Saturday, September 29, 2012

Square One Needs a Square


It occurs to me that the last post might have sent the wrong message about what location I'm taking as my starting point for this little deconstructing-then-reconstructing-my-worldview exercise. I haven't been in an academic setting for some time, and my sense of fealty to any particular thinker's system of terminology had more to do with professorial rigor than personal preference even when that sense of fealty wasn't dead. It's a failing you all will simply have to bear with. That said, it dawned on me that the overall tone in which I expressed my plans lends itself to a rather Cartesian interpretation. I want to distance myself from that. This project isn't the undertaking of radical doubt; really it's more like radical poking. There's nothing that I anticipate less excitedly than descending into the sub-basement of philosophy and spending an hour explaining my level of conviction concerning the fact of my own existence. That sort of thing is why axioms exist.

So let's lay down some axioms and give some definition to our starting point.

I'm not Descartes, so we'll assume for the sake of the argument that I exist. Not only that, but I'll do you the favor of assuming that you exist as well. In fact, let's just agree that the universe as such, and the entities in it, all exist and aren't figments or holograms or whatever is trendy to blithely assert these days. I don't keep up.

To keep things simple, let me just lay down these propositions as axiomatic:

  1. Existence of the self
  2. Existence of the world/universe
  3. Contingency of the world/universe (i.e., no infinite regression, as it is insanely boring)
These seem pretty common sense to me. It's not that they're axiomatic in the strictly philosophical sense, but the arguments have been done to death, and honestly I don't think the discussion is worth having unless we can agree that we're there to have the argument, surrounded by a real environment, and that causation doesn't extend back ad infinitum (which argument I see not only as boring, which I have already mentioned, but exceedingly silly). From these three, I will posit the following, additional corollaries: there is such a thing as objective truth, and it is knowable by human beings. I feel comfortable with that assertion because if we can be confident that there are individuals living in a finite universe, then we know the basic truth that they exist; and once we get that far, we find ourselves able to say things about the manner and trappings of that existence, so that the conversation going forward takes a very ontological tone.

All of this sounds fine by me. Now to take a couple of days to see if there are any objections, sort them out, and move on to more complex propositions.

By the way, if there are any suggestions or preferences out there as to what precise direction to go in, I'll entertain any reasonable suggestions. I've left the field deliberately broad, in case someone has a preference.

See you in a few.

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