Philosophy may indeed be speculative and imprecise, but it is unrealistic to suggest (as many scientists do) that we can meaningfully do without it.
From what I can tell, organized academic philosophy is primarily occupied with the rigorous and precise debate over the not particularly interesting.
Some religious ideas are interesting and valuable on an intellectual or philosophical level, but not as dogma. No human idea should be as rigid and as authoritative as the dogmas we see causing so much hate and violence in the world.
One can experience something first hand, but as time passes and memory fades, one essentially has to have faith that the thing happened, and happened in the way that one thought it did. I think our memories have a high degree of faith attached to them, because after a certain point we cannot empirically verify their validity anymore. We just have to have some measure of faith that we are not wrong, or crazy.
As Korzybski said, whatever you say a thing "is," it isn't. Your model, or map, is a concept which points to the thing, but really the thing in itself is far beyond that mere notion. Does the unconditioned have a limit? Probably not.
Some people seem to put too much faith in logic. In truth, it is only useful up to a certain point. That, and it is more often than not underpinned by sublimated emotions.
As George Carlin said, if your belief system has a name, you're in trouble.
One thing I have never satisfactorily understood about academic philosophy is how we get true objective conclusions out of language which is inherently couched in subjective, fallacy-ridden human minds. How do we get such rich systems of truth -- each of which contradicts all the others, mind you -- out of pure, emotional subjectivity? I, for one, have no idea. As far as I can tell, the philosopher is either right or wrong. A lot of wrong philosophers were systematic and logical. I guess the truth is a woman, then...
Leary clearly made some (very public) mistakes, but I think he was an important scientist-philosopher. His writings have meant a great deal to a lot of people, myself included. People fail to understand what an accomplished writer he was. He did some great work.
Robert Anton Wilson's principle of Model Agnosticism is indeed quite admirable and eminently constructive, but I would point out that some models are in fact truer than others. In other words, the basis for forming mental structures out of the chaos of existence should not be considered arbitrary.
The monumental improbability, which is legitimate, of life and biological intelligence evolving at all is offset by the fact that we live in a multiverse. In an infinite expanse of universes of all types, there must indeed be an infinite (or at least astronomically large) number in which humans arise, and we are simply the organisms in one such universe looking back and contemplating this. It is quite necessary.
There's all this great mystery about existence, and consciousness, and what it all means and why. Fact is, the act of experiencing is the whole thing. The secret of existence is existing. The mystery disappears when the mystery disappears.
All too many people have adopted the scientific (or scientistic) mentality and outlook as a worldview, and nothing could be more philosophically and spiritually idiotic.
There is absolutely no point in over-thinking things. People get drunk on intellectual realization, and more often than not perceive things that aren't there, or get wrapped up in explanations which are pointless. The rational mind is invaluable, but it can easily be taken too far -- it can run amok.
What would be interesting to know is the history of consciousness. (And prehistory).
If one withdraws the question, one withdraws the need for an answer.
I get the impression that academic philosophy over-formalizes the pursuit of truth. I don't sympathize with that level of pomp and circumstance regarding a subject that the philosophers don't truly understand any better than anyone else.
I'm with the intellectuals on a lot of things, but even they exhibit a sort of a shtick, and I can do without the atheism and materialism -- and a lot of the politics, too.
Socrates taught us that the only thing we can truly know is that we know not. He was right -- truly to know is probably beyond humans. I think it is possible in this life, however, at least to get onto the right track. Hints and clues here and there can give us that much.
I would like to suggest a distinction between relative and absolute knowledge. Yes, the world is filled with information in the form of knowledge. A university library is filled with billions of bits of information. However, not one of us knows the first thing about why we are here. I think we can touch on deeper truths, as I suggested, but to my mind the truth is really beyond us. Quantum electrodynamics is quite possibly the most fundamental knowledge we have. Fields, photons, electrons, quarks, energy levels, etc. But why fields? Why photons? What theory lies hidden beneath this one? Will there ever even be a final theory of physics? We really don't know. I think you'll find, on a little bit of reflection, that all of our knowledge is quite relative, provisional and conditional. Sure we know about black holes. But when you start asking questions, much along the line a child does, the whole thing falls apart after about three questions.
Every activity we engage in is an act of faith. Memory, imagination, logic, perception, etc. When you boil it down, one has to have faith in what one is and in what one does before anything else can take place. Nothing could have any meaning without it. Indeed, one could not properly function without it.
In the end, all -- and I mean all -- one can really say is that things happen. That is the only incontrovertible philosophy.
I see myself as more of a generalist, i.e. one who knows something about a great deal of subjects rather than one who knows a great deal about very little. This has, naturally, made it virtually impossible for me to fit into a society that has become hyper-specialized, but I don't mind that too much.
Reason is not monolithic. It is built upon a structure whose foundation is subjective.
Two opposing ideas can both be different perspectives on the same truth.
Even what turn out to be obvious truths can be very hard to know. The solar-centered planetary system and evolution are two clear examples. It took millennia before anyone was even able to suggest these ideas. The latter is still controversial!
Most philosophizing (not to mention science) throughout human history has been done from the outside-in. Nietzsche did it from the inside-out, and that is how he arrived at his theory of the "will to power."
The twentieth century saw, among other things, a huge increase in the power of science and technology, the rise of women and the general sentiment toward equality, a reduction of government to mob rule dictating the self-preservative behavior of career politicians -- which has led to bad and ineffective government, and an overall stupidization and zombification of the human intellect. By the early twenty-first century, we have all the information in the world at our fingertips and no one but morons to utilize it. Children and young adults today are some of the most doltish and unimpressive idiots I can think of. The twentieth century revolutionized our raw power and technological knowledge, and sapped the intellect. The truth has never been so rarely spoken as it is today. The philosopher has never been so lame -- and vilified.
The technology of the human brain will be understood and surpassed. Is all philosophy a waste of time?
It can be declared impossible to get one's head around the subject of time -- what it is, what it means, why it is such a blur and so unforgiving. In the final analysis, I suppose all one can really say with any honest conviction about reality is that I am here, it is now, and there is change. Anything else is either a guess, a metaphor, or nonsense.
In the end, love is not the best thing. The truth is the best thing.
There is an infinity of possible thoughts. Just imagine how minute the sum total of what has been thought must be. Just imagine what has yet to be thought, or at least what could be.
Perspectivism and relativism are clearly true in several, if not most, situations of observation and perceptual relation to the world. But, the fact remains that there is a truth, or rather there are some truths, regardless of one's perspective or relationship to them. In quantum mechanics, the deepest our knowledge of the physical realm has gotten thus far, we use a probabilistic framework to describe the erratic and strange behavior of the universe in the subatomic realm. Many people think this is the final truth -- that this is as far as we will get -- that all we can do is use the probabilistic wavefunction to get a best guess for the behavior of a reality that is ultimately beyond our comprehension. Many people think theories of the future will discover hidden variables that have been lurking and foiling our efforts at total comprehension, and reinstate a deterministic, causal, classical/Newtonian type of paradigm. Who knows. But quantum mechanics does hint at the nature of perspectivism and its relation to truth. For example, if someone shoots a person, and kills hir, this is something that has happened. It is true to say that he shot him, and not true to say that he didn't. Well, if there were witnesses, or a video camera, this truth can be verified. If there were no witnesses, obviously the shooter will not furnish the truth in the interest of evading penalty, and it becomes a game of probabilities. The Schrodinger's Cat paradox is a famous version of this idea -- all we can say, from our vantage point, is that the cat is alive and dead simultaneously, and when we observe it, we will select, in a way, the final outcome. Fans of determinism and of truth insist that the cat is either alive or dead, and it is in our observation of the system that questions arise. If some alien superintelligence could peer in from some higher dimension and observe it without affecting it, it would know the truth. Then the other side contends that well, our observation is all we really have in dealing with the system, so questions of observation are questions of the truth itself. But still, if a man shoots a man, this is something that has happened, regardless of who saw what. If we devised a technology that could focus in on one place at one particular time, and observe the event taking place, we would know the truth. But then, would our back-in-time apparatus have affected the outcome? There are many good questions, but I like to think that there are at least a few propositions which cannot be defeated by arguments of perspectivism and relativism. Perspectivism is very useful and applies to countless situations, but... to say perspectivism is true is saying that there is no truth independent of perspective. If perspectivism were in the realm of perspectivism, it could not be true, and thus we have room for fundamental propositions. However you look at it, for all intents and purposes we can say that I have written this paragraph. If we cannot say that, or if we must argue about it, how much point is there in discussing anything?
Nihilists are those whom life is getting the better of. There is a whiff of truth to it, but ultimately it's a very weak position, and I don't mean logically. It comes from someone who is beaten down and losing, maybe depressed; a more moderate position is held by someone who has balance and may even be getting some positives out of life. Nihilism is almost a cry for help. It's certainly extreme, and that alone is enough to invalidate it. It is more often than not the product of some form of ill health. Clearly, it is the result of fragmentation.
The empiricists have a little too much to say about what can and can't exist, it seems.
Reality is anything but a joyous cake-walk much of the time, but it doesn't help anyone to have a negative attitude about everything. Nor do we need to wallow. A more positive mindset leads on balance to more happiness. And isn't that the object of living? Saying "no" to everything is just an unfortunate pickle.
Perhaps form could be defined as the morphological identity of an object or subject residing in a particular space, be that space physical, ideational, linguistic, abstract or mathematical.
It's probably best to take life lightheartedly and not take oneself very seriously. There's really no good reason to do the opposite.
As a philosopher, what I lack in systematic rigor is made up for by an appreciable discernment of real truth. As a mystic, I'm too scientific. As a scientist, I'm too mystical.
One can declare that the universe is a giant machine, and that we are all epiphenomenally conscious robots. But then one would have to admit that there is a meta-level from which this determination is being made. Right?
In the end, what do we have but our own experience to determine anything? In truth, we're all just going on faith that anything has anything to do with anything. Appeals to science do indeed fall into this category, ultimately.
A system cannot be evaluated as a whole by a part of itself -- it must be evaluated by some system outside of itself if a consistent evaluation is to take place. Gödel proved this. So how can a dyed-in-the-wool materialist call himself a robot in any consistent axiomatic framework and be demonstrably right?
The standard behavior now among Western civilization is that of science -- one cannot take a notion seriously unless there is evidence for or against it. Evidentiary-based philosophies are the norm, and are considered correct and rational. Now, evidence of course is limited to this consensus-realm, and there is ample anecdotal evidence that other realms could possibly exist. So how profitable, really, is a worldview that treats empiricism as the most important tool, when this consensus-realm is possibly far from all there is? At the very least, these empirical edicts should descend a peg or two. There's more going on than any of us realizes.
Nietzsche was of the opinion that, after his time, the aphorism would become the highest form of language.
Probably throughout history, from the very beginning, there has been one percent or maybe a half of a percent of the population that has been "turned on." I of course do not mean an economically or politically powerful class. The group I refer to has had little power, with occasional influence through art or philosophy. And they have been generally powerless to "turn on" the remainder of society, lonely poets and adepts and thinkers that they are.
Postmodernism seems to be centered on the generalization that the truth doesn't exist. Well, if the truth doesn't exist, that assertion cannot be true, and is therefore false.
I tend not to worry about the "is of identity" or E-prime, even though it has its benefits. To me, we already use a highly fragmented thought process in written language, so whether or not I scrupulously avoid 'to be' doesn't seem terribly important to me.
Why is it that the only people who actually know anything are the ones who don't think they know shit?
One must strive for and attain equanimity. It is important to understand that not a whole lot matters.
From Frank Herbert: Mankind has sunk into the mire and vanity of knowing. In the past, and hopefully again in the future, he will attain to the way out of chaos through understanding by living.
It seems to me that Epicurean hedonism is not a means or an end concerning anything truly meaningful.
The conventional wisdom is that "I know that I know nothing." Does anyone even know that? It's conceivable that we all know more than we think we do, in certain respects. Who knows? Socrates, who was famous for his dictum, also believed that we are born with perfect knowledge from previous lives, and the unfolding of life is the process of rediscovering it. So even he, whom everybody quotes as knowing that he knew not, believed in some sense that we all know much more than we realize.
Nietzsche's scheme of Eternal Recurrence is a very affirmative philosophy. It implies that if you had everything to do over again, you must not wish to have anything go differently. That is, you must live your life to the full or not live it at all. It is also a harbinger of the multiverse. Everything will repeat an endless number of times, and of course this is the essence of why you must regret nothing, as it is set in stone. (On the other hand, the multiverse is a more forgiving concept, because everything that is possible will happen).
The primary mark against Nietzsche was his total and utter lack of regard for compassion. He freely asserted it, which probably makes matters worse.
It is true that existence is one, but in reality we have to make some distinctions.
What would the Buddha have had to say about Nietzsche's philosophy?
Becoming is all right, but if one does not have a healthy relationship with being, he will be lost.
The fatal flaw of Utilitarianism is that, in the end, the truth has nothing to do with happiness.
Nietzsche was a genius, but in the end he was an atheist-materialist, and thus in error.
Nietzsche focuses his contempt for slave-morality much more on the Christians than the Jews, whom he seems to have felt achieved some kind of redemption lately.
It occurs to me that action-based languages, where verbs and process are emphasized, are superior to noun-based languages insofar as all acts of perception and communication are acts of process and interaction. Examples of the former would be Chinese or Navajo, and the latter perhaps English or Latin. It also occurs to me that noun-based languages may condition our thoughts in ways that are unrealistic. For example, we might say "It is raining." What is the "it" that "is" doing the "raining"? How sound or unsound is this implicit objectification?
I think that in one sense we are all equal, and that in another we are not. Highlighting one or the other has its time and place.
I think, therefore I am? More like, I perceive that I am, therefore I might be.
One glaring problem I have with the Hindus and Buddhists is their will to passivity. Calm acceptance is a good thing, but believing one is a helpless spectator and cannot affect the game in the slightest is I think unconstructive.
To determine whether a set of beliefs is religious or philosophical, ask the question: "Is there worship?"
Socrates was ugly, and Plato was fat. It doesn't matter how one looks -- the only things that hinge on it are sex and popularity.
Thing is, most religions are constructed around real and deep truths. In reality, though, the construction is invariably corrupt and shoddy.
Language can refer to absolutely anything, but it cannot make one understand just anything.
There is a single question that answers many: Are you an Aristotelian or a Platonist?
I feel that sociobiology plays a huge role in species from humans to ants to elephants to fish. I do think we can become freed of these imperatives, however, based on certain ways of living. For example, I highly doubt that a Tibetan monk worth his salt is governed exclusively by genetic, sociobiological drives. The whole point of such philosophies is to cultivate awareness of, and freedom from, such programming. So I feel the picture is very complicated.
I don't know, I suspect.
People put too much faith in logic.
Optimism is fine if you don't mind being wrong all the time.
People can only accept that for which they are prepared. One cannot understand something for which one is not ready. One cannot communicate meaningfully with most people on this planet.
True randomness would have to be defined as 1/infinity. Can anything be truly random based on this definition?
The world may be shitty, but the only thing that will ever change with respect to one's experience of it is oneself: is you. The only thing that can really change is one's own perspective. Everything else is likely to remain more or less the same. That's the best advice you'll get about where to look for whatever it is you're looking for.
Transcendentalism sounds good, but if you look at it, you will see that it is inherently dualistic. The notion is that we must transcend the mundane to reach the divine. In truth, reality is one singular movement, with the divine located everywhere.
Logic is only as valid as the axioms it assumes. And a lot of those assumptions I observe are foolish, even though the majority is certain.
Undoubtedly, everything I think is wrong. But I'm doing my best as a human to have some semblance of regard for the truth.
Ultimately, yes, it is all one, but it is good to make distinctions. Mass and energy are really the same, but we all know that for practical purposes, they are different. Mind, body and soul are all one, at bottom, but how could we make any sense without defining these words? Existence is unity, though multifaceted, and there are many quasi-independent levels, interacting in marvelous ways. As always, perspective is useful.
In establishing the veracity of a proposition, it is usually best to have evidence supporting it. However, there are true statements that cannot be proven, or even supported by extant evidence. They are still true.
The matter, energy and consciousness of which you are constituted are infinitely old. In this sense, you are not "you" at all.
In my experience, what usually ends up happening is something you had never even thought of.
Because humans are too stupid to realize the truth, they figure that they already know what it is.
The insistence upon empiricism has grown rather ridiculous. How much sense does it make, really, for a human to say that some phenomenon cannot possibly exist if humans are unable to perceive it? The fraction of reality that falls upon human senses at any given time is quite small. The world given by empirical data does not encompass the entire continuum of experience.
I have some experience with academic philosophy, but I do not particularly jibe with the whole elaborate and rigorous and systematic approach to logics based upon axioms which are as couched in subjectivity as anything at all and could be bonkers compared to the actual truth. It seems to me that much of the enterprise is based upon axioms which are in fact false. Call me intellectually lazy if you want; I prefer using my own reason and intuition to feel for the truth as best I can, and I feel I can give academic philosophy a run for its money much of the time.
Nothing is absolute about the premises or consequents of human logic, which is necessarily couched in emotion and desire.
It is true that our minds operate based upon neurological constructs formed by sensory stimuli during our formative years. However, other aspects of neurological function have absolutely nothing to do with sensory input. It seems that Locke's "Tabula Rasa" is not the whole story.
Nietzsche's concept of master and slave morality clearly has considerable merit. But the notions of cruelty as virtue and compassion as weakness diverge from my experience.
It's a misunderstanding of both science and religion to believe the two are mutually contradictory, or in any way incompatible.
I am indebted to the immortal words of David Bohm, who emphasized the notion that existence is one undivided, flowing movement, and that wherever we see division, distinction or conflict, we have only to realize that we are the ones who put it there.