Thursday, November 15, 2012

Letters, I get letters

It’s time, I think, to repeat something I’ve said before.  I get lots of reader feedback -- in the form of emails, combox remarks, letters, and so forth -- and (apart from the scribblings of the occasional nasty crackpot) I appreciate all of it.  But I’m afraid that I am able to respond to very little of it.  I get long and detailed emails asking various philosophical and theological questions, people requesting that I read manuscripts or help them get something published, people raising detailed criticisms of my work and asking for a response, people asking for advice about which books to read or which academic programs to consider entering, people requesting spiritual or other personal advice.  In one case a got a request for help in getting a movie made; in another I had a reader turn up in my classroom out of the blue wanting me to sign a book.  I also get people in the blog combox asking me to answer various questions or to respond to various objections.  Sometimes I feel like Harry Tuttle.  It is simply humanly impossible for me to respond, in detail or even at all, to most of these requests.  I’m sorry, I wish I could, but I simply cannot.

At the moment I have five book projects going in various stages of development, two of them under contract and a third with a co-author.  That means deadlines, lots of background reading, writing and rewriting, and in one case the editing of other people’s work.  I’ve continually got academic articles, book reviews, conference papers, other editing duties, and the like to attend to as well.  That means further deadlines, reading, writing and rewriting.  I try to write up at least one substantive blog post a week, and sometimes more.  Occasionally I have to travel.  I teach five classes a semester and have various other work-related duties.  I have a wife and six children.  We’re remodeling the house just now.  And I’ve no doubt forgotten something.  In short: I’m as busy as all hell

So, if I fail to answer some question either sent by email or posted in the combox, that does not mean that I don’t think it is a good question, or that I don’t know the answer, or that I am trying to insult the person who asked it, or that I don’t appreciate reader feedback.  If I fail to respond to some criticism of my work posted in the combox or on some other blog or sent to me by letter or email, that does not entail that I think it is devastating and that I do not know how to respond to it.  If I fail to delete some crackpot comment from the blog combox, that does not entail that I agree with it or that I think it is anything other than a crackpot comment.  If a comment ends up in the spam box or moderation queue and I don’t approve it for several hours or even a day or two, that doesn’t entail that I am trying to censor the person who posted it.  If I fail to ban some troll from the combox, that does not mean that he is not a troll or that I am giving tacit permission to other readers to feed him.  Here’s what all these things do mean:  I simply don’t have enough damn time to get to all this stuffThat’s all.  

Occasionally I can and do respond, but there is bound to be, from the reader’s point of view, no rhyme or reason to when and how I do so.  Sometimes it’s because I just happen to have ten minutes between classes on some particular day, and thus can reply briefly to some email or comment that I happen to notice at that moment.  Sometimes it’s because my brain is so fried on a particular day from reading, writing, or grading exams that spending a little time answering the reader combox comment or email du jour is a welcome diversion.  But there’s no predictability to it.  If you email me or post a comment one day, you might get a prompt and substantive response; the same email or comment might, if sent or posted on another day, get only a very brief response, and on yet another day no response at all.

Sorry, but them’s the breaks.  If you like the blog and my books and articles, please consider that it is precisely because I have to devote time to them and to other things that I cannot also, on top of that, answer every, or even very many, of the queries put to me.  I think most readers understand this, but occasionally there’s a complaint.  “When will you respond to my email?” “Why don’t you respond to this comment I posted?”  “Why don’t you monitor the combox discussion more carefully?” Hey, I’m only one man!


  1. Perhaps someone with expertise could volunteer organise a website with 'stickies' - permanent links to statements, rules, essential posts, background reading etc. That way Dr. E.F wouldn't have to repeat himself or consistently hunt down prior posts and link to them.

    Maybe even establish a, what is it? a 'bulletin board'?.

    Something to think about as traffic keeps increasing.

  2. "Hey, I’m only one man!"

    Pernicious nonsense.

    Jury's still out, but you are either the male manifestation of Catherine Mora, or a computer program analogous to Agent Smith in the last two Matrix films.

    I utilized Thomas Aquinas' cogitation skills to break through the smog of illusion, and now I see through you.

  3. Actually, Ragnarok, I'm Madrox the Multiple Man. And so am I. Me too.

  4. Just unbelievable. I've immensely benefited from your writings. I hope God gives you the strength to continue what you're doing.

  5. Comrade Feser,
    We must defeat the capitalist pigs. We can do this only with your help and guidance.
    Sincerely ,
    A fan

  6. The comment above mine is completely nutz! XD

  7. Dear Dr. Feser,
    Will You come to my birthday party?
    Sincerely, Anon

  8. Good thing I didn't send you email yesterday as I originally planned (but I will one day).

    I'm big fan of your blog and work, tnx for all your posts.

  9. But you explained how one man could do all these things at

  10. With the seven figure salary you get from PCC, you should hire a personal assistant.

    Also, you were invited to my son's Briss last week here in upstate New York and you failed to show up. My wife made a 'Welcome Edward Feser!' banner and everything. How dare you! How dare you insult my WIFE!

  11. I can just imagine the conversations:

    "Oh, can your husband come?"
    "Oh, no, sorry, he can't; he's Incredibly busy."
    "Oh, that's too bad; what does he do?"
    "He's a...philosopher."
    "You know, you could have just said he doesn't want to come."

    Also, five books!

  12. Well, all that time you spent posting on why you couldn't respond could have been used to respond to at least a few email....just kidding!!

    I appreciate all the work you do and get a lot out of reading your posts and the leads to other authors. Keep up the excellent work!

  13. As long as you agree to read and respond to all MY posts we're OK!!

    (wink, wink!)

  14. 5 classes a semester!!! Holy Cow! That's like slavery or something. Do all the other teachers do that?

    Listen, Ed, you can skip all the other dumb emails here, no point. But pay attention here, I've got this GREAT book for you to read and comment on for me so that I can answer some dumb anonymous GNU on another site. Thanks, I appreciate it.

    Joe, very nice point.

  15. E. F. you are fine just the way you are. Keep working on the books; they will outlast the blog by decades and provide succeeding generations with the True Faith, the Real Philosopy of Aristotla and Aquinas and the tools for us mere mortals to combat the fools. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 1:15
    "Perversi difficile corriguntur, et infinitus est numerus" You are helping to educate the "stultorum"

    benedict1 in Kalifornia

  16. And you're not even on facebook yet!

  17. Ed,

    Have you written a post on how you're so productive? If I was unmarried, had no job, was independently wealthy, and had a fleet of secretaries and researchers, I don't think I could produce 1/10 of your output. Add in the fact that you're married, have six children, have a 5/5 teaching load (I'm assuming) and man a blog and it's staggering. If you ever decide to write a blog post on that, I'd love to see it.

  18. That's incredible. I knew you were busy, but not that busy. It's a wonder you manage to stay sane with a workload like that.

  19. Bobcat, perhaps it is precisely marriage and children that supply the sufficient motive force for Dr. Feser to produce his prodigal output.

  20. Or he could be an INTJ, whereas most philosophers are lazy, leaf-kicking INTPs.

  21. Well people who write to you Prf. Feser, and I have been one of them, like all people who write in these cases, tend to be egocentred, they often do not realize that the receiver of the letter/email/etc... is very busy and gets TONS of mail.

    Lucky for me you DID answer on your blog the questions I wrote you about. I do not know if my e-mail mattered at all, but still I am glad you did answer, and faster than I thought, actually (perhaps many had similar questions).

    In amy case, if you read these words, I want to THANK YOU for your books and your blog.

    Looking forward to your new books, blog posts, book reviews, papers and all the good work you do!

    Remember: take a rest sometime, after all, as Jesus said "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." :)

    Thank you again!

  22. Guys, if you have doubts about some aspect of A-T philosophy, consider also mailing some of us lesser-league thomists. I know, we're not the ProFeser, but we could help nonetheless! :)

  23. Maybe some of the commenters here can make a community blog, like "Ask the Thomists" or something. Thanks for the offer 21st.

  24. 21st Century Scholastic,

    I may just take you up on that offer.

    (lol at the guy inviting prof. Feser to his birthday party!)

  25. As someone who has emailed three times and recieved one response, I just want to say that I felt that was pretty lucky. A lot of people in Dr. Feser's position don't even take the time to respond to personal emails. There are a couple of questions I have posed on the off-chance that it would strike Dr. Feser's fancy to write a blog post on the subject, but I have never expected it. I don't think people realize how difficult and time consuming it can be to respond to all the emails and arguments people want to get into. In my mind, it requires a certain level of sanctity to even care enough to try and respond to them. So, kudos to Dr. Feser. I'd have told the complainers where to start looking for a response a long time ago, if you catch my meaning.

  26. Well, that explains your absence from the Twitterverse.

  27. Your professional productivity shames me, sir! Six kids and only five books?! You really ought to have one per child I think.

  28. Your sustained book sales and growing blog rankings are clear proof you're kicking ass.

    And over 500 sites currently link to here as well.

    Pedal to the metal, bro. Cheers

  29. You need to start cybernetically bilocating. ☺

  30. The seal of the Sacrament of Penance is protected by every man made law in a court of law.
    A court of law does not accept hearsay or third hand overheard testimony from evesdropping. Two witnesses establish a judicial fact.
    In the Sacrament of Penance, the penitent confesses his sins to Jesus Christ. The priest acting “in persona Christi” consumates the sacrament with penance and absolution.
    Anything the priest says outside the Sacrament of Penance is his own opinion, and is hearsay, uncorroborated testimony, unacceptible, as the priest’s testimony is from evesdropping at a conversation between a penintent and Jesus Christ.
    If this is not true, then the priest has overstepped his bounds and has excommunicated himself because he has violated the sacred trust of the relationship of Christ with a penitent.
    Jesus Christ gave priests the power to act as His representatives in the Sacrament of Penance. Jesus did not betray His friends, nor should His representatives betray His friends.

    Mary De Voe