Friday, May 28, 2010

Under the mailbag

I want to thank my readers for all their feedback, in the comboxes, via email, and sometimes via snail mail too. I appreciate and value it very much, and I am sorry that I simply do not have the time to respond to all of it. I know that most readers realize this, but I find that the backlog of emails, letters, and combox remarks that I have yet to respond to (and, frankly, will at this point never get around to responding to) has grown so large that I wanted at least to make a general statement of thanks and regret that I cannot respond to every message individually.

Some general advice regarding emails and letters: As Bill O’Reilly says, “Keep it pithy.” All things being equal, brief messages to which I can provide brief replies are more likely to get responses, especially if I don’t know you. If I don’t know you and you send me a long email or letter asking for my opinion on various complicated philosophical, political, or theological questions, it is unlikely I am going to respond. I wish I could, and occasionally I can and do, but mostly I just don’t have the time. If I don’t know you but your concerns are of a more personal nature – career advice, philosophical or theological questions that you are really struggling with, or the like – then I will make an extra effort to respond, but even here there are limits, and I simply cannot provide lengthy replies or get into an ongoing dialogue. And if I don’t know you, please, please don’t write asking me to help you publish your book, or to read your manuscript, or to get you a job. I really wish I could help you, but I can’t. I’m sorry.

Regarding combox remarks, my responding is obviously less important, since other readers may have things to say, and their responses are sometimes more interesting than anything I could offer. But if you want me to respond personally, again, briefer is better. The probability of my having time to respond decreases as the length of your remarks increases, and if your comment is one of many lengthy comments, the probability of my responding approaches zero. (I would feel guilty responding only to one or two among many long comments in the queue, and I typically resolve the moral dilemma by responding to none of them.) A response is also less likely if you ask me to address something far afield from the subject of the blog post you’re ostensibly commenting on. But again, if you don’t care about my responding anyway but simply want to discuss something with other readers, have at it. I will chime in as I can.

Finally, and as should go without saying, please use common sense. 99% of my readers do so anyway, and these last remarks are not directed at them. But for the rest: Don’t take it personally when I do not respond to your comment or fail to address your pet issue. Be polite; if you send me a nasty email, I am going to delete it as soon as I see where it’s going. (I will take extra relish in doing so if it’s a very long email, so that the hour or two you spent stringing together your profanities and fallacies will have been completely wasted. Better to devote your time to something more worthwhile, such as getting a life.) If you’re snotty in the combox, don’t expect a polite reply, or any reply, and don’t feign outrage if your comment gets deleted. I moderate with a light hand – in the history of this blog, I have banned only two people, both of whom were really asking for it – but trolls will not be tolerated.

13 comments:

Crude said...

Heya Ed,

Just wanted to say, as someone who's nagged you with many questions since finding your blog, that I appreciate the time you put into your blog - both the answers and the posts. I'm sure others do too, so thank you.

Edward Feser said...

Sorry, Crude, I just don't have time to reply to this comment of yours. ;-)

Seriously, though, thanks for saying so. Keep the comments coming -- as I say, I do value them -- and I'll reply as I can.

Charles R. Cherry said...

I'd like to know (selfishly) why you aren't teaching a the masters level or even the post-graduate level at a university that offers distance learning...I want to pursue a masters in philosophy, and I'd love to have someone like you as a professor.

Edward Feser said...

Thanks, Charles. The short answer is that I was pretty much absolutely determined to stay in L.A. after grad school, and thus only ever applied for tenure-track positions in the immediate L.A. area, and thus accepted the first one I was offered. The rest is history.

I do not recommend this strategy to others, because it is very risky -- in general it is extremely unlikely that one will be able to find a tenure-track position of any sort in the city one would really like to live in. (That's especially true given today's horrible academic job market.) If you try it, it's far more likely that you'll never get a tenure-track position at all.

Ryan said...

Dr. Feser,

I know this might be a little off topic, but would you explain and prove the Aristotelian-Thomistic point of view for me real quick?

Damien S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien S said...

I would just like to say too that I am extremely grateful to Ed's help in the past in answering my philosophy questions. I credit these answers as part of the reason I did well during my undergraduate and honours years.

I am now pursuing a PHD on hylemorphism inspired mostly by Ed's outstanding work (though I have found David Oderberg extremely helpful as well over recent months).

mpresley said...

If you really wanted to thank us, you'd get rid of that fly thing, and post a pic of Geena Davis.

Victor Quiros Vargas said...

Hi Ed, I just wanted to thank you for your time and patience. I am one of those beginners who use to nag this guy from time to time with first-grader questions. Again, thank you!

Dr. Evangelicus said...

Thank you most of all for The Last Superstition and I can't wait for a follow-up book (hopefully with a nicer cover though!).

ddent said...

Dr. Ed: Thanks for your lists of books covering the basics of Thomism. I am finding Fr. Henri Renard, S.J., a real gift in helping me in my difficulties grasping the first grade stuff. Thanks again for being a faithful custodian and teacher of St. Thomas' Gifts - for all you do and all you are - especially as we enter these dark ages.

Daniel Smith said...

Hi Dr. Feser,

I can't help but feeling that this topic is (at least partially) devoted to me - due to the rather lengthy email I just sent you regarding the ID/artifact debate. (Sorry!)

Thanks for explaining your position about such things and why I shouldn't expect a direct answer.

I think I've found my answers in Aquinas' writings anyway and - hopefully - can bounce them off you at some time in the future (when (if) you take up the subject of ID again!)

Anonymous said...

I have never commented here before, but as a Catholic just finishing a semester of Intro to Philosophy, I came across a couple of articles you'd written, followed them to your blog and from there ordered your book The Last Superstition.

Thank you very much for the voice you bring to today's philosophical discussion. I like the way you think, and I understand the way you believe.