Reflective practice


For me Practical Philosophy is Reflective Practice. Practising reflection puts our ideas continually under scrutiny and makes them available for change. My views are continually under revision, continually changing and for me that is the essence of Practical Philosophy.

    Reflecting is a very practical undertaking. It requires us to think on and through a subject which is important to us. Thinking requires effort and is best done when we feel keen to pursue some particular train of thought. Thoughts that we can follow most readily are to do with matters which affect our lives or the lives of those close to us, and revolve around concerns that apparently have no present solution. No reflections here claim to reach a result, or a right result, sometimes the process may make things clearer, but in so doing, in the short term, make matters worse. The process of reflection is a continuing one. Sometimes we reach conclusions only to overturn them a later date. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by discovering something we did not know before and which we feel opens up a whole new part of life. It may work for a while until we find it untenable or unreliable. The process of reflection should be seen as a process of discovery into an open territory which is our future. It is a personal interrogation but not one that intends to find any psychological or past reasons for behaviour. Sometimes a reflection is in introspective investigation—one of questioning ourselves, sometimes it is a reflection directed at another or undertaken with another. Sometimes a reflection my be poetic, sometimes it may be terse and abrupt. Philosophical reflection does not demand quiet or solitude. Sometimes this can be stimulating, but so are people, noise and confusion. It is often good to seek out the clatter of the world—we should think more often of retreating to then retreating from.

     All the reflections here are my own. Some simply came to me, some are part of concerted thinking. Some are stimulated by correspondence with another, or by conversation, or by seeing other people in the world. Some are set off by being with another, listening to what they have said, or remembering what they listened to when we spoke to them. Some come from quiet moments, some from the world at its noisiest. Some come when we feel tranquil and at peace, some when we are surrounded by the clatter of movement and turmoil. Some derive from times when anxieties seem distant, some when they face us with their full force. None are conclusive. All leave further questions to be thought of. All, however, take us to a place where we have never been before, because, before them, the thoughts we had, had never been.

    Most of the First set are put down in the same format: introduction, refection, comments. There is no order other than that it is a list.

    The Second set are in the main more constructed pieces with no introduction or comments.

    The Third set are short fictional thoughts—stories stimulated by another or by something in the world. I find that sometimes placing reflections into words in this way illuminates my thoughts more clearly. Some of them speak of the eroticism in the world, one of the loss of childhood and of the distance of our past memories, another the horror of guilt, some of fear and horror, and one of the confusion of other worlds with different rules.

    The Fourth set contains some pieces that are more an attempt to capture something of a moment, or a moment’s thought or an idea in something of a poetic form. I call them ‘poem-ish’.

First set--Reflections

What is me? What is the world?

What do I mean by consciousness?

What is it to experience the world?

A good rule, look closer

‘Sense of union’

Something or nothing?

Wisdom and what it is to be wise

An enlightenment for me stimulated by correspondence with another

Faith, reason and the rational coherence of inner transformation: four thoughts

The absurd tragedy of life

Reflection over four days on another’s search for meaning

Why should we be happy?

The beast and the burrow, keeping perspective

A little on death

Reflection stimulated by the suicide of Isabella

Releasing our individual eroticism—replacing agapic love with the erotic

On a tram—a realisation of agapic love

In a cafe—an overwhelming sense of love brings about a deep reverie

On love at first sight

A concluding thought on wisdom

Coming out of a fog

Second set--Reflections

The erotic

When the world seems a dead end

Actuality and anticipation

Sometimes how I sense the world

Reflections on my pond

Wisdom, personal mortality, and those that follow

At a railway crossing

Retreats and like minds

The most anxious girl

Thoughts in an airport

Farewell to a dying cousin

The man with the rolled up cigarette

Third set--Stories

Geraldine sits forward


The pig cooler

The flag

The cat Mona

The last weekend

The tunnel

Meeting the girl


The watch

And so it goes

No vacancies

Welcome to Heathrow Airport

The Wish

The news

The new carpet

Katherine to be married

Fourth set--Poem-ish

Abandoned in a land

Cafe kiss

Cafe kiss 2

Glass case man (a lyric)

All gone

It was just passing time

Only one



For me you prance

I’m yours it seems

That shard

Beyond and within I

Beyond and within II


The lost room

Sight, sound and nothingness

The map

The runes of darkness

How near the surface

Spots of time

The secret tears

The spell

Women in Valium

Audience with the emperor

Beyond and within abstract--an abstraction of reality

Time is unreal


Coming out of a fog

No conversation today

What did I see?

You have opened yourself up

Epiphany I

Epiphany II


It’s a phone!

You’re never alone with a phone


How I yearn to journey

The life you lead is mine



The thin red thread



Coming out of a fog again


Not enough sex

Making a poem


The Foundling

My life has been just a little story

The waiting room

Secrets out

That shard

What is loneliness made of?

The clatter of value

Those thousand smiles


Thinking of you

Why do I fall in love with you? Why am I in love with you?

What is a mood?


I want this--you

Just for a day

Sitting and waiting

So it’s gone

The beast inside

Let me describe it

The lost room

Still wondering

The magic light

Out on the weekend

Running to

Sitting in Dublin Airport

Reflective practice