About the IFAQ site

Baroque ceiling      Why did I create this site?

1) To provide a show-place for my ideas
2) To find like-minded thinkers I could exchange ideas with
3) To create a modern agora where ideas can be exchanged and discussed
4) To give others a venue for their ideas
5) To present the best ideas of eminent thinkers and schools of thought.

This site is not concerned with information or knowledge. As for 'truth', that is a big word and it makes me nervous. I like to think that what I seek and what IFAQ is about is understanding. The aim is to articulate our understanding of basic aspects of the world and to benefit from others' thinking.

I would like to see each strand become an interplay of diverse points of view. Of course it will be a perpetual work in progress, with no final closure.

As for bias, well we all have it. All I can say in my defence is that I do not subscribe to any religion, ideology, or unitary model of the universe or of the mind. Having done my share of reading, I have a basic distrust of all models, gurus and schools of thought. However, I try to learn something from anyone I read.

Obviously, even the choice of what questions are most basic is in itself a bias. I believe the only way we can diminish our own bias is by listening carefully and trying to learn from the ideas of other people, in particular by trying to see why others see things differently. Hence I welcome others to publish their thoughts here.

I'm not an authority on anything (with the possible exception of wasting time), but if something interests me and I don't understand it, I write an article on it. That way others can be as mystified by it as I am. Seriously, though, my prime aim is clarity.

Do I have a right to write this stuff? You be the judge. Any feedback, positive or negative, will be gratefully received. If you can spot an error in my reasoning, find a counter-example, or take the exposition a step further, that would be most welcome.

My approach is to try to understand basic questions about philosophy, psychology and the world at large using rationality and common sense in order to create a coherent picture. Remember, however, that only children and madmen are consistent!

Since precision diminishes clarity, I try to focus on the latter at the expense of the former. At this point, visitors imbued with the mind-set of academia are likely to click the 'back' button on their browser. Mine is not an academic or hair-splitting approach but a broad and synthetic one.

The charter is to avoid reductionism (see definition below) on the one hand, and woolly or wishful thinking on the other. To combine the technical resources of rationality with humanities-based thinking in order to address the most basic questions, not only of our time, but of all time. OK, I know this is ambitious in the extreme, but if we don't do it, who will?

The aim is not to settle the questions to our satisfaction - this will not happen! - but to open up intelligent debate and to present first-class ideas, both from us, the contributors, and from eminent thinkers of the past and present.

My definition of a reductionist is: Someone who claims that a complex or high-level phenomenon is "nothing but" the sum of its simple or low-level parts. The reductionist attempts to do away with a high level of description, replacing it with a lower one. For instance, Marx attempted to explain all social evils, and indeed all history, in terms of a single factor - economics. Freud was another prominent reductionist. He attempted to explain human psychology at first in terms of repressed sexuality, and later as the interplay of the life and death instincts. (See footnote.) Another example are those feminists who see male-female relationships exclusively in terms of power relations.

I am looking for people like me - people who are interested in ideas and who like to write about them. The focus is on the big picture, rather than on narrow topics, though if you have something intriguing to say on a specialised matter it may well be of interest. Since I want to bring together the scientific and the humanities polarities that presently divide our culture, I am interested in hearing from both sides of the divide. If you are somewhere in the middle, that is even better.

This site will be dead unless you, the visitor, respond. It can be your site too! If you believe, as I do, that the Net should not be like TV, where millions of consumers passively soak up what a few creative people dole out to them, then please do your bit. Don't be bashful.

Please submit your pet theory, philosophy of life, manifesto or brilliant idea. I don't have to agree with it, but if it is well argued then I will consider it favourably. If you are one of those who likes to "ponder the imponderable" then please email me. If the bottom of your drawer holds a manuscript you failed to publish, please give this site a try. If all you want to say is expressed in a few sentences that is fine too. Anything related to one of the pages on this site will be welcome. If you want to pose a question you would like to see answered, that is fine also.

All submissions will be either accepted or given a specific reason for non-acceptance. Unlike most magazine editors, I will not just dismiss your piece with, "It's unsuitable". However, please do not take it personally if your material is not accepted. You can always start your own website. After all, that is exactly what I have done. Please mention your copyright requirements, if any, when submitting. You may submit anonymously if you wish. There will be no payment.

If you have an intellectually oriented website and would like to exchange links then please send me your URL. In most cases I will be happy to link to your site. (Nazis and fundamentalists need not apply.)


Footnote
A Pakistani correspondent pointed out that Marx and Freud made huge contributions to human thought. I agree. They recognised the importance of previously ignored factors, and this is a real achievement. I did not mean to belittle these two great figures. What I meant to say is that with the wisdom of hindsight we can now say that both Marx and Freud focused too much on one or two factors, while ignoring others. We can see things more broadly, indeed I think we are obliged to, as we have much more to draw on, since human thought has continued to advance. It is important to acknowledge the contributions Marx and Freud made in their time, and it is unfair to criticise them for not taking a broader view. This is for us to do.

Please send feedback to "tad@soler 7.com" - this email address has an extra space - please remove it if you want to email me. I have done this little trick to avoid being targeted by automated spammers, as opposed to nice people like you.


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