Decius, I want to appalud you for being able to present an argument with polish and clarity. Why this is anything more than the most elementary of skills I don't know, but next to some of the semi-literate garbage you see on this site, it is a virtue indeed. For my part, I admit that the suggestive murk of my posts hasn't really helped my case. Yes - mostly, they are more posture than poise, ponderous, image-mad, teeming with archaisms, slaked over in churning prolixity, emotional in a way that bespeaks an unquiet mind, packed to the brim with pasty metaphors: in short, the result of unerring fingers and a wonky brain. Here - mental stability permitting - I will do my best to use my words with economy.
Chris: As you have probably realized by now, your statement is wrong for you failed to understand my statement. I am correct for I choose the most probable truth in a world of probability, yet by definition admit that it could also be wrong. This definition is clarified, clearly, by "a world of probability".
No, Decius. What is interesting is that although Chris does indeed misunderstand your post, he is still right. That's just how WRONG you are. Your probability argument is specious at best; at worst, it is an exhibition of unprecedented stupidity. Behind the cultivated polish of your prose, a plodding mind feasts on perfunctory common places; despite a jazzy picture and a honed facility for expression, you really are no better than the mindless drones who infest this site, and the tendentious trash which you've posted on my screen makes me quiver with anger. I feel that I should compose myself: then again, doesn't an arrow 'quiver' the instant before it is dispatched? Let me just compose.
The first thing that I want to say is that I think you should shut up about the probability thing. I've said it countless times, but I'll say it again: I'm not talking about the assumptions which inform our actions in everyday life. I credit myself with having an inquisitive mind, and there is no want of idealism in the way that I approach the subject of 'knowledge'. Thinking, learning... pruning and adding to our storehouses of knowledge, etc - this undoubtedly constitutes a journey, and a journey of the best kind: for it is one without a specified destination.
That said, let's not confuse temperament with thought. Let's not confuse our feelings with some kind of bumptious 'philosophy'. But I'm not being clear. I'll try set my points out in stages:
1) What I will loosely call Philosophy' (what I define as something more or less synonomous with 'reason' and 'logic' ) does not deal in unsubtantiated assumptions. It is the very apotheosis of philosophy to bring probability into it. It may be prudent to do so in most situations in life, but anything that we cannot be irrefutably
proved is condmened to the philosophical bestiary. At the risk of you accusing me of "not thinking for myself", I'll point out that this is how Descartes defined the task of philosophy, and that this legacy lives on in philosophical fields today. To those who say: "Well, nothing can be irrefutably
proved" I can only laugh. This is the singular truth mankind possesses, and it would be more widely acknowledged if it were not so mundane. Of course nothing can be proved
! How could it? And that is exactly the point I was making, albeit opaquely, in my original post: the only absurdity is that man's capacity for 'reason' has put into his head the hilariously nebulous idea that there can be a concrete, eternal, indestrucible stock of truths!
It is clear that Chris has a much more acute grasp of what philosophy is: it is a quest to live one's life in full view of our ignorance, so that we might cure ourselves of that myopic sickness of the mind we call 'reason'.
2) Okay, so one of your arguments is that I'm a compulsive categoriser, is it? I like to pigeon hole, do I? Can I just quote one of you comments?
I begin to understand what it is that you are as I read more that you state... for you are not what I originally thought.
I'm sure you've realised why I'm quoting this. I could be forgiven here for thinking that it is YOU who is trying to pigeon-whole ME, and however presumptuous that is, you at least had the good grace to try to amend whatever caricature of me you hold in you head.
3) If I may say so, there is a stark difference between our particular lusts for pattern-finding. As befits the general tone of my posts, I was being experimental. I was testing the waters in a - seemingly doomed - bid to tempt out the unargued presumptions behind your arguments. There is more than this, though. For it is instructive that you accuse my arguments of being "incomplete". Well, first of all, I want to thank you for the compliment, though I sort of assumed that I what I had to say would span more than a few measley pages. Secondly, I want you to get your head out your arse and realise that philosophical discussions are by necessity technical, referential, and overwhelmingly polymorphous in genealogy. You say that my arguments come up short because:
...your thoughts are not your own, but that of the class of philosopher you have chosen to pigeonhole yourself with.
But the point is that these classifications are not simply redundant pieces of jargon, but provide a useful shorthand for complex philosophical argument. I agree that they are often used a screen for feeble intelligence, and that they often enslave rather than enlighten the user; as a student, I know this all too well. Unfortunately for you though, you've picked on the wrong person. I don't fit that particular 'pigeon-hole'. I was merely trying to make sense of our hopelessly compressed and as yet half-baked assertions by setting them in philosophical context. Who knows, maybe it was the wrong approach. Maybe I served to confuse rather than illuminate. But to decide that you 'understand' me on the basis of this approach is just ludicrous.
4) As a result, you've conflated weaknesses in expression with weaknesses in meaning. This is to a very large extent my fault.
Further, you have admitted that you do carry with you a bias in the form of "philosophical baggage", as you label it. This honesty is quite commendable, but does detract from the validity of your statements.
The suggestion seems to be that you yourself aren't burdened with any "philosophical baggage". I can say with a heavy heart that this is symptomatic of the spectacular arrogance of our times. It evidences with perfect adroitness the genral culture of philistinism which is everywhere present, one which you first showed signs of when you said:
In doing so, although you may absorb as much information as you can from this set group, the thoughts you present are incomplete primarily because you have not discovered these truths yourself.
Surely a mature guy like you knows that nobody can live purely by his own efforts? Nobody ever really discovers a "truth" for himself. Of course, one must really internalise and understand to its depths this "truth" in order for it to have any claim to such a name. That is self-evident. In fact, you yourself said so a little while ago: I remember you saying something to the effect of "Mathematicians don't invent, they progress". Most absurd of all is the suggestion that I'm not worth litsening to because
I know what I'm talking about - that, somehow, my reading into the subject disadvantages me in some way. It's santiimonious pap if I've ever heard any.
6) As you clearly don't know what I'm talking about, and moreover aren't competent to judge the validity of what I say, I'll refrain from launching into a detailed defense of a doctrine which, in all honesty, I espoused with my tongue firmly lodged inside my cheek. But since you insist on inflicting your dreary brand of closet Hegelianism on us, here I am now. Perhaps I am at fault. After all, did I really expect people to talk about PHILOPSOPHY on this damned forum?
(Cue threats of expulsion and a wave of routine but impeccably polished tit-bits of beer-mat wisdom).