October 25, 2012

A book?! A book?! He writes a book?!


1. A book?! A book?! He writes a book?!
2. On my Philosophical Dictionary
    A. The appearance of my Philosophical Dictionary
    B. The contents of my Philosophical Dictionary
PS. My eye problems


Yes: I am trying to write a book - a Dutch book, since I am Dutch, and because I do expect it is more likely to be published in Dutch, where the need for such a book as I have in mind also is larger than in England or the US. I explain myself in what follows.

1. A book?! A book?! He writes a book?!

Indeed, I decided that I might as well try to write a book - and I mean one that is meant to be printed on paper. The aim is to prepare a Dutch version of the Philosophical Dictionary for being printed, in some form.

My reasons to want to do so are diverse. I will list some, to clarify my end and my general point of view:

  1. I want to do something I consider humanly and socially useful, even though I am ill.
  2. I think my sites (two, that mirror each other) are such, but what with my eyes being as bad as they have been for some 5 months now, I can't edit much there, and besides, this will disappear if I die.
  3. The Philosophical Dictionary as is, is a fair if by no means a full explanation of what I think about philosophy and related subjects, and is both original and informed.
  4. The Philosophical Dictionary as is, is quite readable for most intelligent people, and does not posture or presuppose knowledge most educated intelligent persons can not be fairly expected to have (as does e.g. the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that is good and extensive, but also for and by academic specialists in philosophy, at least for a considerable part, in style, presentation and presuppositions).
  5. What is needed, certainly in Holland, is something like my Philosophical Dictionary, namely to give ordinary educated persons a clear, well-written presentation of philosophy from a sensible point of view, that is, a scientific realist one as regards knowledge, and a classical liberal one as regards politics, precisely because there are no systematic expositions of that kind in Dutch.
  6. Besides, I want it to be amusing next to instructive, and to give food for thought rather than a dogmatic sum-up, especially in and for times that seem to sink away in right-wing dogmatism and the construction of authoritarian states.
  7. I can do it and like to do it, apart from the present problems with my eyes, and indeed I have done most of the necessary work in English, for and in my Philosophical Dictionary.
There are more reasons, but these are some of the reasons why I think it worth doing, and why I think - with provisos for my eyes - that I can do it.

Besides, I would like to leave something useful, and I am also not aversive to writing and publishing and making money that way - except that since 1984, when I entered the Amsterdam dole, and found it infested and ruled by sadists, liars, freaks, and human degenerates totally impossible to get to any agreement about anything whatsoever - such as my rights not to be grossly offended personally, not to have my parents be grossly offended in public, and not to be threatened with murder and violence by Amsterdam civil servants - let alone about the rational use of my intellectual talents, for any sensible social or personal purpose, of for writing books: That would only have given additional reasons for discrimination, abuse, physical threats with murder, and exercises of bureaucratic sadism.

Being 62 now, living in a time of crisis, and having certain documents, perhaps it is now, at long last, possible for me to use my talents for something socially useful, that may even become personally remunerative.

To be sure: I am aware both the remunerativeness and usefulness are speculative.

For example: I do not know of a publisher who would want to take the risk, even if he (or she) would agree that a Dutch counterpart of a
perhaps restyled, renamed, and also a properly contextualized version of my Philosophical Dictionary, would do some good in Holland if it were read, e.g. by increasing the standards and knowledge of rational thinking and reasonable behavior some.

After all: I am not well known in Holland, even if I am fairly well read, comparatively:

I never appeared on television or radio, and the chances such a one as I will ever be able to freely talk in the Dutch media for more than 15 seconds is small, for the Dutch media are quite properly stonewalled for all opinions and from all people who are not approved by Dutch governors of all kinds, except for those who do have some parlementarian representation nevertheless. (The reason for this fact is that the Dutch media are mostly run, still, by the members of my own formerly "radical" "leftist" generation of careerist betrayers of all ideals, all civilization, all science, and all human excellence, who now, and since decades, work for the Dutch government or cities, to take care of PR and of the continued absence of virtually any voice of reason, that doubts the excellencies or motives of the persons in power.)

Therefore I do not know whether any Dutch publisher would want to run the risk to publish me on paper.

Then again, I know I can write, for I have been told so for close to 50 years now, and it also is a fact that my sites do get fairly well read - thousands of hits every day, by probably between 1000 and 2000 visitors each day, who read my sites each day collectively for a time of 3 to 10 days - and all in spite of having mostly difficult material, about subjects that are not of interest to most persons (such as philosophy, programming, logic and ME/CFS), and in spite of being very critical of much that is fashionable, popular, or normal in Holland.

And I do not yet know how I would present a book on paper, of which the central part is like a dictionary of ideas and of my ideas - for it may not be wise to present it as a mere dictionary, and indeed that is not what I want it to be: I want it to be literature, readable in its own right for fun and not merely for instruction or information, even if my intention is serious, namely to increase the number of persons who think sensibly, and have adequate ideas about the important things in life.

That indeed is the idea, my purpose, an end in view. It may turn out to be a mere dream, an impracticable illusion - but I really do not know of anyone else in Holland who would be either willing or capable to do what I am willing and capable to do in this respect.

So I will try to do this, to the best of my abilities, much limited as they presently are by ME/CFS and by its common associate Sjoegren's Disease, that effects my eyes.

It remains to add a little on my Philosophical Dictionary.

2. On my Philosophical Dictionary

my Philosophical Dictionary (PD) is 17.3 MB on my hard disk; contains 1783 items, of which parts are images of arrows and pictures of philosophers and illustrations of lemmas in the PD, while it contains 627 terms. (The reason for many more items than terms is that one of the html-editors makes duplicate administrative files. These I leave be for the moment, in case I need to use the editor.)

Now I need to say some about two things relating to the PD, namely its appearance and its contents.

A. The appearance of my Philosophical Dictionary

As it presently stands on my site(s) it is - I say it as I see it - a bit ugly:

I have been working on it for some months in 2011 and 2012 with an editor without a proper set-up for font sizes, and thus have destroyed quite a few lemmas as regards the formatting of their font: Some text, in many lemmas, appears in a small letter, that may be too small for some, and some text appears - in the same lemma, often - in a large letter, that tends to be too large for most.

This happened because I did not see it: The same font settings that caused the problems caused that I did not see them (until several months into 2012, when the harm had been done, and also uploaded).

This definitely needs undoing, and in fact I have found a way to do it, piecewise, with such eyes and editors as I currently have, both of which could be a lot better, and would be, if I had an effective say in it.

But then I have found a way to put things right, and indeed have mostly reformatted the items under the letters A and B in
my Philosophical Dictionary, say some 10% of the total that needs doing.

This is the first thing I need to make right - and which will probably increase the usage of my PD, which was used rather a lot until the end of 2011, when I unwittingly was destroying its appearance, as explained.

B. The contents of my Philosophical Dictionary

As it presently stands on my site(s) it is, it still is almost wholly my own creation, typed from the top of my head, through eight years now.

This is indeed also as it started out in 2004, firstly, because that was the only way I could do it, firstly, lacking the health for excessive consultations of dictionaries and encyclopedias; secondly, because that seemed a good way of doing it, at least if what I wanted to give - as I did and do - predominantly my own ideas, albeit avoiding giving false information; and thirdly, because I never got as far as checking my PD extensively against an encyclopedia of philosophy, which was the original idea: First write out what I think, to the best of my knowledge and ability, and then check, verify, correct and extend.

I do believe it worked out fairly well, and what I want to do first is to make the PD look decent again, as explained under A, above.

What I will not do is extensively cross-check my PD with other Philosophical Dictionaries that I am aware of that are on the internet. I will briefly explain why.

The only ones in English that I conceivably could use - and indeed may use, for some lemmas, eventually - are the Stanford Encyclopedia and and Internet Encyclopedia, both, Of Philosophy. I do not mind using these for dates or book-references or the proper way to write a name, but I will also not use their contents, mostly because these are not written by me, and I tend to disagree with at least some of what I read, while I also - often - do not like the styles of writing, and anyway the articles often are too long for what I think is appropriate for my PD, that does not want to bother the reader with lengthy academic disquisitions (for the most part).

There possibly are some exceptions, and if I use material from those exceptions I will explicitly say so, but by and large I have stated my policy on these two encyclopedias of philosophy: I will not use them, though indeed I have read rather a lot from the
Stanford Encyclopedia especially - which I recommend you use, if you want the currently accepted academic point of view, and want it from an on line encyclopedia.

What I will not do is extensively cross-check my PD with whatever is in Wikipedia on the same items, though here I am less strict, because (i) the articles tend to be less academic and less for specialists only or mostly, and (ii) the articles tend to be shorter.

But I have done little of such cross checking, and indeed have explicitly listed as quoted what I have quoted. I may do more of such cross checking, in part because of (ii), and indeed I may also decide to give links to articles in my lemmas, to Wikipedia, and indeed to the two internet encyclopedias I mentioned, and that mostly to help the reader: I do not believe I have an exclusive insight in what is true and fair.

What I do intend to do some considerable cross checking with is the one Encyclopedia of Philosophy I know best, and indeed read most of: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy edited by Paul Edwards, in 8 single or also 4 double volumes. This was published by MacMillan Publishing Co. Inc., and by The Free Press, first in 1967, and I owe a Reprint Edition 1972, that I bought around 1980.

This is the edition in 4 double volumes, that I have consulted and browsed for over 30 years now, and indeed I have read most of that Encyclopedia (few can honestly say so, I am sure!), and also annotated a lot in it. It is mostly because of my annotations that I want to cross check what is in my PD and in that EoP - but I did not do this so far, possibly with one or two exceptions.

This is the EoP I like the best of all I have seen and read in. The reasons for this is that it rhymes well with the readings I did in modern philosophy and logic and philosophy of science  (since most contributors of it, at least in the main articles, I know something about, and often read something else by); the EoP is well edited, and written, for the most part, in decent US English; and finally I feel most familiar with the sort of philosophical assumptions that went into its making, which were more coordinated with philosophy of science and mathematical logic, in many of its articles, than these days seems to be deemed correct, and indeed were not blighted by postmodernism in any way, shape or form, though it also did contain some deplorable linguistic philosophy.

Taken together, I think The Encyclopedia of Philosophy edited by Paul Edwards is the best encyclopedia of philosophy I have seen, and I would much welcome it - though this is not likely to happen soon, in view of copyrights - if it were to appear in an internet edition, indeed especially because (1) this is not blighted by postmodernism in any way and (2) it was written at a time and by specialists that were considerably more propitious to what I regard as intellectually and morally decent philosophy than are the postmodern times, or perhaps rather: the post-postmodern pre-authoritarian times, in which I live as I am writing this, where intellectual, academic, writing and thinking standards have fallen far below a level that would have been considered tolerable or decent in the 1960ies when the Edwards EoP was published and written, for the most part.

To quote from the above linked article (or series of it) about
Paul Edwards from ca. 2005:

He was then described as being editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (8 volumes, 1967), “a massive Enlightenment work with a notable analytic sensibility” which “focuses on such traditional philosophical issues as God, free will, immortality, induction, and the nature of value-judgements.”

The Right Honorable Lord Quinton of Trinity College, Oxford, has called the encyclopedia “superior in every way to all its predecessors” and “there has been nothing since to compare with it.”


The Encyclopedia of Philosophy is still in print, although in an edition revised by other editors. When I visited Edwards in his New York apartment three years ago, he was distressed that the revisions had diluted the philosophical message and had been too gentle on a lot of postmodernist thought.

Therefore I will - if I can: I make no promises! - cross check my Philosophical Dictionary - which indeed is a Dictionary rather than an Encyclopedia: a choice of brief items rather than a survey of long items - with my copy of Edwards Ed.'s EoP, with its many handwritten annotations by me, and indeed perhaps also with the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, namely to check English usage, though I should add that I know English well enough to be able to give good definitions of most philosophical terms, which I also like to do myself rather than go by the book, or some book, because I do want to give my own special sense, meaning and stress to terms used in and around philosophy, namely to clarify how I see things and how I use words. Besides, anybody with internet does have access to many dictionaries, so the basic agreed upon meanings of terms should not be a problem to anyone, in principle, at least, and indeed if I deviate, as I regularly do, I do so in detail or stress rather than by using or suggesting a totally new meaning for an accepted term.

So... that is the plan:

- To revise the formatting of my Philosophical Dictionary to a decent one (as was)
- To review its contents, especially with reference to Edwards Ed.'s EoP and the SOED
- To translate the result to Dutch, so as
- To see whether I can get a Dutch version, possibly in a literary context, printed.

Currently, as of today, the entries for the letters A and B of the
Philosophical Dictionary have been reformatted to what they should look like, mostly.


Maarten Maartensz

P.S. My eye problems

                  PS: Any necessary corrections have to be made later.