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Author Topic: Communicating philosophical/spiritual ideas to a wider audience  (Read 8455 times)
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« Topic Start: June 12, 2010, 04:44:19 pm »

I know there are people who post on here who write blogs and perhaps even get books published, and I'm particularly interested in their responses -  but I'll be interested in anyone's thoughts on this.

I've got some interesting (at least to me!) philosophical ideas (about the relationships between information, communication, and action among other things) which I don't at present believe I've seen clearly written down by anyone else.  I'm not an academic philosopher so I might have missed something (quite easy I suspect) but nonetheless I suspect I have a fairly new position developed through my particular (somewhat interdisciplinary) experience.  I think some of the ideas can help people understand things which are useful to them, but the ideas are really difficult to explain clearly - and I'd like to explain them to interested "lay" readers, not just to academics.  I think I can explain not only why some things happen the way they do, but also give people a model of how those things work, so people can use it to think about other related problems.  I've thought about writing a book then trying to get it published, or writing a blog (but it would probably be like a long series of essays).  I'd really like to get my ideas to the most people possible who might benefit from them, but I've been struggling (for many years) to think what the best way to achieve this might be.

I'm not sure how well worked-out all the ideas are (although they've been developing over a number of years, so I hope they are beyond pure beginner's enthusiasm).  Also I hope I'm not misjudging the usefulness of my ideas.  In both cases, I think I'll only find out by exposing the ideas to lots of other people.  I've got some reasonable experience of explaining difficult ideas to people, but I'm sure I could be better.  So my question is - how do you think I should set about doing this?
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« Reply #1: June 12, 2010, 05:54:30 pm »

I know there are people who post on here who write blogs and perhaps even get books published, and I'm particularly interested in their responses -  but I'll be interested in anyone's thoughts on this.

I've got some interesting (at least to me!) philosophical ideas (about the relationships between information, communication, and action among other things) which I don't at present believe I've seen clearly written down by anyone else.  I'm not an academic philosopher so I might have missed something (quite easy I suspect) but nonetheless I suspect I have a fairly new position developed through my particular (somewhat interdisciplinary) experience.  I think some of the ideas can help people understand things which are useful to them, but the ideas are really difficult to explain clearly - and I'd like to explain them to interested "lay" readers, not just to academics.  I think I can explain not only why some things happen the way they do, but also give people a model of how those things work, so people can use it to think about other related problems.  I've thought about writing a book then trying to get it published, or writing a blog (but it would probably be like a long series of essays).  I'd really like to get my ideas to the most people possible who might benefit from them, but I've been struggling (for many years) to think what the best way to achieve this might be.

I'm not sure how well worked-out all the ideas are (although they've been developing over a number of years, so I hope they are beyond pure beginner's enthusiasm).  Also I hope I'm not misjudging the usefulness of my ideas.  In both cases, I think I'll only find out by exposing the ideas to lots of other people.  I've got some reasonable experience of explaining difficult ideas to people, but I'm sure I could be better.  So my question is - how do you think I should set about doing this?

First question - what is your goal?  Is it communication and the sharing of your ideas, or publication, payment .. goal determines method. Cheesy

If your goal is communication, I'd suggest with starting with an essay or two here and ask for comments, critiques, etc.  I do that with my Flamekeeping stuff because I want feedback - I will probably seek some form of publication, yes, but people being able to get the information is far more important to me than payment.  If money were more my goal, or publication a higher priority, I'd be much more careful about what I post online.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a blog of essays, either.  If you've got good ideas about how to communicate difficult ideas clearly, you can BET I'd read it!  My blog is essays, and people read it.  You won't get lots of comments, but if you've got a good system and you put yourself out there, people will probably read it.

heck, if it's really good, Randall will probably kidnap you to get it put on his website. Cheesy
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« Reply #2: June 13, 2010, 10:37:03 am »

heck, if it's really good, Randall will probably kidnap you to get it put on his website. Cheesy

We're also always looking for material for the TC newsletter.  If you're interested in publishing an essay or series of essays in the Cauldron & Candle, just PM or email me (moonivy53@gmail.com).  Part of my job is to evaluate submissions for interest, as well as for things like clarity and typos, and to recommend to Randall whether we should publish the material (or not).  I'm always happy to take a look at anything.
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« Reply #3: June 14, 2010, 06:09:52 am »

I know there are people who post on here who write blogs and perhaps even get books published, and I'm particularly interested in their responses -  but I'll be interested in anyone's thoughts on this.

I've got some interesting (at least to me!) philosophical ideas (about the relationships between information, communication, and action among other things) which I don't at present believe I've seen clearly written down by anyone else.

Well, you've clearly begun with peaking my curiosity. WHen you say among other things, do you mean things like animals or things like rocks and plants and stars included. If the idea involves animals, then would the idea be something along the lines of the information we have, how we communicate with it, and the actions they do involve something like 'what you know determines what you think about what someone says and does. What someone does changes what you think about what they say (actions speak louder then words) and what you've heard (see a supposed miser do charity work and realize that they were wrong). What someone talks about effects how you think about what you are informed (the informer misinformed me) an how they act (you see someone who's a jerk to you do charity work and assume he's doing it for wrong reasons)."?
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« Reply #4: June 26, 2010, 04:46:30 pm »

Thank you for your responses, everyone.  I'm sorry it's been a while since I last logged in: I'm on a very tight deadline at work and have been doing a lot of overtime so this has taken a bit of a back seat.

First question - what is your goal?  Is it communication and the sharing of your ideas, or publication, payment .. goal determines method.

I think you've got to the heart of one of my issues there.  I don't need money from it right this minute, but I have had the idea in my head for some years that I'd like to gain a level of flexibility in my life to move house - which having an income from a source like this might help with.  However, in truth the income from one book of this kind would almost certainly be far too little to make a significant difference - so, being realistic, if I ever want or need to make a living from my ideas, I'm going to have to do far more than publish one book.  I think I'll need to become rather entrepreneurial in my approach should this ever happen, probably devising courses, speaking at conferences and so on.  But like many people, I feel like real wisdom should be available to as many people as possible.  The key question is what is "possible"?   As they say, "When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear."

So on balance I think it is right to start to put some of my ideas out there for free, and see what kind of response (if any) I get.  I've got the beginnings of a blog, I just need to do some simple reorganisation and I'll post a link to it here.

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« Reply #5: June 26, 2010, 04:47:31 pm »

We're also always looking for material for the TC newsletter.  If you're interested in publishing an essay or series of essays in the Cauldron & Candle, just PM or email me (moonivy53@gmail.com).  Part of my job is to evaluate submissions for interest, as well as for things like clarity and typos, and to recommend to Randall whether we should publish the material (or not).  I'm always happy to take a look at anything.

Thank you for mentioning this.  I'll see how it goes with feedback from the start of my blog.
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« Reply #6: June 26, 2010, 05:03:26 pm »

Well, you've clearly begun with peaking my curiosity. WHen you say among other things, do you mean things like animals or things like rocks and plants and stars included. If the idea involves animals, then would the idea be something along the lines of the information we have, how we communicate with it, and the actions they do involve something like 'what you know determines what you think about what someone says and does. What someone does changes what you think about what they say (actions speak louder then words) and what you've heard (see a supposed miser do charity work and realize that they were wrong). What someone talks about effects how you think about what you are informed (the informer misinformed me) an how they act (you see someone who's a jerk to you do charity work and assume he's doing it for wrong reasons)."?

Hi Fyreflyes,

I think I've already miscommunicated with you  Smiley  I think better punctuation would perhaps make it more obvious how I intended the clause "about the relationships between information, communication, and action among other things" to be interpreted.  I meant to say "about the relationships between information, communication, and action - among other issues".  I think you probably read "about the relationships between information, communication, and 'action among other things'" instead.

Actually I do mean action in general, and a very generalistic way of considering communication as action (really a generalised notion of speech-act theory as developed by Austin and Searle), but at the same time considering communication as changing the information someone has about the world in some sense which I would hope I can make more precise.  I intend to develop this into an explanation for how we can hold information or knowledge or beliefs "about" "things" outside of ourselves (and the terms in quotes I have put this way because I know they need further explanation).  This leads to a position on issues such as the nature of the Gods, but also on how to learn more effectively, what is creativity and more.

I'll be posting a link to my private blog soon.  It has only got the beginning of the material on it so far, but I'll see how things go with feedback.
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« Reply #7: June 26, 2010, 09:32:38 pm »

Hi Fyreflyes,

I think I've already miscommunicated with you  Smiley  I think better punctuation would perhaps make it more obvious how I intended the clause "about the relationships between information, communication, and action among other things" to be interpreted.  I meant to say "about the relationships between information, communication, and action - among other issues".  I think you probably read "about the relationships between information, communication, and 'action among other things'" instead.

Actually I do mean action in general, and a very generalistic way of considering communication as action (really a generalised notion of speech-act theory as developed by Austin and Searle), but at the same time considering communication as changing the information someone has about the world in some sense which I would hope I can make more precise.  I intend to develop this into an explanation for how we can hold information or knowledge or beliefs "about" "things" outside of ourselves (and the terms in quotes I have put this way because I know they need further explanation).  This leads to a position on issues such as the nature of the Gods, but also on how to learn more effectively, what is creativity and more.

I'll be posting a link to my private blog soon.  It has only got the beginning of the material on it so far, but I'll see how things go with feedback.


I can't wait to understand what your idea is. Curiosity is the thing that I meant will easily get your idea out (I reread what I wrote, and it sounded kind of condescending and/or cocky. Embarrassed )
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« Reply #8: June 27, 2010, 03:27:29 am »

I can't wait to understand what your idea is. Curiosity is the thing that I meant will easily get your idea out (I reread what I wrote, and it sounded kind of condescending and/or cocky. Embarrassed )

Not at all - I didn't read it as negative.  Just curious.

Anyway, here is a link to my blog.  http://thoughtnexus.wordpress.com/

As I say, it is just a beginning so goes nowhere near as far as I've said I'd like to go.
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« Reply #9: June 29, 2010, 10:22:15 am »

Not at all - I didn't read it as negative.  Just curious.

Anyway, here is a link to my blog.  http://thoughtnexus.wordpress.com/

As I say, it is just a beginning so goes nowhere near as far as I've said I'd like to go.

I've heard material somewhat similar to this in 3 different places. In an amazing book I had read a couple of years back, there are philotes. The only difference that I remember was that the philotes only became thicker, and didn't move closer together. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concepts_in_the_Ender%27s_Game_series#Philote

Your idea of there being no self is something that I have heard about from Buddhism for years.

I haven't really heard your idea of (if I'm getting this right) infinite divisibility anywhere, but it reminds me of when a Greek philosopher came up with the idea of an atom, which was derived from the Greek word meaning 'indivisible.' Then nuclear energy's main job was to do that exact thing: divide an atom.
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« Reply #10: July 02, 2010, 05:44:11 pm »

I've heard material somewhat similar to this in 3 different places. In an amazing book I had read a couple of years back, there are philotes. The only difference that I remember was that the philotes only became thicker, and didn't move closer together. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concepts_in_the_Ender%27s_Game_series#Philote

Hmm, that is a very unexpected reaction!  I think, based on your link, that the idea of philotes is (in its fictional world) claiming to be rather more than what I was calling "bits" of the universe.  My "bits" are mathematical abstractions of the infinitesimal, but they aren't really like any "thing" you would normally think of, even something like a subatomic particle.   The trick in mathematics is to talk about the limit of a repeating process of cutting something in half.  Except that the limit takes an infinitely large number of cutting actions.  Which means that in practice it couldn't be done because an infinite number of actions takes forever.  However, we can use mathematics to talk about such "bits" quite effectively.  I've tried to work from this  mathematical abstraction because I want to make as few assumptions about the nature of reality as I possibly can.  So I don't claim any particular properties for "bits".  I don't claim they are  homogeneous, or even easy to categorise into a small number of groups based on their differing properties: in fact I expect they are not.   They can be anything at all, unlike philotes, and they can have any properties and constrain or not constrain any number of other "bits".

Your idea of there being no self is something that I have heard about from Buddhism for years.
I hope that my explanation of things might actually show there is some systematic explanation for why such things are so.

I haven't really heard your idea of (if I'm getting this right) infinite divisibility anywhere, but it reminds me of when a Greek philosopher came up with the idea of an atom, which was derived from the Greek word meaning 'indivisible.' Then nuclear energy's main job was to do that exact thing: divide an atom.

Well, as I said it is really a mathematician's trick.  They talk about limits of infinite processes but of course cannot actually carry out such an infinite process.  Sometimes they can prove what the limit would be of course, which is also part of the trick.  This is not elementary mathematics - but if you have any interest, look at the theory of the real numbers, or something to do with differential calculus.
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« Reply #11: July 25, 2010, 06:31:33 pm »

I'll see how it goes with feedback from the start of my blog.
There has been very little feedback.  I'm now wondering if I'm boring everyone, everyone thinks I'm insufferably arrogant, nobody understands what I'm on about, or what.  I'd appreciate any feedback at all at this point as I'm not sure whether to write more of the same, start all over again with a totally different approach, or what really  Smiley
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« Reply #12: July 25, 2010, 07:14:25 pm »

There has been very little feedback.  I'm now wondering if I'm boring everyone, everyone thinks I'm insufferably arrogant, nobody understands what I'm on about, or what.  I'd appreciate any feedback at all at this point as I'm not sure whether to write more of the same, start all over again with a totally different approach, or what really  Smiley

Complicated subjects seem to get the least feedback.  My Flamekeeping blog got so little in the way of comments that I stopped bothering.  (which was then followed by people complaining I quit, so you can't win).

On my behalf - I bookmarked it then threw my back out, so I haven't read it because I've been in a state of profound dopiness. Sad  Hopefully I'll be able to look at it soon with some brain in my head.
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« Reply #13: July 28, 2010, 04:04:42 pm »

Complicated subjects seem to get the least feedback.  My Flamekeeping blog got so little in the way of comments that I stopped bothering.
I read some of your blog a few weeks back but didn't leave any comments.  I felt that I understood at least some of what you were getting at - what I read as a very deeply personal take on religion which I guess is deliberately freed from the baggage of more well-known approaches.   If you would like my thoughts about anything in particular on there let me know.
On my behalf - I bookmarked it then threw my back out, so I haven't read it because I've been in a state of profound dopiness. Sad  Hopefully I'll be able to look at it soon with some brain in my head.
Sorry to hear about the back injury.  I'll certainly appreciate your thoughts when you are able to give them.
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« Reply #14: September 15, 2010, 10:13:05 am »

There has been very little feedback.  I'm now wondering if I'm boring everyone, everyone thinks I'm insufferably arrogant, nobody understands what I'm on about, or what.  I'd appreciate any feedback at all at this point as I'm not sure whether to write more of the same, start all over again with a totally different approach, or what really  Smiley

I just read through the blog posts and think I understand.  The philosophy/belief at the root of these essays appears to be related to connections between things (objects, if you will) and the fact that even those connections that cannot be strictly perceived (and thus may not be considered real by those involved) can cause reactions that affect the universe...

Am I even close?
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