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About This Book

This volume comprises essays on phenomenology and related topics, written in the years 1990, 1997-8 and 2002-3. (Some of them were wholly or partly on display in The Logician web site in 2000-3.)The volume was expanded a little in the years 2004-5.

My interest in phenomenology dates from the very beginning of my interest in philosophy. I was to start with, like everyone else at first, a “naïve realist” – until on a winter’s day in 1970-1, in a cheap flat in Montreal, when the full weight of the critique of that Lockean posture by Descartes, Hume and Kant struck me. Soon after, I realized that the answer to such doubts was simply that ‘reality’ and ‘illusion’ have a common ground – namely, that they bothappear– and many things can be thought and said about things already on this level, that of ‘appearance,’ prior to any judgment as to whether that which has appeared is real or illusory. This insight has stayed with me ever since, protecting me against all sorts of silly philosophies. It was an important theme of my doctoral dissertation,Future Logic, many years later (in 1990).

In 1997-8, being unemployed, I followed various courses at Geneva University. Courses in philosophy, linguistics, psychology and astronomy. Some of the lecturers taught me new things; others caused indignation in me for the errors they passed on to their students. In either case, I wrote more notes, and some of these have ended up as part of this book. Another stimulant for this book was my increased personal interest in meditation in the last few years. This revived a long dormant interest in Buddhism. WritingJudaic Logic(1995) caused my thinking on religious issues to mature greatly, so that I could no longer read any text without being vigorously critical. So in 2002, reading a text on the “logic” of Nagarjuna, I was naturally confident and strong enough to quickly and easily produce myBuddhist Illogic. Simultaneously, I wrote the main chapters of the present book, bringing my writing on phenomenological questions in line with my current thinking.

The patient reader will surely find some important philosophical insights in the present volume. One general recommendation, dear reader, read my footnotes – they are, in my way of writing, an integral part of the text!

Much of my writing starts in the way of handwritten notes on scrap paper. A stray thought, a reflection while reading a book or after a verbal exchange with someone, is hastily committed to paper, knowing I will not remember it long. How many times have I lost what seemed like ‘the answer to everything’ because I took too long to put it in writing! The small slips pile up over the years, some apparently containing very important insights, others perhaps a mere word worth using one day. Once in a while, I will sort these notes into different folders, without regard to their temporal sequence but with reference to their main subject-matter – “general logic,” “causation,” “phenomenology,” or whatever. Occasionally, suddenly inspired or intent on discipline, I take up one or two of these folders, and start transcribing the notes into my computer. Of course, the original note is telegraphic in style, limited by the size of the piece of paper it was written on. The moment I transcribe a sentence, it grows. I naturally start developing the discussion, reviewing the initial thought more critically, expanding upon it. More notes are brought to bear. And thus an essay is born. When I have accumulated a set of essays, these in turn have to be harmonized before they make up a book. This task again stimulates an intellectual effort, further research, thinking a bit more about some topics, restructuring texts.