I am a British author, born in 1950. I was engaged in private research at Cambridge University Library during 1981-1993. I have five other websites, the earliest being citizeninitiative.com (2007). Subsequent additions were kevinrdshepherd.net (2008) and kevinrdshepherd.info. Studies on the history of religion are available at independentphilosophy.net (commencing 2009). I also maintain the blog Commentaries. I am sometimes classified as an independent philosopher. My basic commitment is to a philosophy of culture, as indicated by the book Meaning in Anthropos (1991). See further my profile and bibliography.
One of the longest articles of complaint about Wikipedia. This webpage describes some events and discrepancies on Wikipedia relating to the years 2006-2012. The well known “cult” affiliation demonstrated by the Wikipedia administrator Jossi Fresco has been much discussed and criticised. Fresco exited from Wikipedia, but other problems are reputed to exist. A series of Wikipedia events in 2009 ended in the disputed deletion of an article about myself. The different standpoints involved in this episode are narrated, especially in relation to an Articles for Deletion (AfD) page. An extra factor here was a sectarian complication first expressed in Wikipedia activist editing of 2006, subsequently banned, and which continued in blog formats strongly associated with web harassment. The views of diverse Wikipedia editors and administrators are profiled, and sectarian attack blogs are also covered.
An article describing some features of outlook and study orientation.
RENE DESCARTES, PHILOSOPHER AND SCIENTIST
An overview of the man who became celebrated as the founder of modern Western philosophy. René Descartes (1596-1650) is generally described as a rationalist, though he also possessed a strong empirical streak. His diverse works were composed in French and Latin, with both metaphysics and natural philosophy being in evidence. The Meditations has received much commentary, though the Principles of Philosophy is viewed by some analysts as the more important work. Descartes was in opposition to the university Scholasticism associated with Aristotle, and has been charted as a philosopher of the Scientific Revolution. His friction with orthodox religious parties is notable. The theme of "Cartesian dualism" can be misleading, and has created different interpretations, including the twentieth century "ghost in the machine" caricature expressed by Gilbert Ryle.
BARUCH SPINOZA, RATIONALIST PHILOSOPHER
Investigating events relating to the figure who formulated the complex theme of God or Nature (Deus sive Natura). The radicalism of Spinoza (1632-77) was early signalled by his excommunication from the Jewish community in Amsterdam. His subsequent career retained a simple lifestyle as a writer and lens-grinder. His neo-Cartesian orientation markedly diverged from the standpoint of Descartes, introducing a single substance monism which has been differently interpreted. Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise strongly defended freedom of speech, incorporated Bible criticism, and has been viewed in terms of the first major modern philosophical advocacy of democratic republicanism. His Ethics comprises a metaphysics and psychological theory formulated via the geometrical method. After his death, the influence of Spinoza was felt at an international level in the formation of attitudes known as the European Enlightenment.
PLOTINUS AND THE ENNEADS
An overview of a distinctive Platonist philosopher of the third century CE, utilising the biography supplied by his disciple Porphyry, along with other sources. Some components of the Enneads are referred to, these being the private treatises of Plotinus that were edited and arranged by Porphyry after the former's death. Plotinus is strongly associated with an "intellectual contemplation" that requires due assimilation. The well known conflict with Gnostic teachings is also profiled, a subject prone to contemporary simplification. In addition, some attention is given to the recent output of Pierre Hadot (1922-2010), a commentator on Plotinus who also contributed a more encompassing view of ancient philosophy via the subject of "spiritual exercises."
A treatment of the phenomenon known in modern times as Neoplatonism, existing in the Hellenistic milieux from the third to sixth centuries CE. Plotinus is often described as the founder of this trend, though his views did not converge with much of what followed. His disciple Porphyry was an unusual researcher, though his corpus is only partially extant. Iamblichus is strongly associated with theurgy, an approach which he furthered in a Syrian locale. Proclus was an erudite representative of the Athenian school, and also favouring theurgy. Subsequent developments included the critical reaction of Damascius, another leading scholarch of the Athenian Neoplatonist school. In addition, the Alexandrian tradition of Neoplatonism was significant, represented at an early stage by the female philosopher Hypatia, and later by other exponents who survived into the sixth century while living in the shadow of a dogmatic Christianity.
ERIC VOEGELIN'S PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY: (1) ANCIENT ISRAEL
Eric Voegelin (1901-85) was a German political philosopher who composed a distinctive philosophy of history in his multi-volume work Order and History. Moving at a tangent to Heidegger and Husserl, he was in opposition to scientism and also the Nazi regime, from which he fled to America. Strongly influenced by his Christian beliefs, he nevertheless gave a priority to Platonist philosophy. The first volume of Order and History covered the ancient Israelite religion in the pre-exilic phase. Voegelin borrowed data from the Old Testament scholarship of his time, leaving the commentator with the option to update that factor, now strongly complemented by archaeology. The Hebrew prophets are a complex subject, and the "history" provided by the Old Testament has recently been much in dispute.
ERIC VOEGELIN'S PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY: (2) PLATO AND THE GREEKS
A coverage of Voegelin's version of early Greek philosophy, together with other authors such as Homer and Hesiod. The second and third volumes of Order and History are here the focus, together with some additional data. Voegelin analysed the polis (city-state) and PreSocratic philosophers in addition to Plato and Aristotle. His empathy with the Dialogues of Plato had some distinctive characteristics. His outlook on Aristotle was more critical. Socrates is included in the coverage, being a figure posing difficulties for historical assessment. The contribution of Aristotle is complex, involving a corpus only partially extant, and noted for a strong polymathic ballast in the sciences.
ERIC VOEGELIN'S PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY: (3) GNOSTICISM
As a critic of modernity, Voegelin is controversial for depicting his target in terms of a "Gnostic" revolt against true order. In his earlier years, he was obliged to flee from the Nazi regime in Germany, becoming an American citizen. Voegelin identified both Hitler and Marx with the Gnostic rebellion, a blanket ascription which extended to Hegel and many others. His conflation of ancient Gnosticism with trends in modern thought and politics has aroused criticism. An analysis of his tactic reveals an existential Christian Platonist orientation with a neo-Thomist slant. The fourth and fifth volumes of Order and History are here the focus, along with the commentary of Eugene Webb. Voegelin's distinctive version of Plato is a primary component.
KEN WILBER, UP FROM EDEN
Critical analysis of a neo-Hegelian version of history, focusing upon Ken Wilber's book Up from Eden (1981).
SHIRDI SAI BABA, A LIBERAL FAQIR
Presenting information about Sai Baba of Shirdi (d.1918), a mystic of Maharashtra who has been variously presented as a Hindu and Muslim Sufi.
Vedanta, in various phases, from Shankara and Ramanuja to Ramana Maharshi and Upasani Maharaj.
Copyright © 2016 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded January 2010, last modified February 2016.