Research

summary

My research is centered around human knowledge: what is it, how do we get it, and why do we have both that kind of “what” and in that kind of “how”.  Such a broad topic, naturally, brings me into many other areas of philosophy: historical scholarship (where I’m most well-versed in the Latin era, but also familiar with modernity and the emerging post-modernity), natural philosophy, cultural philosophy, ethics, and so on.  The most common denominator of my work unfolds in the relationship between traditional metaphysical thought and contemporary semiotics and phenomenology.

I am also a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Digital Life, where I consult as an expert in Thomistic philosophy, Peircean semiotics, and phenomenology. The Center for the Study of Digital Life:

is a not-for-profit strategic research group dedicated to understanding the effects of digital technologies on civilizations — both East and West. Our goal is to improve decision-making worldwide, in the interest of avoiding confrontations, by assisting people to take responsibility for their actions under conditions of a digital environment which shapes our behaviors and attitudes.

Three key historical figures act as “channels” through which my research is conducted: Thomas Aquinas, Charles Peirce, and Martin Heidegger.  Since each naturally sits within a relational web of thinkers, this brings me to many others: Aristotle, Kant, Husserl; Augustine, Scotus, Maritain; Cajetan, Poinsot, Deely, Wojtyla—and so on, and on.

current research

At the moment, I am revising and expanding on the manuscript for Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue: The Intersection of Phenomenology and Semiotics (forthcoming, De Gruyter), which examines just what it proposes: that is, how Peirce and Heidegger are guiding thinkers for understanding in what ways Heidegger’s phenomenology intersects with and is complementary to Peirce’s semiotics.  The principal argument is that Heidegger’s notions of Sein and Welt are fecund grounds in which Peirce’s Sign can grow.

I am also polishing up a few articles—some on Thomistic scholarship and personalism, others on Heidegger and semiotics—which I hope to have published within the next year.

immediate future research

I am continuing the research I have already completed—in both Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition as well as Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue—by extending these epistemological considerations into ethics.  In other words, I believe that contemporary difficulties in ethics can be better served through an approach which possesses better epistemological clarity and that, indeed, much of our ethical confusion stems from insufficient understanding of the truth about the good.

My first major goal in accord with this product is the drafting of a book, Narratives and Nihilism, which traces the epistemological roots of these ethical problems through the history of modern philosophy.  The inspiration for this book was serendipitous: having recently finished the Peirce and Heidegger book, I found the insights derived therein to be, indirectly, immensely efficacious in communication with my on-going ethics course.

Co-incidental to this larger project run a number of parallel threads: that is, an interest in socially-constituted reality, technology (specifically the technological mediation of communication), and the dynamic interplay of social reality with the process of individuals’ conceptualization—all of which stand relevant to the book—figure prominently in my thinking.

distant future research

My research interests are broad.  I believe that no one area of philosophical inquiry is self-contained.  The primary roots of this interconnection, and of my own philosophical perspective, are metaphysical and epistemological.  This involves bringing together medieval and contemporary sources.

Among these goals are included:

  • Collaboration on a complete translation of John Poinsot’s Cursus Philosophicus Thomisticus and recovery of the work of the Conimbricenses and of the Modistae.
  • A series of articles exploring the connection of John Deely’s notion of the human being as “semiotic animal”, Heidegger’s notion of Dasein, and traditional understandings (especially Thomas Aquinas) of the human soul. These articles would also touch upon the inadequacy of contemporary neuroscience and cognitive science for dealing with human cognition.
  • Further exploring connections in the thought of Aquinas, Heidegger, Peirce, and the respective traditions of scholasticism, phenomenology, and semiotics, including issues not only metaphysical and epistemological, but also ethical.
  • Book-length publications endeavoring to develop the personalism advanced by Jacques Maritain and Karol Wojtyla, within a Thomistic metaphysics, and employing insight from the traditions of phenomenology and semiotics.

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