Introduction to the Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek
1. What it is
2. Why it is bi-lingual
3. Why it exists
4. What is special about it
5. What assumptions
went into it
my Philosophical Dictionary is not called Encyclopedia
for the philosophically or logically naive
note on my language
9. Moral summary of
of the Philosophical Dictionary
1. What it is
Dictionary is a hypertext
of alphabetically arranged terms and ideas in English
or Dutch that relate to philosophy. That it is a hypertext means that there are many links
between the entries, so that one can easily read through it
non-linearly and as one likes.
The entries state what
I thought when I wrote them and are dated at the end,
and the whole dictionary expresses my own ideas, knowledge and
values, and seems to be the best way to present these systematically.
The basic principle of
this concerns text read with the help of a computer in
which there are links in text or pictures that when clicked
directly pop up another text or picture.
There are many links
and many interrelations, and to understand all of the
Dictionary you must at least have read all of it.
Links are underlined, like so: Help.
This enables another way of reading
through large hypertexts made up of many files, such as the
Philosophical Dictionary, because one needs to spend no time finding
things, and each new subject can be given its own file, and be written
and maintained apart from the rest of the hypertext, and
may be linked at any convenient term or place to any part of all the files that
make up the hypertext. Top.
Why it is bi-lingual
The Dictionary is
bi-lingual, namely in English and in Dutch, with some but not much
overlapping, and there are indexes restricted to English entries
and to Dutch
The reason it is
bi-lingual is in part that I am, and in part that especially in the
Dutch parts I allow myself to be satirical, since there is much cause
for satire of Holland and the Dutch, that is best done in Dutch. Top.
3. Why it
The reason for me to write the Philosophical Dictionary -
which is an ongoing project that started July 7, 2004 - is that it
seems the best and probably only way to formulate and present my own
ideas about philosophy, logic, science, humanity, civilization, ethics
and related matters.
This is connected with my health, which has been bad now
since 26 years, and the discrimination and total lack of help I have
had to face in Holland - where I am unfortunate
enough to live - "because of your outspoken
opinions, in spite of your serious disease", as
the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam wrote when they
removed me from the university for the second time, briefly before
taking my M.A. in philosophy there, and unlike any other Dutchman apart
from what happened during World War II. Eventually, I
received a brilliant M.A. degree in psychology - summa cum laude - from
the same institution, but not thanks to the Board of Directors. The main reason I was removed were my protests about the
then current Postmodernism. Top.
What is special about it
Dictionary is a means
for stating my own ideas
and values in a comprehensive,
easily accessible, and more or less complete way, and it is, including most of its
satirical asides, quite serious in intent.
Also, it is not merely
a large set of interrelated ideas of a philosophical kind, but also it
is the most systematic way in which a serious philosopher can explain
his own thoughts: In effect, by explaining his own language and
terms, and use these to state his explanations of things.
There are more special
things about my Philosophical Dictionary, one of which is its scope,
which is wider than academic philosophy, but I only want to remark here
on one obvious feature and its main reason, namely that it is
bi-lingual, since it is in English and in Dutch. Also I want to briefly
remark on the fact that the Dictionary is actively being written, as it
were under your very eyes.
The main language is
English, but there are many Dutch entries, that may tend to be more
satirical than the English part, though this too is not free from
satire and sarcasm. The reason for my Dutch satires and sarcasms is my
treatment in Holland, that is considered elsewhere on this site in
Dutch. See "ME in Amsterdam".
And something the
serious reader should keep in mind - for the time being, at least, and
until the Dictionary is nearly finished - is that it is actively being
written, rewritten and updated. I'm trying to explain my own ideas, and
try to do so in a consistent and coherent way, but I am certain to make
mistakes and certain to repair those that I have found. Top.
What assumptions went into it
as well indicate here briefly what my background assumptions are: My
own general conception of philosophy is realistic and analytic
- by which I mean that I presume that there is one
reality in which all things that exist do exist and that the generally
best way to philosophize and try to find rational beliefs is by logical
analysis, and in most things that have to do with
theoretical philosophy I am a scientific realist:
that there is a real world of
which everybody is part, and about which one can find knowledge, and
this is best done by scientific
methods, which mostly amount to a combination of free discussion
and creative imagination controlled by logic and experiment. A
brief introduction is in my Natural
Why my Philosophical Dictionary is not called Encyclopedia
Although it is quite
large, it is not called an encyclopedia for three reasons.
First, because the
only comprehensiveness it aims at is as a survey of my own ideas,
definitions of terms and assumptions of rules, plus such background as
is necessary to explain these.
Second, because there is at least one good Encyclopedia
of Philosophy on paper, namely the one edited by Paul Edwards,
and there is also at least one rather good internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy, that does pretend some sort of comprehensiveness, namely
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Both were or are being written by many specialists,
and both are - mostly - in the analytical and scientific tradition in
which I also write. (I like the Edwards's Encyclopedia better than the
more recent Stanford one, though.)
Third, because a
proper philosophical encyclopedia, like the ones just mentioned, are
the product of the cooperation of many specialists, each of whom tries
to summarize the main ideas about his specialism, in a fairly objective
and adequate way, without trying to be original other than in
scholarship. By contrast, many of my ideas, definitions and rules are
original, and my main reason for writing my Philosophical Dictionary is
to explain these and give them a background. Top.
Warning for the philosophically or logically naive
Although apart from
such places where I am satirical, my intent when writing this
Philosophical Dictionary is quite serious, and although I believe most
entries are genuinely informative and true to the best of my knowledge,
persons who do not know much about the topics I write about are
recommended to consult also other dictionaries or
encyclopedies. The ones I mentioned in the previous section are quite
sources is wise in any case, if you want good
or at least balanced information, and is recommended here because what
you get in my Philosophical Dictionary are my ideas and
my formulations - and obviously I am one person
only, and my aim when writing this Dictionary is not quite the
same as that of other writers of other philosophical dictionaries or
In fact, I write my
Dictionary because it seems to be the only way, given my health,
to write out most of my ideas in an accessible format, that should be
comprehensive and self-explanatory when completed.
This also means that
for the time being, and probably at least till 2010, everything
in the Dictionary is provisional and a first version, and stands in a
context where the parts explain and support each other, and where
everything necessary to understand all is given by the whole work, when
completed - and it is especially in this sense that it is like an
ordinary dictionary, since that also contains and uses the terms and
ideas it defines and explains.
A note on my language
I try to write a clear
and natural style, and I try to avoid the mannerisms and cant that mark the academic or indeed
"No style is good that is not fit to be spoken or
read aloud with effect."
What can be explained,
can be explained clearly and with style - though this may be difficult,
and may involve some unavoidable technical terms. And in any case,
whatever the subject and whomever the writer: What has not been
explained clearly, has not been explained well or at all; and what
cannot be explained to a human audience of sincere, intelligent,
rational and informed human beings, cannot be explained humanly at all,
as far as current knowledge and capacities go.
Indeed, I hold that
whomever cannot write clearly and well about philosophy is not fit to
write it. On this rock founders many a philosophy, deservedly: Abstruse
philosophy is cant.
here is what Voltaire, who wrote a Philosophical Dictionary, wrote about
Bayle, who did the same earlier, though not under that
"Would to God
that Bayle had been drowned along with the rest of the heretical Dutch!
He sets forth things with such an odious accuracy, and puts the
arguments for both sides before us with such shocking impartiality and
is so intolerably intelligible that he puts even those of the most
meagre understanding in a position to judge and even to doubt what is
Also, I may be on
occasion quite sarcastic, satirical or ironical, certainly far more
than (would be) academic
philosophers dare to afford if they want tenure. My main reason is
that there is much in philosophy an intelligent rational man only can
react to with scorn, disdain, or contempt, not only because much of it
consists of, - in Hume's words - quite obvious "sophistries and
illusions", but also because so much second to hundredth rate
philosophy and philosophers have become the tools for cruel
dictatorships, mass murder, persecution and discrimination. (See: Communism, Fascism, Feminism, Marxism,
Correctness, Postmodernism, Totalitarian).
Moral summary of the work
It is always right to try to think rationally and try
to act reasonably.
"It is wrong always,
everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient
Limitations of the Philosophical Dictionary
I believe my Dictionary
to have strengths that other dictionaries and encyclopedias of
philosophy lack, but it should be noted that it also has two
limitations, next to being the product of one mind only - although this
also has its advantages for discerning minds:
First, as noted in the
above sections 3, 4 and 6
the Philosophical Dictionary exists primarily to become a vehicle for
my ideas, values and formulations.
And second, at least for
the time being, and until well in 2010, at least: The Dictionary is in
the process of being written (if mostly using existing materials), and
certainly in the first years of its existence all entries into
it are provisional first versions.
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