|Help Me, Captain Philosophy!
||[Aug. 16th, 2006|04:51 pm]
here) that characterizes me as a metaphysical Realist, an epistemological Subjectivist, and an ethical Utilitarian.I took a relatively interesting philosophy quiz (|
The corresponding viewpoints aren't a horrible match -- they're better than the subcategories listed under the polar opposite "Reductionist/Absolutist/Relativist" type, but still, there were a bunch of questions where none of the answers really fit what I believe. There are lots of these questions to which my answer is really mu -- either the question is ill-posed, or there's not enough context to give a proper answer.
So, not that I actually expect anybody on my flist can answer the question, but: Can you help me find a label for my philosophical outlook?
In a nutshell, here's what I think. There are two kinds of thing in the world: physical things, and informational things. A rock is physical; a 30-60-90 triangle is informational. Your mind is software (informational) that runs on the hardware of your body (physical). Part of your mind is a model of the objective physical universe; this model is imperfect, being fed by your imperfect perceptions of the universe, but there's an isomorphism between model and reality.
Here's the part that seems to be unconventional: I've come to believe that statements about physical things are qualitatively different than statements about informational things. In particular, boolean truth is applicable only to purely informational propositions. Statement about physical things evaluate to what I'll call "floating-point truth".
So what is that? Property dualism? Fuzzy-logic Aristotelianism? Any ideas?
Sometime in the last couple of years I've gone through a shift where I read questions like those in the quiz and my only honest response is, "How the hell would I know?" Constructing a personal philosophical worldview, much less defending it, just seems entirely impractical. Much of this comes from reading the stuff (far more seriously than I ever did in college) and realizing that I am pretty much incapable of doing that kind of heavy intellectual lifting. There's something freeing in coming to this conclusion and, for lack of any more accurate description, letting other, more qualified people do the thinking for you.
Taking my best stab at the questions, I think I was a Non-Reductionist/Absolutist/Objectivist, although some of the phenomenologist answers held some appeal.
It perplexes me that you feel you can't do that kind of thinking.
I'd be interested to know about how you decide who's more qualified and worth delegating to.
Well, reading, say, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason--or, heck, even a thorough summary of it--my response is basically, "Gosh, he's addressing a lot of really important stuff here, half of which I've never considered. Some of it sounds right to me. Some of it sounds wrong. But his argument is clearly stronger than anything I could put together. Other philosophers have spent their careers analyzing where Kant went wrong, so I'm unlikely to accomplish remotely as much as they have. Probably don't even have time to read them. But, no denying this is important stuff. Really would love to get a handle on it... I need a sandwich."
It's not that I could never assert a proposition against Kant, where I think he's wrong. It's just unlikely to be anything other than a statement of preference. "I don't like that idea; I prefer this one." Which, philosophically speaking, is mostly useless. I'd have to be able to back it up beyond "It's my experience..." That's where the heavy lifting comes in, and I certainly don't have a heavy-lifting kind of mind. Chance that I don't really know what I'm talking about: 99.9%
So, yeah, when it comes to delegating my thinking... Well, that's the rub, isn't it? I guess part of it is just a constant trial of ideas against other ideas, and part of it is finding a source that you trust for reasons that have not really anything to do with the intellectual content of their arguments.
I thought of a much better way to state this last point: These days I look for sources of wisdom more than intellectual rigor.
You know, that matches my experience a lot, too. Books that have impact on my 'philosophical' life these days are much more likely to make me feel fulfilled spiritually than intellectually.
Pat Loring's book Listening Spirituality is not philosophically deep, but had a profound effect on my prayer practice, for example.
[Hmm. NOw that I think about it, this may not match what you were saying...]