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Crimson DESTR0YA
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Posts: 1888

I would like to start a thread on a topic that I think we can all contribute to in equal measure, and something that isn't Pokémon. That, my friends, is philosophy. It's a topic that we all know plenty about, but many of us don't know we know a thing about it. It's a topic that, if the opportunity to return to the classroom were to present itself to me, would be my career target and new major of choice. How does one make a profitable career in philosophy in the current market? One does not, not without more than one's fair share of luck, I know. It would be career harakiri to pursue such a path. But that might be why I chose the word "harakiri" over simple "suicide," for what separates the two is the protest present in the former...


That serves as a nice bridge into what I first want to discuss; definition of terms. Or, it would, but I have a few disclaimers I feel the need to make in advance of my first dialogue in this thread. I will explain a common pratfall now, one that every Intro to Philosophy student is taught within the first week of class, but that we all are bound to fall into at multiple points in our lives regardless. That is the fallacy of truth.

It can be described mathematically, as the sheer weight of all relevant factors in any equation serving to represent any situation is too great to be quantified. It can be described existentially, as the cloudiness of perspectives makes it impossible to know which is the proper angle to view a given topic. But it boils down to this: There's too much shit to take into consideration to know what the truth is. There's too much shit to take into consideration to know WHAT or IF truth even IS. Why is truth true? Who said? By what standard? Truth can only exist in a plane in which all factors and all perspectives can be precisely quantified; for example, truth can be found in a game of baseball, so long as the confines of the game are not exited. If a batter strikes a legal pitch that is caught by a fielder before it touches the ground, the batter is out. If this is not true, the game falls apart, and all players may as well drop their bats and gloves and go home. Now, one could leave the given system of the game in question and attack such uncertainties as the existence of the game and the players relative to one's own perspective, but within an enclosed system, in which all variables can be quantified (i.e. the Major League Baseball rule book), truth can be known. There is authority that cannot be undermined; there is a standard.

The difference between this hypothetical ballgame and existence as a whole is that very thing; as far as general existence goes, there is no unquestionable authority or hard standard. One may choose to follow an authority (i.e. "God"), but for any authority you can cite, one can easily call into question that authority's right of dictation. Standards vary based on culture, climate, time, and circumstance. And what standards there are can be questioned or worked around if not outwardly defied. Even the great Laws of Physics can be evaded, in the practical sense in the instance of propelling a rocket with such power that it exits our atmosphere, and in the theoretical sense in the study of the complex sciences. If something is perceived as a truth, and a question can be raised regarding it that cannot be quelled within the confines of that truth, it cannot be accepted as truth. At least not as I define the word. Again, definitions of terms are key. So key that I had planned on it being the first topic of discussion here. But I haven't even made my disclaimer yet... Ugh. I'll hurry, I'll hurry.


Basically, I find it foolhardy to claim hardly anything as "truth." I am learned in the field of philosophy, more than what most would consider a layperson's knowledge to be at any rate. But I'll not claim to hold any truths, and certainly none will be shared by me on this thread. I don't claim to be able to teach any one of you a single thing. But again, it all depends on how you define "teaching" and "learning." By my definition, we are all simultaneously each others' teachers and students...


But, to wrap up the disclaimer, I may sometimes phrase things as though I am saying "this IS so," "this IS correct," "this IS incorrect." Understand I know better than the literal meaning of such phrasings, especially if you disagree with such an assertion. If I make such broad, far-reaching, and totalitarianist claims, it's for the sake of easy understanding or dramatic flair, creative liberty. If you really held me to it, I could only claim to know of one truly true truth; that of the existence of my own consciousness (see René Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy if you want to know why I do claim that much). I will divulge no truths because I have none to share. This thread is for asking questions, forming hypotheses, stating opinions, expressing one's beliefs to the best of one's ability. This is the purpose of philosophy.


That's how I define it, at least.

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The destructor has gone

April 23, 2014 at 1:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Mitsuo-Dexl
Member
Posts: 575

I was really excited to see this thread.  It sounds like fun, a good, safe way to air out everyone's argumentative skills (or maybe discussion skills?  Depends, I suppose) and learn more about each other as a group.  I will be able to provide loads more to this than I would any topic about Pokemon.


That said, was there a particular topic you wanted to start with?  I saw nothing to really lead off from what you gave, as it seemed to me you were simply defining the parameters by which our discussion would take place.

--

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like bananas."

April 23, 2014 at 10:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Crimson DESTR0YA
Administrator
Posts: 1888

Glad to see some interest in this! I don't have a specific topic in mind, no. Feel free to start us off if you have one. Otherwise in a day or two I'll pick something and post some thoughts about it.

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The destructor has gone

April 23, 2014 at 10:53 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Mitsuo-Dexl
Member
Posts: 575

I'll see what you post in a few days unless I think of something before then.

--

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like bananas."

April 24, 2014 at 5:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Crimson DESTR0YA
Administrator
Posts: 1888

I believe a natural progression from where I left off last time would be to address the importance of assumptions. In his previously referenced Meditations, René Descartes set out to prove a myriad things, most of which unfortunately later turned out to be false (it's still an absolutely essential read for anyone to whom this kind of thing interests). One thing he did prove, though, is how necessary assumptions are to living a functional life.

In Meditations, Descartes noticed a pattern we've all noticed by now; how our preconceived notions we hear from others and form for ourselves as children slowly fall apart as we age and experience more of life. In response to this, Descartes set out to wipe his mind clean of all preconceived notions and form a new psyche built anew from the ground up entirely from a logically sound foundation. He erred fairly quickly when he relied on the ontological argument for God's existence, but the most important part to me occurred before then, when he realized without such an authority, he could only prove one thing: The famous line, "I think, therefore, I am." These five words are both far more complex and far more simple than they may seem at first. We know the senses may lie. All five of our quantifiable senses have failed all of us at some point, to some degree. We know of mirages and hallucinations. We know of the sometimes wonderous, sometimes horrifyingly cruel world of dreams. We even can conceive of scientifically feasible virtual reality scenarios in which all of our senses, our notions of who we are and what our environment is, can completely fall apart.

But. I think. I'm asking these very questions. I'm self-aware of multiple potential answers to these questions. Something is going on up there. I can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the life I believe I live exists as I believe in it. I can't prove that my name is anything more than guttural noises invented long ago to differentiate me from another similar primate. I can't even prove that these thoughts are mine; perhaps I was programmed to express these very thoughts long ago. But something's going on in there. If this is all an illusion, I'm someone to fool. At whatever level, miniscule or grandiose, I exist.


If that right there is all one can accept as truth, a notion that I do claim as true, that's not much of a life, is it? To be unable to be sure of anything but that you exist? Big whoop. Even without my metaphysical breakdown, you'd probably at least guessed as much while your umbilical cord was still attached. Now we're getting to the value of assumptions. In order to see that, we also need to understand the role of systems.

What is a system? That can be cloudy. Confused the shit out of me the first time such an idea was raised to me, I didn't understand what the professor meant until literal years later. It's another idea that's easy to overthink. Simply put, as I shall refer to it, anytime there's rules, anytime there's guidelines, anytime there's a norm, strictly enforced or no, that people/animals/plants/some type of life follows or observes, that is a system. It's deceptively obscure, isn't it? And incredibly wide-reaching. Yes, virtually any series of occurrances you may have noticed throughout your entire life can be easily quantified into a system. Multiple systems probably, probably more than you can even identify.

But for its value to this discussion, imagine only one, HUGE system. The system of the universe in which we live. Your consciousness is there, obviously. Your consciousness is everywhere, we've already proven that to be true (actually Descartes did, and probably some Greek before him but the book got burned before a white man could discover it. It's sad what of history we've lost, and even sadder when you start to look at why). But also, in this system, let's include your name. Let's include your body, your clothes. The room you're sitting in, the building that room is in, the ground that building rests on. The street, the city, the county, the state, the country, the continent, the planet, the solar system, the universe as science has thus far described it. Your friends and your family, any strangers you met today. Your pets. Your memories. Let's... assume... that all of this is indeed true. What we've created is a system. Remember in my last post, the hypothetical baseball game? Remember how I said it's a system? Remember how I asserted, as I still do, that truth can only exist with parameters? Now don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that because we've made a system it's now true. What I am saying is that because we've made a system, it is true WITHIN THAT SYSTEM. The system itself may be false, we may still be under the control of a viscious god who gets off on tricking his people into thinking they've made philosophical advancements. But if THAT is true? Or any existence other than the one I've quantified into the system? If this is all an illusion, all your knowledge is worthless. Logic would probably fall apart as just a manmade construct then. If our system is untrue, YOU DON'T KNOW SHIT. That doesn't mean it's untrue. It could still be. But there's no point in worrying about if that reality is true, because if it is, all thinking is literally worthless. You'll just have to go with what you're given when the illusion ends.


So, yes, I've just proposed a philosophy in which the pursuit of raw truth is abandoned. I propose accepting assumptions, and seeing them as something less than pure truth, but far more valuable because, within their given systems, we can actually DO shit with them. You have to be careful in constructing systems willy-nilly though. And above all else, the most important thing to maintain in working with systems is fluidity. Be prepared to adapt, modify, and sometimes outright destroy systems that fail to make peace with newly acquired data.


And always, always keep in the back of your mind, that while it may not be likely, this all may not mean a thing.

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The destructor has gone

April 24, 2014 at 7:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Cecil-Jacobs
Member
Posts: 739

I hate to make such a short response to such a long one, but are the things you are proposing not how people genrally think of their life? In your experience anyway. I'm not trying to dissmiss what you are talking about at all! I just find that none of this seems remotely revolutionary to me. This isn't the first time either. My College level Philosophy class was just as strange of an occurance. Things were taught to us that never really felt like a teaching to me.

I hope that all makes sense.

--

Ask me about my waifus

"I'm happy to report that my inner child is still ageless". James Broughton

April 24, 2014 at 8:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Crimson DESTR0YA
Administrator
Posts: 1888

In my experience, no, this is not a view that most people start off with, if they ever accept it at all. Generally throughout human history such questions have been organically answered via some sort of superstition, religion, or other such mythology. That's not to inherently say that any of them are absolutely incorrect, but it's not the route I choose to take. Most people seem to convince themselves, through some means or another, not only that there is a right answer to these questions, but also that they know what it is. My belief structure rejects the expectation of answering those questions entirely. Considering the amount of intellectual, spiritual, physical, literary, creative, and violent energy our race has expended trying to answer these questions, I would consider this to be an unorthodox approach.


I'd also like to reiterate that I am not trying to bring anyone a revolution. The thoughts I've shared are superior to none. It's just my perspective, explained and defended to the best of my ability.

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The destructor has gone

April 25, 2014 at 2:00 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Mitsuo-Dexl
Member
Posts: 575

At what point do assumptions become beliefs?  Or, in what you are proposing, are the two terms synonomous?  In what you propose, do the statements, "I assume there is a God," and "I believe there is a God," mean the same thing, or is one fed from the information given by the other?

--

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like bananas."

April 25, 2014 at 8:55 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Crimson DESTR0YA
Administrator
Posts: 1888

For me assumptions are more like hypotheses, or "experimental beliefs" maybe. It's a possible truth you adopt for the sake of experiment and further scrutiny. The statement "I assume there is a God," to me, implies that it will be followed by a thorough examination into God's existence. It's a platform you build from which to launch yourself forward and see where it gets you. "I believe there is a God" implies more of a sense of acceptance rather than curiosity, and would also imply to me that it's a statement that you have already accepted as knowledge of that tier below pure truth based on a preponderance of the evidence, a believed encounter or communication with God, experience of a miracle, etc. Did that tell you what you were looking for? I feel that explanation was a bit cloudy.

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The destructor has gone

April 25, 2014 at 3:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Mitsuo-Dexl
Member
Posts: 575

Sort of.  So can an assumption become a belief?  It sounds like you are assuming that if I begin a statement "I believe" then there has been no investigation, only acceptance.  By saying "I assume" you think it leads to that investigation.  From what I gathered, "I assume" becomes "I believe" through investigation, but it doesn't always start there?

--

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like bananas."

April 25, 2014 at 8:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Crimson DESTR0YA
Administrator
Posts: 1888

People can form beliefs based on any amount of evidence, or none at all. And no, if you say you believe something, I make no judgment as to whether or not you've thoroughly explored the feasibility of your belief. I may ask for a supporting argument so that I may adopt or reject that belief for myself, but if you don't provide one, that's hardly grounds for me to declare it unfounded for you to hold. To use the prior example, if someone says to me "I believe in God," I have no way of knowing whether they investigated the matter and found that to be the most favorable conclusion, or if their parents told them about God at an early age and they never questioned it beyond that. So, no, using the word "believe" does not imply to me that there has been no investgation. It does imply to me that, at the time of the statement, there are no plans for an investigation on the matter because the person already holds it as truth, or more properly, "near-truth."


Ideally, yes, I think "I assume" would become "I believe" through investigation. To me, that's the best way to determine if a belief is worth holding. But I'm sure we all hold many beliefs that we haven't bothered to thoroughly scrutinize, of varying levels of importance. That's why I believe philosophy is such an important pursuit to hold onto throughout one's life.

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The destructor has gone

April 25, 2014 at 9:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Crimson DESTR0YA
Administrator
Posts: 1888

Hello again everyone. I want to post something different than I have in the past here. I think I've been going about this the wrong way; so now I'm going to focus more on influential philosophers of the past and how their teachings can apply to now, rather than trying to build my own foundation.


There's only one place to start, really: Socrates/Plato. The reason I've combined the two is, from a scholar's standpoint, the two really are the same person. Staying true to his pathos perhaps to a fault, Socrates never wrote a single book. All we know of him we know from the writings of Plato, who wrote primarily in narratives, with Socrates as his narrator. Plato claimed that the goal of his writings was to capture his teacher's philosophy rather that to share is own, in many cases claiming his writings to be the very word of Socrates, verbatum. 

Now, applying a critical eye we see in Plato's writings a great ideal made of Socrates; Plato speaks of Socrates as many Disciples speak of Christ. In fact, had the Dark Ages not occurred and the Academy been able to thrive, I find it not at all unlikely that the teachings of Socrates would have evolved into an actual religion by now. Instead, and perhaps quite fortunately, it remains what it is today: a philosophy, a perspective, a guide one may choose to live his or her life. More if you want. Less if you want. That's the beauty of it.


For me, Socrates' teachings and Plato's writings were hugely influential. Learning about Socrates paved the way for me to open my mind to whatever level it is today, of which I can say no more than is certainly leaps and bounds more open than it was prior. That was the crux of Socrates' system: Open-mindedness in its purest form. Accepting nothing, denying nothing. A true agnostic. 


You might think that with such open-mindedness and acceptance it would be hard to accomplish anything at all. But Socrates accomplished plenty, far more than his fair share. Socrates was a Destroyer, something I have to respect. His target was illusions, the illusions of anyone who would expose theirs to him. Socrates claimed to know just one thing: that he knew not one thing. By refusing to accept (NOT ignoring) any alleged fact, belief, or judgment, and applying critical thought and scientific scrutiny to any and all ideas and concepts, Socrates found a way to equalize us all, to identify hypocrisy, and pave the way for everything from overthrowing tyrants to advanced scientific exploits.


Once I could conceive of that state of mental unbinding, I blew up every wall of my belief structure I could. I've been slowly digging through the rubble ever since, but I belive I am far closer to truth this way than I was before. For the mind does not do its best work in a structure; it does its best work when it is given freedom to roam and explore. Sometimes a storm comes and it needs to be able to build and inhabit a shelter to stay the night. But just as important is that it is able to leave the shelter when it can and go find new things. Carry some with you, leave some behind, but pick up and examine absolutely everything you can.


At the same time, if one is to follow Socrates' teachings, it is important to accept one's limitations as a human, and to not be discouraged leaving most, if not absolutely all, of life's questions eternally unanswered. The famous "shadows on the cave wall" analogy exemplifies Socrates'/Plato's true grasp of the importance and sheer vastness of perspective.


Perspective, humility, uncertainty, fluidity, and the willingness to question. These are the things that Plato's writings on Socrates have taught me. Feel free to discuss your thoughts on these men or pick your own philosopher to dissect in such a way. And understand that someone you value as a "philosopher" does not have to be found in a dusty old textbook of long-dead men. Anyone who lived or taught a certain way that has influenced you.

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The destructor has gone

August 12, 2014 at 3:07 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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