Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I had my first book published in 1998 when I was past seventy. How that came about I will not go into now. Since then I have published seven books (including a second edition of the first book), as detailed below:

LET US PHILOSOPHIZE – second revised edition (2008)

The blurb to the first edition read:

"Modern Thinkers, applying the criteria of science, have concluded that traditional philosophy was false and meaningless: philosophy was reduced to a number of specialized disciplines and techniques that cannot approach the ultimate questions that originally gave rise to philosophy. For the guidance of life we were left with dogmatic religion on the one hand and, on the other hand, the nihilism of a science that can work practical wonders but has nothing to say about meanings and values. Only full-blooded philosophy can help overcome this dilemma, for unlike science, philosophy does not give us factual knowledge, but gives us an undestanding of those ideas and ideals which alone give value to life. This book seeks to show that this is possible and necessary and offers the substance of such a philosophy."


From the Preface:

"It has been said that Plato probably "has never been studied more intensively than in the late twentieth century." Unfortunately we can also say that Plato probably has never been more misunderstood, travestied, and disfigured than in that same period.

"Until late in the nineteenth century or early in the twentieth Platonists gave their various interpretations of the works of Plato. Later in the twentieth century, scholars no longer interpreted but dissected. They murdered Plato and were happily cutting up the cadaver into tiny pieces to examine them under their analytical microscopes.

"It was not the intention of Plato in his writings, or in his oral teaching, to expound a finished system of philosophy. Just as the sole end of the Socratic elenchus was not, as is commonly supposed, to arrive at correct definitions but to arouse that creative aporia which led his interlocutors to confess their ignorance and to look for enlightenment within their own minds, so it was the aim of Plato to ignite in the souls of his hearers and readers that spark of understanding which "suddenly, like light flashing forth when a fire is kindled, … is born in the soul and straightway nourishes itself", as he puts it in Epistle VII.

"It is therefore worse than useless – it is positively damaging – to subject the writings of Plato to minute analysis and formal criticism in an attempt to extort from them hard-fixed doctrines and a theoretical system. Plato's writings should be approached imaginatively, responsively, that we may glimpse in them the ineffable insights that could only be conveyed in myth and metaphor but never in fixed theoretical formulations.

"I neither pretend nor intend to arrive at what Plato thought or taught. No one is entitled to claim a monopoly on understanding Plato's 'true' meaning, and I certainly make no such claim. Plato has left us some thirty pieces of verbal composition, which he created for his own amusement, as the Phaedrus 276d would suggest. My purpose in this work is to present the philosophy I derive for myself from these, for my own satisfaction.

"I enter into living dialogue with the living Plato and offer the understanding I come out with for myself from that dialogue, not claiming any authority or any veracity for my interpretation. I do what Plotinus did, what Augustine did, I draw from the flowing founts of Plato to water my own garden, and offer my version of Platonism for what it may be worth intrinsically."


From the Preface:

"The idea of this little book had been luring me for decades. I kept putting it off because I did not feel sure about where to draw the line between representing Socrates' thought and presenting my own. After having published Let Us Philosophize (1998) and Plato: An Interpretation (2005), as well as numerous articles, where I gave my reading of Socrates/Plato, I felt I could give myself free rein without worrying about fencing apart what might be read into Socrates/Plato and what is an accretion, provided always that the accretion be harmonious, in the writer's judgement, with the rest.

"Beside the basic fiction of the prison journal, I have, from the start and throughout, introduced anachronistic citations, fictional situations, dreams and divine intimations, to emphasize the non-historic intent of this work. Nontheless, I maintain that my reading is truer to the genuine spirit of the Socratic-Platonic philosophy than much that goes as scholarly and erudite analysis and exposition.

"I am aware that there is much reiteration in the following pages. I go back again and again to the same subject and repeat again and again the same thoughts in various forms of expression. I feel that this is necessary, since one of my main concerns in this as in my other writings is to correct what I see as grave misunderstandings and distortions that have become firmly established within mainstream philosophical thought; I am also trying to introduce and clarify concepts and views which I claim to be original and important. Both these tasks call for and justify much reiteration and much insistence.

"The notes appended to the journal are of a dual nature. The biographical and historical notes are for the the benefit of the lay reader or the novice. These notes, when not drawn directly from the dialogues of Plato, are derived from sources that are readily accessible. With respect to these, I claim no originality and make no pretence of erudition. They are bits of common knowledge which I collect here simply for convenience. In the remaining notes I expand somewhat, for the purpose of clarification or emphasis, on certain ideas and views presented in the journal."


From the Preface:

"This is a fictionalized account of the last days of Hypatia's life, leading to her brutal murder during Lent, 415 AD. The tragic tale is followed by a collection of imaginary excerpts from lectures and speeches of Hypatia.


"As is evident from the preceding lines, the philosophy I ascribe to Hypatia is confessedly my own. Since, thanks to the Church, Hypatia's works have been completely lost to us, I may perhaps be forgiven a fabrication rendered innocuous by this explicit avowal. In any case, it is known that Hypatia's philosophy was Platonic/Neoplatonic, and I describe my own philosophy as a version of Platonism.

"If anyone should take offence at the way I have pictured Hypatia's tragedy, I have no apology and no regret. Hypatia's atrocious slaughter is a sore wound in the human conscience that must be kept smarting if it is not to fester and poison the whole human body."


"From the Preface: This is a collection of philosophical essays written during the period from 2000 to 2008 and published in various online journals and/or in my website and weblog. So why the Sphinx and the Phoenix?

"To philosophize is to question everything; to question the world, our experiences, our beliefs, our motives, our ends; to subject all things to What? and to Why? There you have the Sphinx, and thus far few will be inclined to disagree.

"What about the Phoenix? Here I expect much and strong opposition. I maintain that no genuine philosophical question is amenable to a definitive answer. Philosophy is concerned with ultimate mysteries — the mysteries of being, understanding, and value. By raising questions about these mysteries we create for ourselves intelligible worlds, real in their own right, but which, in seeking to represent the ultimate and the absolute in finite and determinate formulations of thought, necessarily falsify what they set out to reveal. When philosophy fails to acknowledge that its best pronouncements do no more than stammer out the ineffable it turns into dogmatic superstition. That is why true philosophy, as Plato saw clearly, can only speak in allegory and metaphor and myth and must constantly, as Plato insisted in the Republic, destroy it own foundational postulates. True philosophy must burn in the fire of dialectic that from the ashes new intelligible worlds may arise bringing with them enlightenment and insight, but only if they are prepared to burn in their turn on the altar of dialectic. There is my philosophical Phoenix, and if what I say sounds as dark as the sayings of Heraclitus of old, I have to risk sounding arrogant by saying that any original philosophical thought cannot escape being in some measure enigmatic. Its value resides not in conveying definite knowledge but in provoking the receiving mind to think for itself. Anyhow, I hope that, if the reader is willing to bear out with me to the end of this volume, what I say may seem less dark and may be found to make sense."


From the Preface:

"In line with my fictional Socrates' Prison Journal (2006), in this work I fictionally make Plato decide to put off the final revision of the Nomoi to write his memoirs, reflections on his life and works. The possibilities and the hazards of such a fictional venture are obvious. The attempt is audacious, yet I dream that if Plato were to read what I have written, though at one point or another he would say, "This is foolish", or "This is trite", yet at some other point he would say, "The fellow has got this right", and at just one or two points he might even say, "I would love to have written that!" Be that as it may: these are confessedly my reflections, but I believe them to be of true Platonic inspiration."


From the Preface:

"The book traces the human quest for Reality from the first gropings of primitive humans through the speculations of modern philosophers to my own confessedly personal vision. Chapter one, "In the Beginning", gives a sketchy outline of the human quest of Reality in the earliest times. No erudition or originality is claimed. This is a simple outline drawn from commonly available sources. Chapter two, "The Ionian Venture", a brief survey of the earliest Greek philosophers. Again, no pretence of scholarship or originality, though the interpretation may be 'personal'. Chapter three, "Socrates" and chapter four, "Plato": In these two chapters I claim to offer an original interpretation, opposed to the mainstream academic reading, laying the foundation for my original version of Platonism. Chapters five to eight on Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, and Whitehead respectively: I show my agreements and disagreements with these four great thinkers to develop my own vision. My intention is neither expository nor critical; my approach is not scholarly and I have no use for 'secondary literature'. Chapter nine, "Reality", mainly explaining my special terminology where I distinguish between and oppose 'reality' and 'existence', a distinction which I think is needed to clear much confusion in philosophical thinking. Chapter ten, "Philosophical Thinking", expounding one of two radically original features in my philosophy, namely, the oracular nature of philosophy. The other feature is what I call the Principle of Creativity. Chapters eleven and twelve are critical of Analytical and Empirical approaches in philosophy. Chapters thirteen to eighteen, "The Soul", "God", "Time, Duration, and Eternity", "Three Metaphysical Principles", "Creative Eternity", "Humanity", these six chapters give the substance of my special philosophy. The two annexes are self-explanatory."

The Egyptian National Center for Translation is publishing Arabic translations of these books. Translations of the first four books have already appeared, the others, hopefully, will follow.

I intend to make these books, in the original English, freely available online. LET US PHILOSOPHIZE and HYPATIA'S LOVER are already accessible at the E-books section of ArabWorldBooks.com.







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