Thoughts and plans for 2017

Photo by Bernardo Kastrup,
hereby released into the public domain.

As the first, cold month of the year already draws to a close, I wanted to update you all on what is in the works for this year, as well as share a thought that seems relevant in the context of the current cultural ethos.

First of all, the thought: because I am a proponent of the philosophy of idealism—the notion that all reality is essentially mental—some people have concluded that I endorse the current cultural abomination often referred to as "post truth" or "alternative facts." Although the vast majority of you would never be so confused as to come to such a conclusion, I feel I must be crystal clear here:

Idealism does not entail, imply, or even suggest anything remotely similar to the notion that there aren't such things as facts. There are facts, alright; there are hard facts. We ignore them at our own peril.

All idealism does is to state that the essential nature of facts is mental. But mental facts can still be what I call "weakly objective" in my book Meaning in Absurdity, in the sense that they do not depend on our personal wishes or imagination. They are what they are, regardless of what we, as individual humans, think of them, whether we like them, or even whether we believe them at an egoic level. According to my formulation of idealism, what we call the "empirical world" is the image of mental processes outside and independent of our personal mentation. As such, everything that is the case in the empirical world is a hard fact that can be confirmed—or disconfirmed—by the scientific method. Idealism not only doesn't deny facts, it doesn't deny the value or importance of science either.

Indeed, my approach to idealism rests on judiciously done science. Science is the best method ever devised by humankind to find out what the facts are. Where science—and many scientists—come short is in trying to interpret the facts. Interpretation is a job for philosophers, who are, by and large, more aware of their underlying assumptions and sharper in their ontological reasoning than the science spokespeople I often criticize. My criticism of these people does not imply that I am against science, or against the notion that there are such things as facts. And for the record, I think the attempt to deny facts—ridiculous as it is—is the most dangerous and pernicious cultural phenomenon in recent history.

OK, enough said about it.

So what's up for 2017, as far as my philosophy work is concerned? As I have said before on social media, this year I'll be focusing on publishing a number of academic papers in mainstream science and philosophy journals. The articles already published can be found in the "papers" page of this website, also accessible via the top menu bar. I will continuously update that page as more articles become available.

Although the editors of the journals I am submitting these papers to do not know the big picture behind them, each paper represents a piece of a larger jigsaw puzzle. They are parts of an overall academic articulation of idealism, both from philosophical and scientific perspectives, which is my main goal for this year. Once all papers are published, my plan is to collect them in a book, adding an overarching story to connect them all together and reveal the broader picture underlying them. I hope to submit the final draft of this new book to my publisher in the course of this year, so the book will be available (early) in 2018.

The ambition here is to lay a rigorous foundation for my philosophy, up to the standards of academia. Do I think this is fundamentally important? No. In fact, I confess to feeling quite ambiguous about the project. Although academic peer-review is sometimes very helpful to sharpen and refine one's arguments, other times it reflects outright prejudice, myopia, and—if I may be brutally frank—plain stupidity. I have had both types of experience thus far. But not doing this project would be construed by some as a sign that idealism—or at least my formulation of it—cannot stand to honest academic scrutiny. This is plainly untrue, as I shall demonstrate this year. Once the project is done, my six earlier books will be shown to stand on solid philosophical and scientific ground.

In addition, I am also discussing with my publisher revised editions of those earlier books. Right now, my thinking is to produce whole new editions of Why Materialism Is Baloney and Rationalist Spirituality, which are primed for major updates. Not only do I think I can argue my case in these books more cogently, new science has come to light that helps shore up the argument. As for the other four titles, I will work at least on revised editions. The availability date for these revisions is unclear at this stage, since I haven't started working on them yet. But I hope to come to it this year.

As far as conferences and public appearances are concerned, I don't have any commitments thus far, except for my participation at the 12th Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics and Aesthetics. But that's actually in January 2018, so it doesn't count yet. My choice so far has been to focus on the academic work, and keep my very restricted possibilities to travel open for key opportunities that may come in the course of the year. If and when this happens, I will let you all know through my social media presence.

This is it for now. Stay tuned to the "papers" page of this website for new articles, as they become available in the course of this year.