EXPOSING FAKE LOGIC

 

Chapter 6: Self-Publishing and Other-Publishing

 

 

1.     A bit of history

2.     Weaknesses and abuses of the system

3.     On academe

4.     Publishing attempts

5.     On librarians

6.     On historians

 

 

1.    A bit of history

Publishing a piece of writing means making it public, so as to share its contents, to disseminate it, and in some cases (if it is considered timeless) to perpetuate it. Originally, in ancient times, when an author put his thoughts or ideas down on paper (or any other material medium), he might simply allow or encourage his friends and neighbors, or his pupils or disciples, to read the text, or he might just read it out loud to them. Later, he might have made a copy or two for others, or allowed others to make a copy of his manuscript. Eventually, this gave birth to the profession of copyist, when authors hired scribes to make copies, and usually to bind them. Eventually, this in turn gave rise to the profession of publisher, when an employer hired scribes for diverse authors. Obviously, in view of the difficulties involved, generally not many copies were made, and many works were lost due to this. Copyists still exist today, by the way; for example, they write Torah scrolls.

This state of affairs lasted for centuries, indeed millennia, till the advent of printing. At first, authors went directly to printers to duplicate their works. But soon, no doubt, printers dealt more often with publishers, who thus served as intermediaries between authors and their public. At first, no doubt, authors took charge of distribution, either giving or selling copies of their works to individuals, bookshops, schools or libraries. But eventually, this marketing function was also taken over by publishers. The publishers would thus provide a service, or a set of services, and financially profit; they were businessmen. Sometimes, publishers required payment from the authors for their service; this was eventually called self-publishing. Often, publishers were capitalists, who covered all printing and distributing expenses, and collected all incomes, giving the authors a share of the profits (usually relatively small, but optimistically labeled ‘royalties’).

Obviously, once publishing became a business, the publisher would select the works he considered potentially profitable. Either the author would have to pay a fee for the services rendered, or sales would have to be sufficient to cover costs and yield a profit. The publisher thus became an arbiter of what could and would be published, largely on business grounds. Universities eventually got involved in publishing past or present works they deemed interesting or important. They published not only whole books, but also shorter essays on specific topics, which they might collect in journals or in books. In principle, profit might not be their motive; but they too had usually to look at the bottom line.

In any case, when universities, and indeed, publishers in general, considered material for publication, they would also decide whether it fell in line with their academic standards and beliefs, since their own reputations were at stake. Publishing thus became an authoritarian service. Authors who self-published were gradually regarded as inferior to other-published ones, because they were not given a stamp of approval by acknowledged (“accredited”) publishers. Self-published authors would also probably sell much less, not having the resources of professional publishers at their disposal. For these reasons, authors generally preferred to have their works other-published. Today, the situation has changed a bit due to the emergence of instant online self-publishing. This has been made possible not only because of the Internet, but also thanks to the new technologies of automated printing and binding.

Nowadays, an author can self-publish with a few clicks of his mouse, and the print-on-demand publishing companies then take care of all printing, binding and distribution (including advertising), not to mention the e-book edition, for a very reasonable cut of the profits. Sales occur online as well as through traditional outlets. And of course, there is not even real need for a hardcopy; posting material on a blog or website, in html or pdf or flipbook format, constitute forms of self-publishing. In my opinion, all this may well spell the death soon of traditional publishing, i.e. of publishing through a selective investor, producer and seller. Nevertheless, in the meantime, attitudes have changed little, and a work published through a traditional publisher is still given more credence than one self-published off- or online. This attitude should be vigorously questioned.

 

2.    Weaknesses and abuses of the system

Let us not forget the purpose of it all – the basic purpose of publishing is to get people to read a work. The readership, the type and number of readers a book or journal article musters, is indicative of popularity but not necessarily of quality. Large popularity may generate profits and fame, but is not a sure proof of value and truth. Publication by a prestigious publisher is not sure proof of value and truth; all it does, at best, is show the publisher to be an able investor or speculator. Publishers through their selections of works control the narrative; but this practical power does not logically make them authorities in the theoretical subject at hand.

Many of the very good or great books and articles in the history of philosophy or science were self-published. Not only in ancient history, but also in more recent history. To be self-published should not be regarded as a slight. On the contrary, it should be viewed as a mark of commendable independence and enterprise. Self-published works should be touted as: ‘proudly self-published’. Of course, many books and articles that are other-published are also very good or even great. Conversely, many self-published books or articles are of little or no worth. But it is also true that many books and articles published by publishing houses, even prestigious ones, are found on closer scrutiny to be of very middling worth if not shockingly worthless.

This is testimony to the ignorance, dimwittedness and vanity of many reviewers hired by publishers (or the editors the latter appoint). People who take this job can’t be very intelligent, anyway: if they were, they would have better things to do, namely write their own material; if one is richly creative, one has no time for such sideline occupations. When one is a reviewer, one is generally not obligated to disclose one’s name or qualifications. A reviewer is given great power to control an intellectual dialogue simply by accepting material that conforms to his opinions and refusing that which does not, without any need to publicly argue his case, or any danger of being contradicted and shown up to be ignorant or unintelligent.

So, the reviewer is godlike and authoritative, imposing what he regards as orthodoxy. He will likely reject anything unfamiliar to him, anything above (or of course below) his level of intelligence and knowledge. This pretty well ensures that the lowest common denominator is maintained indefinitely in the field concerned. Of course, there must be some informed and intelligent reviewers out there somewhere, since a lot of good stuff is being published anyway. But go find them; it is a lottery, causing authors much time-waste and vexation.

The publisher won’t contradict his reviewer; he does not know any better himself, which is why he picked (for whatever reason) someone else to do the job. If he has any doubts, he may ask for a second opinion; but all he will get is the same low quality of personnel (and second opinions cost money). All he cares about, at the end of the day, is whether his business flourishes and he gets as much reflected glory as he can. It must be said and should always be remembered that other-publishing is basically a racket for money and power.

The problem is that many authors, who are themselves of lesser ability, need publishers to receive third-party confirmation of the value and truth of what they have written; they are what Ayn Rand has characterized as ‘second-handers’. First-handers know the value and truth of their work; they do not need external confirmation. But second-rate authors feel vindicated and legitimatized when others publish the work they submit to them. There is therefore a strong market for other-publishing from the standpoint of the authors. Personally, I do not feel the need to ‘be published’; it is too much trouble pursuing this goal; I am quite happy with self-publishing.

Authors seeking to be other-published will naturally tailor their views and tone to fit the standards set by the publishers concerned, which are usually the current mainstream views. If they submit a manuscript which is close enough to those standards, but not quite up to them, they may be asked by the reviewers to adjust their position or style as a condition for acceptance; and generally, since they yearn to be published more than they care to defend their opinions, they will comply with the reviewers’ demands. For many academic writers, being published is a necessity for professional survival and advancement. They are basically employees, and are willing to make sacrifices accordingly. Of course, some have no principles to sacrifice; they are glad to be published even if what they wrote is wrong or silly.

(It should be said that some authors need editorial assistance, because they lack the time or cannot be bothered to proofread and their own work, or are perhaps unable to do so because of language difficulties. Such editorial assistance is of course quite legitimate, whether the work is finally other-published or self-published.)

There is also, of course, a strong market for other-publishing from the standpoint of the readers. If the material has been published by some known publishing house, they imagine that this means that competent people have verified it and confirmed its value and truth. This potentially saves the readers time, since they do not have to wade through a work only to discover halfway through it that it is worthless. It also saves them having to think and judge things for themselves; they can rely on the reviews for their opinions. Of course, man is a social animal: following the opinions of others is to some extent part of human nature. For my part, I do not read or judge on such basis.

Needless to say, it is not my purpose here to oppose the practice of peer group review. The idea of peer group review is basically sound, for philosophy as well as for science; but this should be understood to mean free and open public debate of philosophical or scientific theories, and not behind-the-scenes manipulation of information by a privileged minority. Of course, too, I do not deny that publishers of books or journals have every right to select the works they want to publish. But such centralized selection should not be considered decisive; it should not be taken to signal the lack of value or truth of works not selected[1]. Works should be judged by the public on their merits, and not on the basis of who published them.

It should be added that the meme of peer-group review is more appropriate in special fields like mathematics or physics, where there is an overall consensus among participants as to how to settle disputes (e.g. by experiment), than in more general fields like logic and philosophy, where opinions vary much more widely. Consensus in logic and philosophy is theoretically conceivable in some distant future, I suppose; but in practice today it is impossible, due to the fact that there are many participants who do not even admit of rational standards and methods in principle. So, the idea that there might be a peer group that can authoritatively judge works in logic and philosophy is misleading and dishonest. The arbiters in these fields can only be self-appointed mandarins. In truth, they have no intellectual authority; their claim to such authority is a con game.

I shudder to think of the number of great texts that have not been published, and have eventually disappeared from mankind’s literary heritage, or even that have not been written, as a result of the current system of book and journal publishing by an elite. Just think about it… how many great thoughts and discoveries have been thrown into obscurity because the publishers and their chosen gatekeepers had the power to block their publication. This is at least true up to the creation of the Internet; thanks to that, and many allied technologies, most authors are now able to publish their own works in some way or other. But still, think of the waste of human potential and achievement that the other-publishing system is somewhat responsible for.

 

3.    On academe

The world of publishing – as regards logic and philosophy, and of course mathematics and the special sciences, and even general literature – is intimately bound with the academic world, needless to say. Most intellectuals, nowadays, are holders of university degrees, and some continue thereafter to work part- or full-time in or with universities. The authors, reviewers, editors and publishers we are here talking about are mostly college graduates. This is as it should be, since competence, if not excellence, in our fields of choice are what we should all be aiming for.

College degrees of course constitute one level of proof of competence; but this is only an introductory demonstration, which must constantly be renewed and confirmed through written works. Ironically, some written works are admitted by publishers of books or journals mainly on the basis of the authors’ academic credentials. I say ‘ironically’, because this means that the editors or reviewers thus effectively give the responsibility for the decision to the universities; i.e. to other people. But the value of college degrees necessarily depends on the competence of those who dish them out; and the competence of the latter depends on the competence on those who awarded them a degree, and so on, to the founding of universities in the Middle Ages and thereafter.

Thus, ultimately, it is always humans deciding according to their inner capacities; there is in reality no guarantee of competence through a diploma. Even the prestige of the university or faculty staff awarding the diploma cannot be regarded as sure proof of competence. There are many authors out there who have doggedly gone through the motions of the academic curriculum, and thus earned their degree(s), but who in reality are not genuine logicians or philosophers, or whatever they claim to be. Their capacity is attested on paper; but it is not in their blood, in their DNA. They are obligated to routinely churn out papers and even books, to appear active and knowledgeable, but it is evident from what they write that they do not really understand the subject. They know inside themselves that it is so, and that is why they desperately seek confirmation through other-publishing.

The same holds true for the mandarins of the publishing world, i.e. the reviewers, editors and publishers. Their having these jobs, presumably on the basis of their college backgrounds, is not a guarantee of their competence. For these reasons, one must always judge the content of what is written independently of ‘learned’ verdicts. Note well that I am not a relativist; I do believe that some academic texts are better than others and deserve more attention than others. But based on my reading experience it is evident that many texts published as books or as papers in journals are incredibly shallow, and very often filled with obvious empirical and intellectual errors. The authors are, of course, primarily to blame for their sloppy research and thought. But the reviewers, editors and publishers are also much to blame; if they had been intelligent and careful, they would have readily spotted the deficiencies.

I have no intimate knowledge of the publishing world and can only guess how it actually functions. What I do see from the outside is that it is, at least nowadays, closed-minded, petty and gloomy. This is surely not generally true, but it is probably largely true. Some books or journal articles are admittedly excellent, but many are shockingly inferior and most are far too ‘average’. No doubt these adjectives equally apply to the authors behind the texts. Logically, the publishing world cannot be better than the people who compose it; most are unremarkable conformists.

Universities were initially, in the European Middle Ages, until well after the Renaissance, religious institutions, don’t forget. They thought and taught religious dogmas, and any individual who swerved from the authorized doctrine was sanctioned. Sometimes, as in the case of Giordano Bruno, they might be killed off. Some of this doctrinaire mentality has persevered into modern times, even though religion per se is no longer the guiding light. Instead of the “religiously correct,” we are now (in Western countries) ruled by the “politically correct.” Academic authorities may not literally execute dissidents, but they do try to smother them and shunt them aside when it suits them.

In the past few years, many universities seem to be going quite nuts, imposing on their faculty and students some absurd rules of speech and behavior, forbidding free debate, and so on[2]. This is not as in times past a “conservative” trend, but on the contrary now a very “progressive” trend. Its roots are deep in logic and philosophy dating from the very start of the modern era, when reason began to be put in doubt and attacked; but it has taken time to evolve. By the 20th Century, the irrational was considered glamorous, and in the early 21st Century it is virtually sovereign. This naturally affects the other-publishing world, which seems to regard any defense of reason as passé if not downright horrible. Certainly, if an author’s thought does not fit into the world-view of those dominating publishing, he has little chance of being published through them.

Universities in modern times were meant to defend the ideal of knowledge for its own sake, free from the control of powerful groups, be they religious, political or commercial. But this ideal has visibly eroded, and seems less and less likely to survive[3]. It is like the mainstream news media today: the ideals of objective reporting and even-handed editorializing have all but disappeared; nowadays, journalists are in-your-face propagandists, mainly for the ideological postures of the left. The same applies to today’s universities; leftists have gradually infiltrated them and taken them over, and they are rapidly forming students in their twisted image and likeness.

Publishing, being an offshoot of academe, is obediently following the party line in every field. In logic, for instance, this means symbolism and superficiality; in wider philosophy, skepticism and materialism. It matters little whether such conformism is conscious policy or unconscious adherence to postmodern intellectual fashion; what matters is the behavior pattern.

 

4.    Publishing attempts

I did, once in my life, send one of my books to a publisher. I happened to meet, while on vacation abroad back in 1999, an employee of a well-known Dutch publishing house, Kluwer Academic Publishers; and she kindly referred me to one of their young editors, to whom I submitted a copy of my Future Logic (written several years earlier as a Ph.D. dissertation). The book was presumably sent on to some reviewer for consideration, but was returned to me quite soon after (maybe a couple of months later, as I recall) with a refusal.

This is, mind you, a book (several hundred pages long) that boasts of many important discoveries relating to modal categorical and conditional propositions, including a thorough analysis of deductive aspects, culminating in the formalization of induction by generalization and particularization. Yet the reviewer rejected it, without giving me any explanation that would confirm to me he had read it (in the short time he had it in hand) and understood its achievements (yet found them wanting in some way). He was evidently not required to defend his case or give me a chance to defend mine.

Understandably, after this experience, I decided not to submit any of my books to any publishers again, unless of course one came asking me for it (which has not occurred to date). I could not see myself, hat in hand, more or less begging some intellectual inferior to please take a look at my book. I do not write in order to publish, but in order to know. If I do want to publish, it is because I kindly want to help other people (in the present and in the future) to know too. Happily, a couple of years after this episode, the Internet was developed and I started (in 2001) publishing my works online in my own website, TheLogician.net; so, I was finally not prevented from publicly sharing my knowledge.

Another publishing experience of mine was the resort, earlier, in 1997, to professional self-publishing through the Geneva firm of Editions Slatkine. In exchange for a hefty cash prepayment of Sw. Fr. 7’000, this publisher undertook to produce and market 800 copies of my Judaic Logic (written a couple of years before). I was given a small number of free copies and allowed to buy others at a reduced price. My royalties on sales were to be a measly 8% of the sale price, which was unnecessarily high at Sw. Fr. 50, even though I had effectively (I assume) covered the production costs and more, not to mention written the book.

I accepted these harsh terms because I wanted to kick-start my publishing career. But, while two or three hundred copies were sold (I do not remember the exact figure), it soon became clear to me that the publisher was actually making zero effort to market the book. A couple of years later I discovered, after a bookshop told me they had tried unsuccessfully to order a copy or two, that the publisher had in fact recently destroyed 400 copies, leaving only a few dozen copies in stock. I was, upon asking, given some of these copies for free as compensation for my losses; but still, I had not been forewarned, or even been informed after-the-fact.

This experience taught me the vanity of using this paid-for publishing mode; it is exploitation of desperate authors. Maybe that is the real reason why it is called ‘vanity publishing’.

With regard to journals of logic or philosophy, I have made no attempts to publish any articles in them during my career. I did actually send an extract of my book Judaic Logic, soon after its publication by Slatkine, to the editors of a small Israeli journal called Higayon, and they kindly immediately published it; but apart from that have made no efforts in that direction, although I have dozens or maybe hundreds of essays I could have submitted. I did recently submit, after being invited to do so by the editor, a paper based on my work A Fortiori Logic (2013), but this was rejected, due I suspect to its criticism (albeit very mild) of Talmudic logic[4].

More recently, I was invited to submit a paper for a collection to be published by Springer. The paper I submitted (the same paper as above) was apparently welcomed by the editors, but I had to withdraw it when I found out that the publisher refused to sign a legal document acknowledging my continued ownership of the copyright. In other words, the publisher was not satisfied with my lending him a work of mine free of charge; but wanted me to give up ownership of it! Apparently, some authors are willing to get used like this, out of sheer vanity.

Brief essays of mine have been other-published (in 2010) in a couple of collections, one called Logic in Religious Discourse and the other called Judaic Logic (not to confuse with my earlier book with the same name), following invitation to contribute by their editor. But frankly, I found the interaction with the editor rather unpleasant and the final product embarrassing. Many of the contributions in these collections, and indeed in many of the journals currently being published that I have looked at, even prestigious ones, are so low-level that I prefer to remain out of them. Call me conceited, but I do not perceive most of the editors or most of the other contributors as my “peers.” Really, I think my works deserve better platforms.

Happily, the Internet again came to my aid, with the advent of instant self-publishing through firms like Lulu.com and CreateSpace.com, who provide a print-on-demand service to individual online buyers. The author uploads a text file, chooses the desired format and cover, decides on pricing, and presto! the book is published. There’s no long wait as occurs in other-publishing; and further benefits are that one can update the text at will, one has immediate sales statistics, and the book is never out of print. This is definitely the way of the future in my view: no interfering intermediaries between the author and eventual readers, in a fair and transparent business deal. The author concentrates fully on writing, without having to worry about publishing. I started publishing my works like this in 2008, and have found the experience very rewarding. I recommend it.

 

5.    On librarians

To be sure, some people resist progress, and insist on viewing self-publishing as a medium good only for second-rate writers. In truth (I read the figures once, but I have forgotten them) only a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands (or is it millions?) of works written every year are other-published. Most books submitted to publishing houses are rejected. After all, they are in it as a business venture; they cannot be expected to publish all written material, the market is simply not that lively. Even if they are subsidized by private or public monies, subventions are never unlimited. Similarly, I would say (without seeing statistics), most papers submitted to journals are left out of them; they have to be. This should not be taken to mean that what is published is necessarily the cream of what is written; what is published is, in truth, what the publishers believe will sell and generate profits for them, or at least will increase their prestige in some way. It is, objectively speaking, a reflection of their opinions, and not, as many people seem to think, a sure criterion of quality or veracity.

In 2014, I decided to spend a few thousand dollars distributing copies of my main books to many university and public libraries in the world (mainly English-speaking countries, but not only). I thought: why wait for them or their readers to discover my works? I’ll speed the process up by making them readily available to present and future researchers, students and general readers, free of charge. Actually, I have been sending free copies to a few libraries every time I write a new book, to make sure that, should something happen to me, the work lives on. But here, what I had in mind was a more systematic and widespread dissemination effort, made possible by online print-on-demand services. I had CreateSpace.com produce and send several hundred books to over a hundred libraries.

Most of the libraries seem to have welcomed the material contributions to their collection, and duly catalogued them; but to my surprise some did not. For instances, a library in South Africa, and another in Lausanne, Switzerland, told me, when I asked them why they had not catalogued them, that they had destroyed the copies they got offhand, because they were self-published. Another librarian, at Tel Aviv university, mockingly pretended to refuse my books because they did not have a bibliography; when I pointed out that A Fortiori Logic did not need a bibliography, being a study where every author on the subject is not only mentioned but also analyzed within the text, she simply did not reply, and did not change her mind (as I expected). I find such ignorance and stupidity plainly evil.

After all, what is the function of libraries, and particularly of university libraries, if not to respectfully collect and preserve knowledge, and make it available to all comers? They are supposed to be custodians and transmitters of knowledge. How is it that someone, who probably knows close to nothing of logic or philosophy, or maybe has some knowledge but no time to read many books so as to evaluate them, has the chutzpah to refuse gift books merely because they are self-published? I cannot understand this mentality. It is true that libraries have limited space and must therefore be selective; but is self-publishing in itself a sufficient reason for exclusion? Note that in the case of the TAU library, this could hardly have been the case, since they already had copies of most of my books, and I was only asking them to use the more recent editions; they kept the old editions and refused the better new ones. Clearly, there is an irrational prejudice at play, or at least disgraceful laziness.

Once again, however, the Internet has come to the rescue. Digital libraries like the Internet Archive and Google Books, to name but two that I have used, have vowed to collect the totality of human knowledge in their online libraries. This is really a fantastic contemporary initiative. Surely, all human writings are interesting in some way or the other, as creations of the human race, and should be perpetuated for present and future use or even merely as curiosities.

In antiquity, thanks to the famous Library of Alexandria, many valuable works (and no doubt also many less valuable ones) were made available and preserved for centuries. Unfortunately, when barbarian hordes destroyed it, many of these works were lost forever to mankind. Let’s hope that today’s digital libraries are not someday likewise destroyed in some nuclear holocaust. I hope the people in charge of them are taking all necessary precautions, with backups in different locations and the lasting technology to read the memory contents.

 

6.    On historians

This brings me to the subject of histories and encyclopedias of philosophy, including logic. What is the task of historians? It is surely to observe and show, to survey, comprehend, and summarize, to the best of their abilities, the real state of affairs in the world of logic and philosophy, at any and every given time and over time. This is a sacred task, when it relates to logic and philosophy, because this field aims for a cumulative total, including for consideration all thought to date, and not like (say) physics for the latest results, leaving behind the past as mere curio.

The job of historians of logic and philosophy is not in principle selective, though of course all historiography may well be critical. Historians should not ignore or discard material, simply because it does not fit into their own view of things at the time concerned; they are duty bound to be exhaustive, and to compare and contrast everything, in order to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their study. They should look for, find out, record and understand what has actually been proposed in the field researched, and not merely what suits a certain ideology or group. They may, of course, express doubt or disagreement with some of it, provided they give their reasons for such criticism. But in the latter case, they are entering the fray as involved participants in the great public debates of logic and philosophy; they are not acting as detached observers.

The following anecdote illustrates this reflection. Having read a few articles in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and found them wanting, I wrote (this was in 2016) to the editor so as to draw his attention to some my works. I first pointed out the absence of an article on a fortiori argument, and recommended my book on the subject. He kindly answered me as follows:

 

“Thanks for your message and for the suggestion. Unfortunately, the SEP has limited resources; we don’t charge our readers for the high-quality academic content that we deliver freely on the Internet, and the key to our survival therefore is to operate on a small budget. So we can’t have entries on every concept or person that is deserving. One of the important criteria for commissioning an entry has to do with whether the topic is of central importance to current academic philosophers, as evidenced by a large and active literature on the topic for which it would be useful to have an introduction. I’m afraid that an entry on a fortiori argument doesn’t meet our criteria. Sorry the news isn’t better. Thanks for your understanding.”

 

While I found his reference to budgetary limitations understandable, I found his reference to “whether the topic is of central importance to current academic philosophers” much less convincing, as it seems to exclude in advance all innovation that has not captured the fancy of the well-placed few. This is a formula for stagnation; it is bureaucratic and lacking in initiative. So, I replied: “There are a lot of new ideas and approaches in my works on various logical and philosophical topics, yet unknown to most academics,” and I gave him as example my latest essay of the Russell Paradox, adding a link to it and a brief abstract of its contents. He replied:

 

“If you get your work published in accredited, peer reviewed, philosophy/logic journals or by similarly-accredited book publishers, our authors will then have an obligation to consider the value of your work and the likelihood of it being cited in the SEP will increase.”

 

To which I replied: “No – I won’t do it, ever,” and then explained my negative views concerning book publishers and journals (roughly as above done in the present essay, but much more briefly), concluding: “What I expect is that people like your authors, who are no doubt sincerely interested in progress in logic and philosophy, to make the effort to look at the actual field out there (not just the conventional in-group) and see what is going on really. How can they claim to write a history of philosophy, when they ignore very relevant material? Is their history a history of familiar names and thoughts, or a history and objective account of what is really happening here and now? Are they true historians or just make-believe historians?”

I went on: “I have pointed you towards my 2013 essay on the Russell paradox. This is just one example among many. How can the SEP article on the Russell paradox be credible if you have not checked out this novel and significant contribution to the subject? Look and see for yourselves – that is your job, to seek and find what is really being said out there.”

I also referred him to my book Hume’s Problems with Induction, pointing out that it is of great relevance to many articles in SEP, since I show in it that “the so-called Problem of Induction, which has so deeply and negatively affected modern Western (particularly Anglo-Saxon and German) philosophy from the start, is just a load of sophistry, instead of which we should be teaching the Principle of Induction.” I added: “This is just one topic treated in this book. Read the table of contents – everything in it is new and important. If your historians do not read this, and claim to describe philosophy as it has been to this day, they are failing in their vocation. Look at it yourself and judge for yourself.”

I went on: “Again… look at The Logic of Causation. For the first time in the history of philosophy, someone has written a systematic work on the logic of causation (over ten years), covering every possible form of causative argument! And thus incidentally proving once and for all that skepticism about causation is based on ignorance. This cannot be put in a mere journal article – it can only be put in a massive and very technical book, which most people are too lazy to read and study, so that publishers will not publish it because they know it won’t sell. That has nothing to do with the value of its content” (bold added now). I of course gave him links to these books, and even offered to send him paper copies of them at my expense. After that, he did not reply to me anymore; no doubt he did not like my comment about “make-believe historians.”

Note well my argument to him, which I reiterate here: there can be no excuse for alleged historians not-doing the necessary research when preparing an article for an encyclopedia, or a journal or a book, on the accumulated thought regarding a certain logical or philosophical topic. If they willfully bypass work that is actually present on the market of ideas, if they are lazy and do not even bother to read it if it is not published by what they regard as an “accredited” publisher, they are not real historians, but merely rapporteurs of the current philosophical clique and their tired clichés. This is unscientific on their part; it results in fake history.

Such pseudo-historians do not think and judge for themselves, but give other people (a selection of book and journal publishers that they refer to for a relevant research material) the responsibility to do so in their stead, paying no attention to the tortuous ways of a publishing business which is not focused on history. Who, after all, are these “accredited” geniuses that they have so much faith in? Just unremarkable, conventional people, themselves “accredited” by other unremarkable, conventional people, and so on ad nauseam.

Of course, I do understand the reluctance of the editor to engage in independent research. The ideal presented here of an all-inclusive effort by historians of human thought is so enormous that it is virtually impossible. It is certainly not something that any individual can do in a single lifetime, or even many individuals in many lifetimes. Therefore, in practice historians are very selective, and their selections are mostly second-hand.

This was recently brought home to me when I received a very aggressive e-mail from someone, demanding that I read his work, to which he gave me a link[5]. Although very busy with my own writing, I followed the link very briefly and was amazed to see it included thousands of pages of complex diagrams and formulas. Obviously, it would take someone years to read all that, let alone verify the truth and value of what is said. I wrote back to the guy, telling him I simply did not have the time to do that. He was very angry with me and I had a hard time getting him off my back. This made me better understand why editors are so unwilling to consider unknown work; the needed investment of human resources is just too much.

Maybe one day this issue will be resolved, or at least facilitated, through artificial intelligence. Or maybe some billionaire will finance such a massive project, putting thousands of idle college graduates to work. Meanwhile, without a doubt, many valuable and even important works will remain in obscurity, cruelly lumped together with many valueless ones. And many valueless works will continue to be given more attention than they really deserve, because editors and historians prefer to deal with familiar material that others have already approved of.

 

 



[1] Note also that authors who self-publish are not only often held in low esteem and mocked for that reason, but also sometimes plagiarized by other-published authors, who imagine them as having no copyright protection since they do not exist in the ‘official’ world they inhabit.

[2] Do read some of the hair-raising articles posted on this blog on current events in universities: https://www.blazingcatfur.ca/category/batshit-crazy-universities/.

[3] It will definitely die for centuries if not forever if Islam is allowed to prevail in the West. But even without the Islam factor, it seems doomed thanks to rampant progressivism.

[4] See chapter 5 of the present book, where this episode is described and discussed in more detail.

[5] Here is the link for those interested: https://archive.org/details/AUL070416. The author is called John Clark and he describes his work as “a universal language”. Don’t ask me what it is worth: I have not examined it.

2021-03-05T13:16:49+02:00