Archive for May, 2011

Taking an Outside Perspective

May 30, 2011 2 comments

For philosophical thinking, it is important to take an outside perspective. To project yourself as an onlooker of overall happenings. I do not buy into thinking that suggests our personal, internal experience is the be-all to end-all. Indeed, everything we experience is experienced through our subjective minds. If I look at a rock, that rock gets translated by our minds and what we experience is a (subjective) interpretation of such rock. This does not mean that such rock does not exist in reality, or that our subjective experience of the rock is not evidence for the rock and various qualities of such rock existing in the objective sense. For philosophy, we need to focus on what that objective rock is. The reality of it.

But rocks are not the big concern. Rather, the larger concern is with life. In particular, life that has the capacity to feel. As philosophers, we need to take an unbiased approach. I can hear it now from the subjectivist camp – but ‘Trick, all experience is subjective and hence biased. I am not arguing against that. But like the rock, there is a reality. And like the rock, we can use our intellectual and perceptual mechanisms that translate into subjective and inter-subjective experiences to come to understandings of objective reality. We can take an outside perspective that looks beyond various biases.

Even our subjective experiences are an objective configuration being played out through time. A causal happening. As philosophers, we should not focus on what our subjective biases dictate, but rather on the possible qualities of these objective play-outs for every creature that experiences them. What does each objective configuration mean?  If applying them to something like a moral system, can such configuration be considered inherently bad to the creature that has to endure it? Questions of these sorts. Questions about the overall picture.

Imagine yourself hovering above the earth looking down on what is going on. Detach yourself from personal bias. Look beyond your bias for cute fluffy animals at the expense of ugly smelly ones. Look beyond your bias of what is good for your friends and family at the expense of people you do not know and never will. Look beyond your biases, preferences, and desires of beauty, taste, smell, sounds, race, religion, specie, nation, sex, language, wealth, and so on. Look beyond those desires instilled in you through long evolutionary lines. Look beyond those biases instilled in you through your upbringing.

Even if our experiences and understandings are filtered through our subjectivity, we can still disregard those biases that truly prevent us from taking an outside perspective. Once on the outside of all of these subjective biases, we can have much clearer understandings of the objective reality that exists, which means we can have a clearer understanding of the problems that exist and the solutions to those problems.

What does the world look like from the outside? Where are the most logical improvements to be made?

A Causal Posting About the Word Acausal

For my book, I had to decide on the word to use for an event without a cause. My options were “uncaused”, “non-causal”, “not causal”, and “acausal”. I ultimately, with much hesitation, decided on acausal. Each had their own issues. I ruled out “not causal” as “not causal event” and “not caused event” did not sound right. They did not flow. Non-causal sounded a little better, but not by much. It came down to “uncaused event” and “acausal event”. Since I wanted to use “causal event” for an event that was caused, it seemed to make sense to stay consistent and use “acausal event” since “uncausal event” did not seem to work.

I was concerned that the a- prefix might be confusing, but felt that people would become accustomed to the word quickly, and once they did it would be a better fit. There is no lack of defining and explaining what the word means in my book, and I repeat it in the beginning through different means. The a- prefix for the most part means: absence of, without, or lack of. An acausal event would be an event that is “without cause”. I think people who are not familiar with the word will catch on easily.

What is your take on using the a- prefix in this case? Should I have used “uncaused” instead?

10 Reasons I’m Considering Indie Publishing

While writing my book Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind I though long and hard about how I want to publish it. At first I figured I would take the traditional publishing route. As I began researching the different publishing routes and the direction they are heading, that mindset has changed. I researched every site, podcast, and video I could find. I’ve read every book I could get my hands on. Here are 10 reasons why I am leaning toward the Indie Publishing route:

1 ) I don’t want to give up creative control. This by far is the most important reason to consider indie publishing. I desire control over the way my book looks and how it informs. I want to illustrate the book myself. I want to create the cover myself. I do not want someone to tell me I have no say over what the cover of my book looks like. I have seen way too many covers for philosophical books from conventional publishers that look horrible. I want creative control over all of the content in the book.

2 ) I want control over the pricing of my book. I do not want a publisher to price my book in an unaffordable range. I want my book to be cost accessible to all people. I also firmly believe that the ebook version should cost much less that the paperback. Though I think my books content very valuable, I would rather charge lower prices for more readership. I want control over this balancing act.

3 ) Ebooks are becoming popular. Ebook readers such as the Kindle and Nook are becoming more popular each day resulting in more online purchases rather that physical bookstore purchases. Certainly ebooks have not taken over as of yet, but I see this happening in the near future. I work in the technology industry and have the ability to format my book for various ebook readers.

4 ) Technologies are making it easier to indie publish.  Print on demand is now a viable way for people to sell hardcopies of their book. More importantly, they only get printed when purchased, meaning less trees are killed. An environmentally conscious decision. My book may not be on a physical bookshelf, but many traditionally published books are hidden in the back or have a very short shelf life in bookstores anyway.

5 ) The publishing industry is changing quickly. People are beginning to buy books based on reader reviews, rather than if a large publishing company decides to take it on. If a book is good, the reviews will be good, and more people will read it. If it is not so good, the reviews will be poor, and it will not sell well. This is a better way to disseminate the quality of a book rather than if a few people in a large corporation think a book worthy. The movie and music industry is already taking this approach.

6 ) I want to own my work. I want control over the rights of my book. I want to be able to sell my book where I want and how I want. If I want to give my book away, even if for a promotional time period, I want the right to do that at anytime. I don’t want a publishing company to decide when to take my book out of print.

7 ) Others are making it as indie publishers. There is evidence that self publishing can and does work for many. A few are making more than most traditional publishers. See Amanda Hocking for an example of a fiction writer who made it big indie publishing ebooks. Traditional publishing does not mean your book will make it. In fact, you need to do much of the marketing yourself taking the traditional route now-a-days, with less profit, selling a higher priced book.

8 ) I want to put out the book when I am done with it. The process of obtaining an agent, and then a publisher can take a year or longer, and the process can take a year or two after that until it is finally published. This is all time in which my book can be out and I could be building readership for it.

9 ) Indie publishing is losing the negative stigma it once had. Mindsets are changing, and indie publishing is being equated with indie films and indie music. The Internet has brought forth a new dynamic for people to disseminate a quality product from a poor one, and that dynamic is only getting better.

10 ) I want the ability to create a new edition easily. Having control over the book means that if there is new information that I think the book could use, I can create an updated edition and have that information available quickly and easily. This is especially important for philosophical books.

Those are reasons why I am seriously considering the indie publishing route. I know there are good reasons to take the traditional route. At this point in time the larger percentage of books are still being sold in brick and mortar bookstores. This I believe is changing rapidly given ebook readers. I also understand that a traditional publisher has distribution channels that are not easily accessible to the indie publisher. They also assist with editing, design, and marketing, – things that the indie publisher has to take care of on their own. These are definitely things that need to be taken into consideration.

I could change my mind. Maybe a future post will be 10 Reasons I’m Considering Traditional Publishing. At this point I am not seeing that happen.

Let me know what you think. What is the future of book publishing?

Consider writing a nonfiction book.

You should consider writing a nonfiction book about something you know. Something that you may have thought long and hard about in which others may not have. Something that is passionate to you. And most importantly, something you think will be helpful and have a positive effect.

Do you have little known information that solves a problem? What changes would make the world a better place? Do you have a viable solution?

Of course the book writing process is no easy task. Most people who try to write a book give up before it is ever completed. This is understandable. It is a thankless and grueling task in the beginning. Most people (such as myself) require full time jobs to support themselves. So they have to make time to write. I do so on my lunch hour and at home, but it is difficult to do so consistently. It is tiring to write after you have worked all day.

But it is doable! – as long as you keep yourself inspired. Sure it may take longer than the person who is able to write fulltime for a living. You do not have to write your book all at once. Do so in small consistent chunks. They add up quicker than you can imagine.

Ignore people who are skeptical of you writing a book. They project their own feeling and insecurities on to you. They may say things like “Do you know how many books are written each year and read by only a few?” They miss the point.

The point is, everyone has something to offer. Detracting from people wanting to better the world, even if such desires are idealistic and may only reach a few, leads to people casting their writing to the side for American Idol. Is that really what they are looking to do?

It is easy to find yourself in this mentality, believe me, I know. I fight the battle of laziness every day, and it is never helpful when detractors promote it. I would rather relax on my lunch hour, and sometimes I succumb to that. But then I read or watch something that inspires me to keep moving on my book project. Keeping inspired is a key to completing that book. I intend to keep inspired and it is working well.

Ignore those detractors. They are simply mistaken in regards to what really has importance. Leaving something that has a chance to affect the world positively after you die is better than doing nothing at all. Make your thoughts heard, before those thoughts cease to exist. It is worth the investment of your time, and it is in your ability. Don’t let people tell you otherwise.

Are you considering writing a book?

Have you considered it but never started, or started but never finished? If so, what has kept you?