pressed with a plethora of questions, Dr. Winogora has never been one to aggressively discourage thinking that might contradict his own. I’ve had professors try and pressure me to use only their words, adopt their aesthetics, delve into their biases, and cite their research on exams and essays. I’ve also had professors who ignored numerous attempts on my part to ask them questions about their explicit and implicit philosophical assumptions.
This reflects, as I think about it in hindsight, a kind of approach to open yet critical thought that only Michel de Montaigne reminds me of. If I could associate this with a principle, I’d call it “check your thoughts against those of others with as much due diligence as you can.” (I do reiterate that this should actually seem to go without saying, but I cannot tell you how many times I come across even those who boast the most prestigious degrees who are all too fast to make assumptions or sink deep into their biases. Most of us do learn in college to really adopt this practice, but in my experience, few teach it and practice it habitually.)
As a result of learning this principle, I became an avid reader/listener of political commentaries, especially those in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and on MSNBC. It was also Dr. Winogora who instilled in me the very basis of my aesthetics. That is to say, Dr. Winogora taught me that it is okay and even helpful to think of things beyond a single discipline, or think in a “interdisciplinary” way—a way of thinking which helped me contemplate the world more holistically than myopically. (This is what I had in mind when I fancied myself a “Creative Writer”; I understood it as a foundation for “free thought.”) This explains in large part my fascination with Michel de Montaigne, who I consider an wonderfully interdisciplinary personal essayist, who integrates self-reflection with history, politics, philosophy, literature, even sociology in way, et cetera.(I mention Montaigne in particular because I do note that most of the “personal essays” I encounter in my research veer less towards the philosophical and the thought-process reflective, and more towards rote narration of more strictly concrete- oriented “experiences.”
((I think Philip Lopate might suffice as one of the rare modern exceptions in this case)
More recently, Dr. Winogora captured my interest in the unique strand of pragmatic thought developed by Charles Sanders Peirce.
To be more specific, I discovered in this research, Peirce’s ideas on epistemological and perceptual clarity and clarification over a need to feel a fixed, static sense of absolute truth, never again to be revised, or in the other extreme, a skepticism or non-believe in truth so severe as to stifle one’s capacity to think constructively and practically.
On the topic of Postmodernism I am especially in debt to Heather Lockheart (who wrote a thesis on the topic) and Matthew Snope, who has helped me consider the concept from multiple perspectives. In the realm of aesthetics, beyond the influence of Dr. Wingora and Montaigne on the fundamentals of my thinking, I am also in debt to Bernard Foyeth.
As I mentioned in my acknowledgements page, Mr. Foyeth revolutionized my approach to aesthetics, encouraging me to think beyond established definitions and existing conventions. Moreover, considering the fact that my medium is podcast niche is the extemporaneous essay, I am in debt to Mr. Foyeth, with whom I’ve enjoyed epically long and deep conversations which contributed to my learning how to really talk.
Finally, a brief comment on conversations I had with engineer Mark Lewis. So far as philosophy is concerned, it was in the midst of a discussion we were having on the definition of “reason” that I felt compelled to be more assertive and transparent in my contemplations on philosophical questions…. [TO BE CONTINUED…]