Foreword to Caverns of Socrates

There is an anecdote that Samuel Johnson, the British writer, was asked how he would refute Bishop Berkeley's statement that the world was an illusion.

"I refute it thus!" he said, and kicked a large rock.

Some people think he was right; some think he was wrong; and some don't think about it at all.

I've been thinking about it.

You see, what both Johnson and Berkeley were concerned with is the nature of reality. Perhaps Johnson's answer showed a profound understanding of the nature of reality; on the other hand, perhaps it showed a profound ignorance. It could have shown a profound frustration, because what we are talking about here is metaphysics, which means we are dealing with beliefs, with faith--scientific proof is lacking.

In all of my novels I get to delve into some rather interesting themes, with thought-provoking questions posed, explored, but not necessarily definitively answered. Herein I take up (and perhaps shed some light on) three intriguing questions: (1)What is the nature of reality? (2)What is consciousness; what is the mind? (3)Do people have spirits, souls, and if so would an Artificial Intelligence have a soul?

Becoming entangled in metaphysical issues has both its rewards and its penalties: wonderful intellectual stimulation; no way to know if you are right.

In spite of the fact that I am dealing with three questions (wrapped in what I hope are two thrilling adventures), the fundamental issue this tale concerns itself with is the nature of reality.

I think I'll go outside now and kick a rock.

Dennis L. McKiernan
March 1994