Ancient philosophy, modern technology
I'm writing a piece for Psychologies Magazine on iPhone apps and their use in the quest for well-being, enlightenment and all that jazz. It's provisionally entitled 'The Pursuit of Appiness' (groan).
It's making me excited, once again, about the possibilities that arise when ancient philosophy meets modern technology.
Ancient philosophers insisted that what they were teaching was a techne - a skill, a technology. Michel Foucault, when he came to study the spiritual exercises of ancient philosophy at the end of his life, called them the 'technologies' of self-mastery.
Today, I think there's great potential for the fusion of modern digital technologies with ancient spiritual technologies. We've already seen that happen, over the last 15 years or so, with the internet, which has allowed the rapid spread of, for example, Buddhist practices like mindfulness.
In a smaller way, it has also played a role in the rather more humble revival in ancient Greek philosophy, through websites like NewStoa.com.
I would love to work on taking this to the next step - on developing smart books, and applications for smart phones and iPads, that bring the ideas and the technologies of ancient philosophy to the modern reader, in a dynamic, interactive and intelligent way.
I still dream of producing a smart book, an e-book, that introduces the reader to ancient philosophy in the dynamic and intelligent way that Neal Stephenson dreamed of in his book, The Diamond Age, which tells of a self-help book that dynamically responds to its reader.
A self-help book that incorporates text, photo, flash, video, downloadable MP3s, apps, questionnaires and personality tests, regular new downloadable content, and readers' fora. A 21st century Book of Kells. That's what I dream of.