My name is Sean Goonan and I created this website, The Foundation Press, to be a platform for my philosophical book The Foundation for Exploration. Read about my background below, as well as the authors/books that have influenced me the most.
I was born in 1993 and grew up in Western Massachusetts. Ever since I can remember, I have always experienced the world through ceaseless contemplation and introspection. As a kid I was quiet. I observed people’s behavior and the strange world around me, where it seemed that everything had already been figured out, and I tried to discern how to act and tried to understand why the world was the way it was.
I attended George Washington University (GW) in Washington DC for three years (2011-2014). I was drawn to the rigid structure, rationality, and simplification of human nature that economics provided, and I was intrigued by its obscurity and apparent importance in the construction of society, so I majored in it figuring that it would also provide me with a satisfying career.
As time went on, the basic simplifications that economics provided were not enough for me, and the careers I was looking forward to seemed soul-destroying and counter-productive. I was isolated during my time in Washington DC. I didn’t really like the people at GW or in DC (except for a few people) because I felt they were a noticeable breed of phony, shallow, power-hungry, narcissistic types, and I didn’t like the college environment. I spent a lot of my time walking alone around the area in contemplation. It was in DC where I discovered how enjoyable a simple thing such as going for a walk and thinking can be. I focused less and less on the coursework and more on reading and thinking about philosophy and “meta-economics” (the big-picture analysis of economic systems and economic behavior at their philosophical core). I grew sick of the environment I was in and I struggled to focus on my classes and I even failed one. Yet I landed a summer internship after my junior year at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in DC. That summer I learned a lot about what life was like working in an office, and working for the bureaucratic government. I learned that I did not like these things. Philosophy began to take hold more and more. Every Saturday morning I got up early and walked for 15 miles around all parts of the district. I started to have thoughts that I could write a book based off of some of my ideas even though they were more rudimentary existential and economic ideas. I also started having thoughts about doing farming in order to be in touch with nature and to learn how to be self-sufficient.
At the end of the summer, I did not want to continue going to GW or have a career working in an office, but I did not know how to quit. Right from the start of the semester I started losing my mind being in a place I did not want to be in, with people I did not like, and these things combined with my intense search for absolute Truth manifested into a mental and existential breakdown, where I experienced some acute mental suffering and depression. I left GW half-way through the semester broken and confused. The winter quieted my surroundings back home, and it quieted my mind, yet my depression lingered on. I worked the night shift at a plastics manufacturer for a month and didn’t do much else. I applied for a farming apprenticeship at farms in Vermont and Maine for the spring and was glad to be chosen by a farm in Maine that I was interested in.
On an isolated small family farm midway up the coast of Maine, I found the power of getting in touch with nature and the natural order of things, and felt a strong inspiring wonder looking at the cosmos above my head at night outside of my small one room cabin at the edge of the woods. I felt my previous depression and nihilism dissipate and felt a strong love for life, and I began developing a personal philosophy based around this love for being alive and the hatred of destructiveness towards life. The philosophy was based around overcoming nihilism through developing a deep wonder and connection with the universe, recognizing certain subjective understandings of what brings true happiness, and the importance of tying in self-actualization with work. These were ideas I had been developing for years, but finally got to experience first hand and fully understand on the farm.
I left Maine later that year and that experience sparked me to work on other farms and start my own garden. Afterwards I also began organizing and writing down my thoughts. Some time in the fall of 2015 I experienced a breakthrough when I discovered/created the concept of the duality of human nature and I knew right away that it had the potential to be something very important with far-reaching applications. After much suffering and hopelessness due to my growing understanding of all the destructiveness in the world, my all-pervasive disgust for modern society, and my difficulty in getting my thoughts organized onto paper, I managed to complete the first draft of the book in November 2016. From the initial idea of the duality of human nature, I delved into many unforeseen aspects of human nature and the construction of society, and I believe I have created a piece of work with a variety of revolutionary and important concepts. I have made countless edits to the book over the years in order to perfect my message and continue to edit it to this day (2022).
Since leaving Maine I have worked on a few more farms in Western Mass and I have done a variety of other types of work. For three months at the beginning of 2018 I toured the eastern half of the United States (Mass to Florida to West Texas to Chicago to Lexington, Kentucky and back, and every state in between) by myself in my car in order to spread my book and to learn more about the country and its agriculture by working and staying on a different farm each week through a program called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. I visited and drove through countless cities and towns along the way. I observed how this country has been ruined by industrialization and suburbanization, with poor city design structured around the automobile, despite the natural beauty of the landscape fighting through in many places, and I met some very kind people in all parts of the country. In 2019 I ran for a city council-at-large political position in my hometown and lost. In 2021 I ran for the position again and lost but did better. In 2022 I ran for state rep in my district and lost, but I plan to continue to try to make a difference, and to continue to spread my ideas to the world.
Some authors/books that have influenced me:
John Taylor Gatto- The Underground History of American Education, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, Weapons of Mass Instruction
Wendell Berry- The Unsettling of America, The Art of the Commonplace
Ivan Illich- Deschooling Society, Tools for Conviviality, The Right to Useful Unemployment
F. Roger Devlin- Sexual Utopia in Power
Ted Kaczynski- Industrial Society and Its Future, Technological Slavery
Paul Goodman- Growing Up Absurd, Compulsory Mis-education, The Community of Scholars, The Society I Live in is Mine
E. F. Schumacher- Small is Beautiful, A Guide for the Perplexed
Friedrich Nietzsche- Beyond Good and Evil, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Henry David Thoreau- Walden, Journal Entries (Thoreau’s Country by David Foster)
Emile Durkheim- On Suicide
Knut Hamsun- Growth of the Soil, Hunger, Mysteries, Victoria, Pan
Ernest Hemingway- The Complete Short Stories
Franz Kafka- The Trial, The Castle
Jack London- Martin Eden, White Fang, Short Stories
Yukio Mishima- The Sound of Waves, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, The Way of the Samurai
Thomas Hardy- Far from the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge
Isaac Asimov- The Complete Short Stories Vol 1
Herman Hesse- Siddhartha
Alan Moore- Watchmen
H.P. Lovecraft- At the Mountains of Madness, Short Stories
Mark Twain- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Some other books that I recommend:
Strong Towns- Charles Marohn
Confessions of a Recovering Engineer- Charles Marohn
Walkable City- Jeff Speck
Towards an Urban Design Manifesto- Allan Jacobs
Third Ways- Allan Carlson
Against the Grain- James Scott
Beyond Civilization- Daniel Quinn
The Fate of Empires- John Bagot Glubb
Essays and Aphorisms- Arthur Schopenhauer
The Poverty of Affluence- Paul Watchel
Class: A Guide Through the American Status System- Paul Fussell
Asimov’s Chronology of the World- Isaac Asimov
The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency- John Seymour