By Kristo Ivanov
statement and overview for the period after September 2002
After the promotion to professor emeritus, effective October 2002, I have been led to the definitive dismissal of compulsive reading, networking, and publishing so common in an increasingly industrialized academic research. In this respect, please see the contributions at the home page's link to "University and society", and Matthew 12:36 - "There is not a thoughtless word that comes from men's lips but they will have to account for it on the day of judgment". The question, of course, is what is to be considered as a thought or a good thought, at the interface between philosophy of science and theology.
A disclaimer: with increasing age, psychologically I may be writing in the spirit of "Dixi et salvavi animam meam" ["I have spoken and saved my soul"] a quote that is attributed to Karl Marx's ending of his critique of the Gotha program, while its meaning is extracted from the Bible (Ezekiel 33:9). Besides regular bibliographic references I make extensive albeit not exclusive use of Wikipedia-references, especially in Internet-links, because of their comprehensiveness and easy overview in terms of standardized layout. This is done with full knowledge and evaluation of their possible shortcomings, obviously including those surveyed by other sources than Wikipedia itself.
The focus of research has been critical issues of philosophy, ethics and theology of informatics, including their practical-empirical implications. This is also motivated by and increasing dismay in face of a perceived gradual loss of interest for ethical and even political and economic concerns in the ongoing institutional research. This perception has been aggravated lately by disappointment with the general orientation of the disciplinary research in particular and of what is understood (misunderstood) as science in general. Alternatively it is disappointment with my own previous ingenuosness and faith in an illusory reason divorced from intellect. The top priority of my research has become a perhaps vain but necessary search for ultimate reasons of this "apocalyptic" development. In theological terms this means indeed the need for interpretation of the biblical books of Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) and Revelation (Apocalypse) in the disciplinary scientific context. In Swedish a popular secular equivalent would be to refer to the search for "grundbulten" (the main holding bolt).
Under time constraints such as experienced in the later phase of life emphasis shifts to social, emotional and spiritual goals, shaping the presuppositions and attitudes regarding information and technology, its development and applications. Personal relationships like family, friends and professional colleagues get increasingly important but only under the kind of conditions formulated in the classic Imitation of Christ: "MY CHILD, if you place your peace in any creature because of your own feeling or for the sake of his company, you will be unsettled and entangled. But if you have recourse to the ever-living and abiding Truth, you will not grieve if a friend should die or forsake you. Your love for your friend should be grounded in Me, and for My sake you should love whoever seems to be good and is very dear to you in this life. Without Me friendship has no strength and cannot endure. Love which I do not bind is neither true nor pure." [Book 3, Chap. 42]. A classical secular first version of such thoughts is to be found in Cicero's classic On Friendship and Old Age, which also served as inspiration for the famous early Christian work Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx.
All this implies new attitudes regarding research and knowledge which are consistent, for example, with research presented by Laura Carstensen at Stanford university. See also, e.g. Carstensen, L. L., Isaacowitz, D. M., & Charles, S. T. (1999) "Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity" (4,4 MB pdf-format, e-mail here for access), American Psychologist, 54(3), 165-181 (ref. Stanford university's Life-span Development Laboratory.) All this provided that emotional satisfaction is properly understood as reflecting life meaning such as in terms of an after-life, and not mainly in terms of hedonistic, bodily-sensory or aestheticist experience here and now, pleasantness, or sheer enjoyment of life. Emotional social goals are then better understood, for instance, as Christian love or charity, rather than only productive or pleasurable interaction or cooperation in "communities" fostered by, say, computer support and the Internet. A similiar view of psychic and intellectual life is also found in such "classics" as the above mentioned Bible's Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth), and 1 Corinthians 12-13, and in C.G.Jung's essays "The stages of life" and "The soul and death", written 1930-1931 and 1934, found in his Collected Works vol. 8, The structure and dynamics of the psyche (Princeton Univ. Press, 1960, see abstract (items 000202 and 000203) or a summary, and general overview at <http://www.cgjungpage.org> acc. 7 June 2006).