About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Deadline time

We've reached deadline time for Voices of Disbelief, so I expect that Udo Schuklenk and I will be working pretty intensely over the next few weeks getting the book into some sort of initial shape.

By the way, please don't write to us submitting an essay unless you're on our list. To get this venture to work, we needed to have as many people as possible committed in advance, so that we could go to publishers saying who was signed up to provide essays if we obtained a contract to do the book. Some people will doubltless drop off as personal or professional circumstances intervene in their lives - that's happened in a couple of cases already, but there's no sign of it happening on any large scale. As of now, we have thirty essays submitted out of the fifty-seven (I think it was) that we were expecting ... which we always thought might end up being more like fifty. Even if quite a few have to drop out, we already have a reserve list of people who've expressed interest and whom we'd dearly like to include if we could find the room.

I'm actually surprised to see that we have thirty essays already. In my experience, most people end up pleading for an extra day or two, rather than delivering well before the deadline, as has happened here with many of our authors. Hopefully, that's an indication of the enthusiasm the project is generating. Of course, there are some who've had to ask for a bit more time, and we understand that that's sometimes necessary. We're all juggling multiple issues in our lives.

If you would have liked to submit an essay, do let me know. Although I can't offer any expectation at all that we could include your work this time around, it would be useful just to know how many people would have been keen to write for such a book. There may be future projects arising from this one, and in any event it's nice to know what allies we have out there who are prepared to speak up in public, expressing their rejection of religion.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And just to prove it ...

Those nice people at Monash take your photo when you submit your thesis (if I'd realised this, I might have shaved or spruced up a bit more). So here's my mug shot. The shiraz-coloured binding is rather handsome, whether or not the author of the thesis is.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Yup, four nice bound copies of PhD Mark II submitted this afternoon. I'm now celebrating. Okay, now it's in the lap of the gods, or the examiners, but it's done!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Voices of Disbelief - halfway there

Udo Schuklenk and I now have about 25 essays for Voices of Disbelief. We'll end up with somewhere between 50 and 60, so we're near enough to halfway there. If I single out individual contributors, it'll not do justice to all the ones not mentioned. But they include regular readers of this blog - Damien Broderick and Greg Egan. Plus well-known authors, journalists, philosophers, activists ...

It's going to be a strong book. Stay tuned, folks.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Inching closer on the thesis front

As of today, the report on the thesis front is this.

Four copies are with a bookbinder being bound in a nice shiraz format with gold lettering. I pick them up on Tuesday. Meanwhile, my principal supervisor has signed off on it. There's another form I need to get signed by my head of school, so I'll need to track her down on Monday or Tuesday ... but it really seems to be going in. I can't believe it, after all this time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's finished!

Barring some twist that I can't imagine, I'm declaring my PhD thesis finished as of now. I gave it a final (hopefully) proofread tonight, so now I just need to print off copies of the final, final, ultimate version of this last draft, then get them bound, and get the appropriate forms signed so I can hand it in. It's going to be hard to let go of it after four years. There's always the thought that maybe there's some last improvement to make. But by this time next week I should have done everything that needs to be done ... and will just be awaiting the responses of the examiners.

It's too early to celebrate quite yet, but we're getting very close.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Long blog break

I've been on a long de facto blog break - not something I especially intended, but just how it's been turning out.

The last three weeks have been a bit intense, not so much incredibly busy (though busy enough) as incredibly nerve-wracking. Jenny and I made a decision some ago that we would need to sell our house and move on to the next phase of wherever we'll live. Actually, we'll still probably live in Melbourne for a year or so, renting somewhere, while we take stock of our options. Of course, this has meant dealing with real estate agents, lawyers, painters, carpet-repairers, etc., etc., none of it unpleasant and too much of it falling on Jenny ... see next para for why ... so I can't complain too much. Still, it's been a bit fraught, and I must say that I love this house, and have loved living it. I'm a bit sad about having to sell up, though I'm in no doubt that it's the right decision. We can't live the semi-retired lifestyle we do, with relatively little cash-flow, week by week, and also maintain a house as expensive as this one.

At the same time, events have come to a head with the preparation of my PhD thesis. There was an administrative log-jam to be broken - no use going into this - and it took a bit out of me working out what to do about it. However, the upshot is that I've spent much of the past three weeks deeply immersed in getting the thesis into order for submission. I have a green light from the department, and if all goes well it will be submitted late in the coming week (or early the following week). I now have what seems to be the final version - subject only to the very last layer of proofreading. I just need to run around getting copies bound, various forms signed, and so on.

I never planned that these two things would come to a head at once, but that's how it's worked out. So be it.