An introduction from Jim Wilcox:
We all exist in the "tunnel" of history. The external world shaped by such historical factors as politics, war, economics, disease, and nature is for the most part out of our control. Certainly, there are moments when we wish a time machine existed so we could start over in a new time and place. However, I am inclined to believe that within this "tunnel" we are free to make choices that can shape the existential world in which WE live. I am interested in how we make those choices. That is where the humanities and especially philosophy can offer us a coherent way to make our choices. The essay (Philosophical Inclinations) is an example of how our personal narrative can be seen as a guide to making choices that can lead to a meaningful life even in the face of the historical events that tend to create a fragmented world. This pattern of thinking is essentially a replication of what we did in class.
Below, a letter to my former pupils can be found as a preface to Inclinations, yet students can receive a complete copy of the essay by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (for those who have not given up the pen for a keyboard) using my mailing address, 185 Freeman Street, Unit 144, Brookline MA, 02446.
As fragmented as society has become, the opportunity to reconnect allows us to find unity in the thoughts, values, and conversations that matter to us. I truly look forward to hearing from you all.
A Message from Jim Wilcox:
It is clear to me that the social fabric begins to fray when individuals are left outside the basic needs for the beginning of a meaningful journey in life. It can be argued that “shelter” is primary in this regard. I know many of us would like to see the government more involved in correcting these frayed ends in our society, but it does not look like that is going to happen with the conflicting ideologies that rule the political environment today. So these societal problems have to be corrected by us as an expression of our understanding of the existential condition.
Please read the book first and then, if you are so inclined, you might consider a donation (there is no pressure to do this) to my favorite charity, Caritas Communities. Caritas Communities is a non-profit organization that provides affordable permanent housing and support services for a variety of individuals and families that struggle to secure housing: the homeless, including veterans, young adults, the disabled, the elderly and low-wage workers. The individuals who come under the care of Caritas Communities are integrated back into a societal role, where they have both feet on the ground and, thereby, can step into that world with confidence.
To My Former Students:
I will think of this donation as a statement that the Humanities generally—and the experience you had in class specifically—helped shape your compassion for the “underdog” or for those who are most in need. The amount is not vital—it is the recognition that the foundation for a just and equal society begins with each person having the necessary space to live with respect and dignity. I think you will understand why I am drawn to Caritas Communities after reading the essay.
Thank you for being such a good student, one who was always willing to listen to my take on various subjects in the Humanities and Rhetoric. Without you, I could not be me. For that I will always be grateful.