Welcome to my Web site about politics, science, philosophy, and any other subject about which I feel is worth writing. The essays published here are the result of a lifetime of contemplation about these subjects, especially philosophy. While several of the essays, especially those on epistemology and ethics, are quite rigorous, I have tried to write them all to be comprehensible by any intelligent reader, even if the reader does not have a background in these subjects. In many of these areas the introduction that I give may not be sufficient, therefore I have provided copious links to sources for a more detailed background. While some of these are textbooks, many of them are references to Wikipedia, in which most of the articles are written to be understood by general audiences.
Although I am an independent scholar, and not a philosopher by profession, I had thought about attempting to publish the more original articles here in peer-reviewed journals. However, I decided to take the easy route and publish them myself on the public Web. Hopefully those ideas of mine that are original will attract some attention from the professionals in the area.
I should note that my essays on politics are not about current day-to-day issues. So far I have not written any articles on specific U.S. presidents or global conflicts, for example. Instead, these essays address long-term problems, which like earthquakes, are slowly brewing but which may not precipitate a crisis for a number of years (or decades).
Let me close with some comments on philosophy. I define philosophy as the study of subjects whose statements cannot be proven with pure logic, nor can they be explored empirically via science1. Philosophy is generally considered to consist of three subjects. One is epistemology, which is the study of knowledge. The primary question asked in epistemology is: how do we know what we know, and in particular, how can we be justified in our beliefs? Another is metaphysics. This is a wide-ranging subject, one that is often viewed with derision. Some, but not all, topics and theories in metaphysics deserve this ridicule. I define metaphysics as the set of those subjects that study the external world but that do not fall under the domain of science. By “external world” I mean the world outside each of our minds. The third subject in philosophy is ethics, which is concerned with the subject of value (what is good and why?) and morals (how should we treat others?).
Most topics in philosophy explore the most basic assumptions that we make about life and the world. The majority of people rarely if ever even think about these assumptions, and those that do tend to take them on faith from authority without questioning them on their own. However, this is a mistake, because built on top of these assumptions are the values and opinions that we hold, and the choices that we make in life. Individual opinions in turn shape the decisions that are made on a national and international scale. I strongly recommend that you question the philosophical assumptions that you hold, and with a skeptical attitude. This does not mean that you need to abandon your beliefs, but examine them from an objective, unbiased viewpoint. If everyone did this, we all might be able to reach agreement on our many conflicts, which would result in a more peaceful and prosperous world2.
- For more on this see my essay On Truth.
- Robert Wright has recently written that political conflicts are more often due to psychological factors than to a lack of a common philosophy. He may be correct, but I still believe that agreement on our most basic assumptions would help in this regard. See Wright, Robert, “Why We Fight — And Can We Stop It?”, The Atlantic, Vol. 312, No. 4 (November, 2013), pg. 102-116, available online at <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/why-we-fightand-can-we-stop/309525/>.