Introducing the Uniform Reprints: Updated philosophy brought together as a whole
What are the Uniform Reprints?The Uniform Reprints are in-depth revisions of my six earlier books. The arguments have been refined and sharpened, with some ambiguous segments corrected. They have also been made consistent with one another, so that the six titles now contribute coherently to the same overall philosophical system, without seeming contradictions. Particularly, the usage of terms has been harmonized across books. Even my very first book, Rationalist Spirituality, which uses a dualist metaphor throughout, has been made more explicitly consistent with my idealist views.
Since their original publications, I have engaged in a number of exchanges about the books and fielded answers to countless questions from readers. This has given me a treasure trove of insights about how best to frame and word my case so it is better understood and misinterpretations are avoided. I have leveraged these insights while revising the text of the Uniform Reprints, which should thus be considerably clearer and more compelling.
All in all, the books now reflect and capture my thought in a more accurate, balanced and self-consistent manner. The Uniform Reprints also make clearer which role each respective book plays in the context of my overall philosophical ideas, and how they build on one another. One could even regard them now as one extensive six-volume work elaborating on a single theme from different angles and perspectives.
Why don't you call them new editions?Since so much has been revised and improved, why don't we call these new versions full-blown new editions? There are several reasons, the most important of which is this: my publisher and I did not want to inadvertently deceive readers into assuming that these new versions have new material (such as new chapters, references, etc.). For clarity, let me say this: The Uniform Reprints do not have new material. They are revised, improved, sharpened versions of the same arguments and hypotheses already covered in the original versions. Improved as they certainly are, they do not cover new ground.
In addition, I wanted to supplant the earlier versions with these new revisions, because they are simply better at doing what I originally intended to do. If the revisions were published as new editions, the original versions would have survived, since new editions are basically new books, with new ISBN numbers. As it is now, the Uniform Reprints supplant the earlier versions entirely.
Should I buy a new Uniform Reprint of a book I already have?This depends on the book and your personal situation, of course. One book in particular has been significantly improved: Rationalist Spirituality, my very first title. I am much happier with its Uniform Reprint version, as it is more accurate, compelling, clear and consistent with my idealist views. If any one of the Uniform Reprints deserves to be re-purchased if you already have the earlier version, it is this one. Of all my books, this is now the one that offers the most accessible, easy path into my ideas, because of its use of a dualist metaphor (body and soul, psyche and matter, etc.) that nearly everybody is acquainted with and have an intuition for. The original version already attempted this, but the Uniform Reprint is more successful at establishing a clear bridge from dualism to idealism.
Two other books have also been significantly improved: Meaning in Absurdity and Brief Peeks Beyond. The revisions here are less structural than in Rationalist Spirituality, but extensive and important nonetheless. If your interest in those two titles is high, it may be worthwhile to re-read them in their Uniform Reprint versions.
My best-selling title, Why Materialism Is Baloney, has gotten several improvements and corrections of passages that were ambiguous or not accurate enough. Dreamed Up Reality and More Than Allegory, on the other hand, required only language and terminology adjustments for accuracy and consistency with other titles; nothing too significant. Only real enthusiasts with no financial constraints should consider re-purchasing these.
Are the books still true to the originals?I believe each one of my books belongs to its own time and circumstances, contributing an indispensable piece of the overall jigsaw puzzle I've been attempting to put together in the body of my work. Although my thinking has moved on since I've written them, in the sense that my focus has shifted, the earlier books still capture angles and perspectives integral—even indispensable—to the overall story.
As such, it has not been my intention, with the Uniform Reprints, to turn the older titles into different books. They remain true to what they were; to their time and nexus in the development of my philosophy. If anything, I've attempted to improve on what they already tried to achieve, without in any way defacing them.
So why are you announcing it only now?Because the Uniform Reprints aren't new editions, they do not have new ISBN numbers. This means that they are treated as the exact same book as the original, logistics-wise. For this reason, there was no way to know whether a buyer would get a Uniform Reprint or an original version when purchasing: neither I nor my publisher have control over the stocks of retailers, so we couldn't be sure whether all the original versions had already been flushed out. (Naturally, this applies only to the paperback editions, as the e-book files have already all been updated.)
Had I announced the Uniform Reprints earlier, the chances that you would have gotten an older paperback version when purchasing—leading to possible disappointment—would have been high. So I felt it wasn't responsible to do so. And although even now I cannot be absolutely sure that the retailers' paperback stocks have been refreshed, the chances are at least much reduced, as I've waited literally months now. This is why this announcement is coming only today. Nota bene: I still can't guarantee that you will get the new version if you go and purchase a paperback now (the e-books are safe), for I simply have no control of the retailers' stock levels. On the other hand, if I were to delay the announcement much longer, it would hardly be news-worthy anymore.
Is this really such big news?At least from my own perspective it certainly is. In fact, if anything, I've been holding my enthusiasm back throughout this post! If I could I would be throwing virtual fireworks here. The Uniform Reprints represent a consolidation of the body of my work that few philosophers have the opportunity to achieve in their lifetime. However much one tries to fine-tune and wordsmith a manuscript, the post-publication repercussion and feedback always provide embarrassing insights into what could have been done better. Thanks to my publisher, Iff Books, I have now had the opportunity to actually leverage these insights and firm up the foundations of my philosophy in a manner that gives me great confidence. The Uniform Reprints constitute a solid edifice of ideas argued cogently, compellingly and mutually-consistently. They also anticipate and preempt a number of the criticisms that could be made against them. The result is, hopefully, quite robust.
I still have many more books in me (in fact, I have been working on two yet-unannounced new manuscripts that even my publisher knows nothing about yet; so please don't tell anyone). But seeing the Uniform Reprints come out already gives me a great sense of fulfillment. If I were to write no more books in my life, I'd already regard this set of six (soon to be seven, with The Idea of the World) as my legacy to the world of philosophy. I hope you derive as much value from reading them as I have from writing, and now revising, the books.