April 20, 2011


me: Philosophical Dictionary at 600 items


  "The object of the superior man is truth"
   -- Confucius

  "If it is in our power to act nobly, it is also in our power to do evil."
   -- Aristotle

I started my Philosophical Dictionary in 2004, not so much to write yet another one like the rest, but as the only means I had to render my own philosophical ideas and understanding of philosophical terms in an accessible and brief and coherent way.

Indeed, before going on, here are five items that do a good job in explaining philosophy, philosophers, and philosophical terminology:

I'll also make some helpful comments on each of these, since they all contain a lot of text:

Stanford Encyclopedia: This was probably intended by its editor Edward Zalta as a follow-up of editor Paul Edward's 1960ies paper volumes (4 or 8, depending on the edition) called "Encyclopedia of Philosophy", which I owe since decades and have read most of (unlike many academically employed "philosophers" I could name).

In any case: Both encyclopedias are American but with many academic specialists from many countries as contributors; as a rule the contributors are specialists in the field they write about; and currently most entries seem well done - which I add because five and more years ago there was far too much postmodernism in its pages for my refined logical and analytical tastes, but that has since considerably lessened, though there are still pomoish entries.

If you want the current informed academic wisdom on a philosophical topic, this is probably the first place to turn to - with the qualification that many of its lemmas are mostly for specialists by specialists, so it usually helps if you know some philosophy and some about the topic.

Internet Encyclopedia: This was fairly small some ten years ago, when I read a good part of it, and liked the Stanford Encyclopedia better, and since then it has considerably expanded, also with more editors and contributors, and I have not read much of the new stuff.

As far as I can tell, the Internet Encyclopedia generally does a fair to good job, and seems more directed at the general intelligent reader than the Stanford one.

Factasia, by Roger Bishop Jones: This is an extensive site by Roger Bishop Jones, who was a specialist in automatic theorem-proving, and who has a taste and a talent for logic, analytical philosophy and related things, and explains things very well.

It differs from the previous two in being based explicitly on a philosophical point of view, namely R.B. Jones's conception of analytic philosophy, and in being the work of one man, rather than a whole congregation of specialists, each writing in their own way about their own subject, but that it is the work of one man has many advantages, and few setbacks having the previous two encyclopedias also available on line.

I like this a lot, but then I also have a taste for logic and analytical philosophy.

Squashed Philosophers, by Glyn Hughes: This summarizes important books from some 50 philosophers. I liked the summaries I read, and I usually had read the books summarized.

I do not think this is a good way to seriously read philosophy, but it is a good way to find out quickly what this or that philosophical author or book is about, while in the summaries you get many of the good and quotable bits from the works summarized. Indeed, the quotations in this Nederlog were lifted form Hughes' opening page.

Wikipedia Philosophy: This links to the Philosophy page in the Wikipedia, where there is quite a lot about philosophy and philosophers, and also about related matters, such as logic and mathematics.

I suppose that meanwhile I have read a fair amount of the philosophical entries, and they tend to be useful, though for my taste they often are too postmodernistic, while it also is a setback that you don't know who wrote or edited the entry. But there generally are links to matters outside the Wikipedia, which is quite helpful.

If you want to be seriously informed about some philosophical subject, it is probably wise to search the Stanford Encyclopedia and the Internet Encyclopedia and the Wikipedia on the term(s) for the subject, and then use the results of those searches if you want to know more.

In any case ... in the present internet circumstances people who want to know about philosophy, philosophers, or philosophical terminology, are well off (and much better than I was before the internet, having to buy or borrow the books I wanted to read). Also, my Philosophical Dictionary, while being there to summarize my own understanding of philosophy and philosophical and logical terminology, is mostly objective, though I do take the liberty to mix in my own opinions and values (and I do not lie about that, nor do I play games of verbal irony: I generally try to be clear about what I really think).

Feeling somewhat better lately than before, I picked up on writing lemmas for it, and started now putting in most of the philosophical names with dates that I want to include. And in fact this is about the first time I turned to books and the internet for my Philosophical Dictionary, since I do not know all dates for philosophers by rote.

That is, so far the entries in the Philosophical Dictionary have been written from the top of my head, without books or notes, basically for three reasons:

(1) Being ill, I can simply not afford normally to find the books from my library, while I had slow internet till July 2009, that much limited my search capacities on it: I do it from the top of my head, or not at all.
(2) In view of (1) and because I have done great amounts of reading, I thought it from the beginning advisable to first write a Philosophical Dictionary with fairly brief lemmas, that formulated my main takes on my subjects, and leave the rest till better or more healthy times, also as I know fairly to very well what (I believe) I know and why I do, and also know fairly to very well what (I believe) I don't know.
(3) It must be and remain a personal work, in which I am free to express myself, rather than a competitor of the Stanford Encyclopedia or the Internet Encyclopedia, which I anyway am not qualified to write, being one ill person, and also do not want to write, because I do not even want to pretend I am objective, impartial, or in the know of all relevant research, firstly because I generally am not, and secondly because others also rarely are, except perhaps when writing on one or a few subjects.

As it happens, I am fairly satisfied with the Philosophical Dictionary, also because I am quite aware of what went into it, and what it took to write and make it, and it presently exists 7 years, having been started in April 2004.

The present plan, as evidenced also by my entries of philosophers' names and dates, and so far, in most cases, little else, is to finish a first version of the dictionary "in a short while" (this is bound to be an illusion if I get worse again, but one can hope: thence the scare-quotes), and then use that, if I can, for a longer version with more research in books and on the internet, if not in general, then for those subjects and persons that interest me or that I know a lot about.

Finally, a brief elucidation of today's quotations:

  "The object of the superior man is truth"
   -- Confucius

  "If it is in our power to act nobly, it is also in our power to do   
   -- Aristotle

As it happens, I have always believed both, while postmodernism for the most part, apart from posturing, bullshit, phony terminology, delusions and bad grammar driven by careerism, amounts to the utter dogmatic denial of both, since for postmodernists there is no truth, there are no superior men (except if pomo), and all morals are absolutely relative.

For more see my Yahooism & democracy and Scientific Realism versus Postmodernism, as it seems to be my fate in life to be a philosophical Cassandra: I have tried to speak the truth about the decline of civilization, about the ruining of the universities, about being ill with ME, about the Amsterdam municipal and mayoral corruption as regards illegal drugs, and indeed about the right way of doing philosophy and being human, but seem to be regarded by the dysfunctional human beings between which I must try to survive as if I am the one who is dysfunctional, not because they have any proof, knowledge, or insight, but because they are ignorant, stupid and in solid majority, and are being led by the worst individuals one can find in the nation.  (*)

(*) To repeat: I have been gassed by drugsdealers and drugscorrupt bureaucrats in Amsterdam because I did not and could not and would not conform to the existing practice of "tolerating" - helping, defending, sharing profits - mafia drugsdealers who terrorized me, and people in my environment, who all like really adjusted conformist Dutchmen pretended nothing was wrong and everyone was fine and equal, and mayors and drugsdealers and Amsterdam coppers and district attorneys anyway are even more equal than the rest of the Dutch.

Nobody cared: It was not their pain; it were not their ruined human rights; and while Dutchmen generally like to dabble in everything and shoot off their mouth about any subject, they are very politely pleasant and nice to any drugsdealer and any mayor. And "we all have the force to support the miseries of others" (Rochefoucauld)

To arrive at what I wanted to say: In my moral metrics, that happen to coincide with the spirit and text but not the practice of existing Dutch laws, mayors, district attorneys, policemen and bureaucrats who help the maffia, or who do not help an invalid, are worse than maffiosi, especially if they defend their sick practices by an appeal to the highest moral ideas, as the criminals who have been ministers, leading bureaucrats, judges, prime ministers, mayors, aldermen, council members and parliamentarians all have done since 40 years.

And mind you: 90 of a 100 Dutchmen believe or will believe that it is my fault that I insist on the maintenance of the existing Dutch laws in my case: I am being impolite to my betters, such as the Uebermenschen (human degenerates) Van Thijn and Cohen, the first a former mayor of Amsterdam and minister; the latter a former mayor of Amsterdam and presently the leader of the opposition in parliament.

Again, mind you: In the past 30 years I have not met one Dutchman who blames these Amsterdam mayors, or the ministers or parliamentarians, for protecting the mafia, for "tolerating" illegal drugs, and all in spite of the fact that all must know that doing so, these same mayors Van Thijn and Cohen must have helped tens of thousands or more Europeans to get hooked on cocaine or heroine, over the past 30 years, by their protecting of the local Amsterdam drugsmafia, in the name of Amsterdam or Dutch tolerance.

It is because of the existence of individuals like Van Thijn and Cohen that I believe there are born human beasts: There you have two of them, torturing others for pleasure, to indulge their sense of power and sadism; and protecting drugsmafiosi in the name of human ideals my parents and grandparents defended, when this was extra-ordinarily dangerous.

P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

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