We declare at the outset that we do not make any positive assertion that anything we shall say is wholly as we affirm it to be. We merely report accurately on each thing as our impressions of it are at the moment. ~Sextus Empiricus
All my essays begin with two disclaimers. First, I have limited time for research. Many ideas discussed demand a book-length treatment, but I can’t do that in a blog post. Anyone who tries to research thoroughly encounters this problem—you will never publish if you wait too long to complete your analysis. Moreover, I’m a fallibilist so my conclusions, no matter how well research, would still be provisional. Put simply, I prefer to regularly publish new posts instead of occasionally publishing more detailed ones.
Second, I know more about some topics than others. The less I know about a topic, the more the reader should be skeptical of my conclusions regarding it. Here is how I would describe my knowledge of various areas.
I spent my career as a professional philosopher so that is my area of expertise. I also know a bit about science, religion, history, literature, and futurism. But even within these realms, I know considerably more about some sub-divisions than others.
For instance, in philosophy, I specialize in the meaning of life and I’m reasonably well-versed in theoretical and applied ethics; epistemology; critical thinking; ancient and modern philosophy; existentialism, philosophy of human nature; philosophy of religion; philosophy of science; philosophy of mind; and Eastern philosophy. I’m not a true scholar of most of these fields, but I do understand the basic questions they pose.
But I know less about, for example, philosophy of law; philosophy of language; philosophy of mathematics; social and political philosophy, metaphysics; aesthetics; symbolic logic; medieval and contemporary philosophy; African philosophy; and feminist philosophy.
The same for the sciences. I have a good layperson’s understanding of biology and astronomy, but a lesser grasp of physics, chemistry, geology, computer science, and mathematics. I have a decent knowledge of psychology and history but know less of sociology and economics. I am reasonably versed in American and English literature but know little of other literary traditions. I know Christianity well, especially Catholicism, and I’m familiar with the basics of Buddhism and Hinduism, but less informed about other religions. I’m also quite knowledgeable about the philosophical implications of future technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and genetic engineering.