Welcome to the future everybody! I had a really great 2011 on multiple levels. Not least of all was the tremendous growth of Camels With Hammers, and an incomparably huge part of that growth was the move to Freethought Blogs. I am extraordinarily grateful to Ed and PZ for taking this chance on me and proud of my fellow bloggers for creating such a high quality network that I can be so proud to be a part of.
Another major growth of the blog came through the addition of Eric Steinhart as a regular guest contributor. His posts stretching back to February have consistently blown me away. Sometimes he infuriates me, as I know he does some of you readers, but I have learned a tremendous amount from him and through arguing with him over the years and have immensely enjoyed dialectically engaging him in my mind as I read his ideas and your comments unfold in post after post on this blog. So many of his relatively brief and astoundingly clear and straightforward posts are perfect introductions to incredibly complicated concepts. He distills and freshly illuminates so many ideas at the same time that I frequently think, “I have to use this with my students, since it so well catches them up with the existing philosophical discussion and so well provokes new questions” . Readers frequently ask me what they should read to get an introduction to philosophy and I, rather immodestly, want to say to them “Camels With Hammers!” I may be biased but I think the kinds of explanations I give and which Eric has been giving are the ones that get to the real hearts of philosophical issues in an introductory way.
And Eric in particular does such an amazingly thorough job of integrating ideas from so many different sources into philosophically powerful and analytically precise syntheses. I do have to constantly hold my breath anticipating a backlash of anger each time he shows little regard for the anti-metaphysical pieties of so much of the broader New Atheist movement. But inevitably I wind up proud of his abilities to subtly turn the arguments of theists against themselves and to deftly explicate the strengths and possibilities of religion in a way that make his criticisms of its perversion that much more decisive, deep, and ultimately constructive. I am very happy to be hosting his project on my blog. I think what he has to offer atheists (including me) is vital to the health of our movement.
Finally, in the last year I think I did much of my own best writing and perpetually grew as a philosopher through the process. I wouldn’t even know where to start to summarize all the thinking I did this year. I will just highlight that my favorite (and in many ways my most personal) post was Apostasy As A Religious Act (Or “Why A Camel Hammers The Idols Of Faith”).
Now, for 2012, I am resolved to push this blog to the next level. I defended my dissertation more than a year and a half ago now, and in 2011 I frequently used Camels With Hammers as an outlet to reformulate and further develop some of the themes that came at the end of the dissertation. But, with my extremely heavy teaching schedule (I taught 15 sections of college classes in 2011 and intend to teach more in 2012), I let the time for new research slide. It’s time to interact on a daily basis with scholarship again. And I’m going to motivate myself to do this by bringing more of academia and less of the rest of the blogosphere to this blog.
A chunk of the time I am accustomed to spending scanning the internet for blog fodder will be better spent scanning and deeply reading philosophical scholarship, and popular books on the social sciences, religion, and science. I will serve you and myself better by bringing more of what’s in those places to the internet than I do replicating what is already online. I have figured out how to make it a reliable part of my hectic schedule and now it is time to just do it. It’s time to make Camels With Hammers a place where I don’t just work out my own ideas in reply to reader provocations, but also a place where I make more of the main points of dense philosophical articles and books accessible to readers so that their valuable insights can reach a wider audience, and so that in the process I can improve my own thinking and writing in a much deeper and more thorough way.
As part of this increased focus on scholarship, I hope to also continue and step up my efforts which I began in August to blog more about Nietzsche. And, of course, as I interact with scholarship and with your responses to it, I will step by step refine, fill out, and defend my own views on metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics as I go. So, both those features of the blog will remain.
And, of course, a major staple of this blog is that it is an unapologetically atheistic blog. And in addition to all this sober, detached academic philosophy that Eric has been doing and which I want to focus more on myself, there will be plenty of room to regularly engage in the cultural fights for rationalism and for atheism against irrationalism and against theism. I am still passionate as ever about getting atheists proudly out of their closets. I am still passionate about exposing the unbelievable falsehoods and outrageous abuses of authoritarian faith-based religions as they crop up daily in the news and in popular debates. I am still passionate about pushing back against theocrats in America and around the globe. And I am still passionate about vigorously combating the appalling yet commonplace notions that the most important questions of ethics and the most fundamental questions of metaphysics are best answered with either baseless faith claims or irresponsible apathy.
In short, I will continue to be unapologetically academic and unapologetically activism-oriented without letting either my activism corrupt my academic rigor or my academic detachment calm my activist’s fervor.
I can’t wait to get started.