Practical Philosophy
Gibbs A. Williams, Ph.D.

Selected Philosophical Quotations and Commentary
Relevant to Significant Psychological Change


At nineteen years of age I serendipitously discovered The Story of Philosophy. As I made my first conscious connection with some of the seminal ideas of selected speculative philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, Wm.James and the likes, I felt an instant kinship with their attitudes toward reality - both internal and external. Having unwittingly undertaken at that time, the task of organizing my own chaos, I experienced an unexpected impact as many of their words seemed to be directly speaking to my inner core. On the parched landscape of my personal desert their powerful ideas seemed like a desperately needed tonic to quench my dehydrated spirit. Without quite knowing it I was determined to find a path which would lead me out of a psycho/spiritual black hole which seemed to characterize the essential part of my existence at the time. I craved change but not just any change, rather radical, deep, significant change. I was lost and to find myself I knew I needed a map, a watch, and a compass which would provide me with objective information to locate myself in space and time. And I also needed lots of encouragement by those who had successfully found their way out of their own personal mazes. I intuitively had felt that knowledge was indeed power but I had to discover a way to harness my own personal power to make it work for me.

To this end, the philosopher's collective attitude was an endorsement to not be afraid to seek the truth of the matter at hand by challenging each and every first assumption. By daring to ask myself good organizing questions and attempting to answer them as best I could, using my own experience as raw data, I could not avoid travelling the same path as each of the speculative philosophers had done on their own personal journeys. The first big issue was frustratingly attempting to answer the hardest question of all; namely, What is really real? An associated question is,that if I deem somthing real how do I know it really is objectively so? and the third question, logically derived from the other two is, once I establish the reality of something what are the implications for action? Without understanding it at the time, in my relentless (obsessive?) pursuit of finding absolute answers to this ultimate questioning, I was participating, in my own way, in the essential preoccupations of all speculative philosophers; namely, ontology - the nature of the real; epistemology - the nature of knowledge, and ethics - the nature of good actions.

In my experience as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, I appreciate the intimate connection between the content and methods of the speculative philosophers exeedingly valuable influences in the creation of effective psychoanaltic organizing concepts, and in discovering the most salutary attitudes associated with the central analytic tasks of arranging, and maintaining the optimum conditions associated with inducing significant psychological change.

Preface | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Gibbs A.Williams Ph.D.© 1999-2000