What's What: Philosophical Writings

Bill Meacham got his college and university degrees in philosophy, and then left that field to make his living as a programmer, software designer, project manager and requirements analyst. But he never quit thinking about the nature of reality and his place in it, the nature of human beings and how it makes sense to live our lives. He writes it all down in a way that is accessible to an interested person who is not trained in philosophy but also rigorous enough that professional philosophers will find merit in it, or at least something worth arguing with.

He would like to hear your ideas and comments. Please email him at .

On this page

Various Papers and Videos, newest first

Research Papers for the Book, the precursor to How To Be an Excellent Human

Dissertation, written in 1971, still relevant

Works by Other People, archived here for convenience


Philosophy for Real Life, a blog about philosophical concerns and how they affect our lives.

The book How To Be An Excellent Human in paperback.

The book How To Be An Excellent Human in PDF format.

The free ebook How To Exert Free Will.

Various Papers and Videos

How To Talk About Subjectivity, a video of a presentation to several online philosophy groups, 19 November 2020. See paper of the same title below.

The Pragmatism of William James (PDF), 199 KB, a presentation to several online philosophy groups, 2 June 2020.

The Pragmatism of C.S. Peirce (PDF), 312 KB, a presentation to several online philosophy clubs, 12 May 2020.

The Goodness Ethic, a presentation to the Ethical Society of Austin, 17 March 2019

Reassessing Morality (html);   PDF 148 KB. Conflicts based on differing moral intuitions are notoriously difficult to resolve. An investigation of the ontology of morality as experienced gives us clues as to why this is so.

How to Talk About Subjectivity (Don’t Say “Consciousness”) (html);   PDF 400 KB. Forthcoming in Journal of Consciousness, Vol. 19, No. 62.

Learning from Masters: Ethics and Cosmology in Zarathustra and Hazrat Inayat Khan

What Good Is Philosophy?, a presentation to Austin Philosophy Discussion Group, 22 December 2014 (PDF only) 362 KB

Book Review: Ethics Without Morals

Heidegger's Phenomenology and Human Excellence (html);   PDF 184 KB

Being Human in a Conscious Universe (html);   PDF 393 KB

How to Derive "Ought" from "Is" (PDF only) 267 KB

Permaculture Ethics and the Chain of Benefits (html);   PDF 65 KB

La Ética de la Permacultura y la Cadena de Beneficios (PDF only) 65 KB

Consciousness and Human Excellence (html);   PDF 72 KB

Talking About the First-Person

Is there a God?

How are the Mind and Brain Related?

Why Be Good?

What is the Nature of Reality?

What is the Meaning Of Life?


Ethical Sonography (PDF only) 20 KB. An early statement of ideas on ethics.

Research Papers for the Book

These papers are the precursor to How To Be an Excellent Human.
The HTML versions are better for viewing on-line. To download a printable copy, right-click (Windows) or ctrl-click (Mac) a PDF link and select "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File". You can use the free Acrobat Reader to open the PDF files.


Introduction (html);   PDF 36 KB

Part I: Being Human

Posing the Question (html);   PDF 20 KB

Facets of Human Nature (html);   PDF 375 KB

The First-Person Point of View (html);   PDF 97 KB

The Transcendental Self (html);   PDF 101 KB

Part II: Supplementary Essays


The Good and the Right (html);   PDF 85 KB

The Goodness Ethic (html);   PDF 53 KB


Tao Te Ching Ontology (html);   PDF 192 KB

Metaphysics, or The Nature of Reality (html);   PDF 131 KB

The Quantum Level of Reality (html);   PDF 545 KB

Self, Soul and Ego (html);   PDF 116 KB


The Fundamental Insight (html);   PDF 100 KB

Spiritual Practice (html);   PDF 25 KB


Consciousness and Experience (html);   PDF 130 KB

Phenomenology of the Self (html);   PDF 573 KB


Truth (html);   PDF 66 KB


A Phenomenological Description of the Self (html);   PDF 628 KB

Works by Other People

These are works Meacham considers important enough to reproduce here.

'Right and Good' from The Dictionary of the History of Ideas

C. S. Peirce: The Fixation of Belief

C. S. Peirce: How to Make Our Ideas Clear

C. S. Peirce: Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man

C. S. Peirce: Some Consequences of Four Incapacities

William James: What Pragmatism Means

William James: Pragmatism's Conception of Truth

William James: A World of Pure Experience

William James: Does 'Consciousness' Exist

William James: The Will to Believe



Phone: +1 (512) 291-4300

Home Page – bmeacham.com