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Starting now, for reasons explained below, Love of All Wisdom will be both a blog (as it has always been) and a free Substack newsletter. I will be posting Love of All Wisdom simultaneously on both; this blog site will remain its primary home. If you’re already on Substack, feel free to subscribe. I’d also be happy to have you stay here: I intend all of my post content to be the same on both sites, so you won’t miss anything if you’re subscribed to one or the other (except for comments and possible cross-posts). This week I will kickstart the Substack by copying over a few of my favourite blog posts from the past couple years. After that, the posts will go up at the same time on both. What follows here is the first Substack post, aimed at introducing Love of All Wisdom to a new audience. I post it here for its summing up of what LoAW is and has been about.

Welcome to Love of All Wisdom on Substack!

The essays on Love of All Wisdom are about philosophy, defined in an intentionally broad way. It brings philosophical traditions from around the world in dialogue with the more familiar Western texts. I am a Buddhist who has drawn a lot from Aristotelian virtue ethics and from expressive individualism (the widespread ideal of “being yourself”), so you’ll see a lot of thought coming out of those three traditions – especially Buddhism, where I continue to grapple with classical Buddhist texts and philosophers to figure out what they meant in their own time and what they should mean to us now.

But beyond those traditions, I also draw many ideas from the wisdom of Indian rasa aesthetic theory, Confucian theories of the relation between ethics and politics, German historicism and more. Most recently I’ve become particularly interested in the way nondualism – the idea that reality is most fundamentally one, or zero – recurs across traditions from Spanish Islam to Japanese Buddhism. In all these inquiries, I believe that reaching truth requires accounting for the observations of empirical science (including social science), while also being aware of its limitations. So you can expect to see a wide range of thinkers addressed here, from Śaṅkara to Darwin to Zhuangzi to Nishitani Keiji to Wendy Brown.

If you’re asking “does this person know what they’re talking about?”: I have a PhD in South Asian religions from Harvard, with my dissertation focused on the ethics of the eighth-century Buddhist philosopher Śāntideva and how it can speak to us today, and I’ve been a TA a variety of courses there including Michael Sandel’s famous Justice course. I’ve taught in the philosophy department at Boston University as well as at Colorado College and Stonehill College, and published in Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Philosophy East and West and Tricycle, among others. As of January, my full-time job will be Associate Director of the Ethics Institute at Northeastern University. I’m a cofounder of the long-running Indian Philosophy Blog. I also have a degree in computer science and two in sociology, so I’m no stranger to quantitative ways of thinking.

I remain a beginner at many of the topics I discuss – because with a focus as intentionally broad as mine, nobody could be an expert on all of it – but there are at least some topics where I’ve got scholarly expertise, and I hope that that expertise translates enough into other areas that I don’t come across as a complete idiot. I also try to put Love of All Wisdom in language non-specialists can understand, since nobody is a specialist in everything that Love of All Wisdom discusses. I do occasionally get technical, especially in the back-and-forth of debate, but I try to keep even those technical discussions in terms that non-specialists can follow with some patience.

Love of All Wisdom is not focused on current events (and accordingly proceeds at a slower pace than many other blogs and Substacks). Nevertheless, I am very interested in the philosophical implications of contemporary events and trends, and post about them accordingly. My perspective has been shaped by decades spent living in Somerville, Massachusetts, and working in Boston academia: currently some of the wokest places, for lack of a better word, in the world. I appreciate that that environment has given me the confidence to come out as gender-fluid: I go by the name Amod as male and Sandhya as female, with corresponding pronouns. (In virtual spaces I’m fine with either, no need to worry about it.) And you can expect to see writings here about the meaning of gender and its fluidity. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable expressing that gender fluidity in a more normie place, and I’m grateful to the woke movement for it.

I nevertheless keep some distance from the woke movement for a number of reasons: especially, I think it can have an unfortunate tendency to reduce every issue to simple oppressor/marginalized binaries, and to silence those who disagree. My own identity – betwixt and between in racial as well as gender terms – leaves me skeptical of the binaries and worried about the silencing. I believe in the attempt to learn dialectically from everyone, so I strive to avoid being doctrinaire in any direction. I remain firmly on the political left, but also occasionally call myself a conservative in the most literal sense: that is, I think revolutions of whatever kind, even if they ultimately lead to a better result, usually cause so much short-term harm that they are best avoided. You can expect to see political writings here from this point of view.

I have run Love of All Wisdom as a blog continuously since June 2009. I’m now joining Substack in order to reach people who wouldn’t necessarily find the blog, and to interact with other writers. At the same time, the blog site has nearly fifteen years’ worth of posts all carefully tagged and categorized, which I wouldn’t want to give up. Just as importantly, social-media platforms are ephemeral enough that I don’t want to be too tied to Substack if a Next Big Thing comes along and replaces it – or worse, if Substack gets bought out by a corporation with no commitment to it, as may now be happening to Bandcamp, the Substack of music. Self-hosted WordPress, the technology that powers the blog site, has a lot more demonstrated staying power, since it predates Facebook and has still remained the technology underlying most of the web for decades – and it is open-source, so it can stay around even if something were to happen to the organization that produces it.

So, I am keeping up both. Starting now, all my new blog posts will go up simultaneously on both the blog site and the new Substack; the posts from the past decade and a half will remain up on the blog site only. (Some posts will also be posted on the Indian Philosophy Blog, when they are specifically relevant to Indian philosophy.) Internal links within the posts (on both the blog and the Substack) will point to the blog site (where one can further explore the tags and categories). The only content that might appear on the Substack and not the blog is if I crosspost other people’s posts from time to time.

If you’re new to Love of All Wisdom and want to explore more of it, I recommend going to the blog site and clicking on post tags or categories for topics that interest you (Karl Marx, Confucius, mindfulness, Catholicism…) in the left sidebar. Even if you’re a regular reader of the blog already, you might find the tags and categories helpful to discover additional posts on topics that interest you.

Unlike on many Substack newsletters, everything on Love of All Wisdom is completely free. I am delighted that others are able to make a living from Substack writing, but I started the LoAW blog fourteen years ago with the knowledge that I would be making my money from other sources. In an era where far too much of the internet is subject to an aggressive and depressing monetization, I want to do my part and keep my corner of it free for all takers – and I’m fortunate to have the ability to do that. Welcome to it.