Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Ahh, Prior I

I've never accepted the idea of A Priori knowledge. For the uninitiated, A Priori knowledge is knowledge that is acquired independently of experience (because it is outside experience). Typically logic and mathematics are claimed to be in this sphere, because in advancing math, one does not typically conduct experiments or similar -- one meditates or calculates -- various philosophers have claimed that the cores of their philosophy are also a priori truths, and thus claim that provided things follow rigourously from that core, their philosophy is thus true. I reject this in the case of philosophy because I don't believe in philosophical truth, and I reject it in the case of mathematics and other general cases because I think that what is claimed under it always fails to be a truth, fails to be a priori, or both. I understand truth as being the degree that something corrisponds to patterns in the universe. Mathematics and philosophy, especially moral philosophy, don't tend to present themselves for this type of measurement. Some would claim there to be other types of truth, but if they are not testable -- if they do not cut possibility space into two or more pieces in their stance, then I think they're something else than a factual statement. As for a priori failings, I don't think that logic or math pass that standard either -- a disconnected, languageless mind would not construct such things - mathematics is an old discipline, but it does seem to require a certain level of education and discipline to grasp. I don't think that the mathematical systems can really claim their axioms to be true -- they can do interesting things given the axioms, but given different axioms, they could probably do similarly interesting (albeit different) things. I can't give a special, claimed nonempirical path to truth a free pass - it fails testability or consider-otherwise-ability, which seems to me to be the foundation of modern thought. I don't think these things are worthless, but I don't see them as being sacred. I think logic in its various applications has been beaten into being useful by tossing out ideas and arguments that didn't work, and doing refactoring to simplify its base, a bit like a piece of code, and using empirical means to reach where it is now, but I think that makes it a child of empiricism, not its own thing.

I understand that none of this is rigourously argued, but I don't think it would be helpful (and possibly not possible) to do so. One of the things I've come to appreciate about continental philosophy is the dominance of themes over logic - there are parts of philosophy that rightly attempt rigour given axioms to work with (even if we consider those axioms nonsacred), but most philosophical argument, I think, comes down to aesthetics. Occam's razor is an example of one type of aesthetic judgement, with later work to pin down those aesthetics into something definite both awkward and intriguing.

This weekend, I think I can say that I finally got my philosophical divorce from Nietzsche. We'll still call each other, and I still respect him, but his notion of the ideal person, which I think is of great importance to my areas of philosophical interest, is considerably different than mine (although there are similarities in areas).

On to the personal.. Greyhound took me to Cleveland on Friday. I hung out with my mom and the pets, went to bed, visited my grandparents (and saw aunt/uncle/cousins), helped move a logpile, cut some logs with an axe, had some good conversation, and then greyhounded back home on saturday night. It went decently well, and the food was pretty good. Greyhound was pretty decent, although they did confiscate my leatherman, a screwdriver, and my pliers on the way back (hopefully they'll actually mail them like they said they would). Nietzsche's Wille zur Macht made for good reading on the trips..

I find it interesting how, given a set number of volunteers/amount of interest in the opensource community, the existence of too many topics can divide interest enough that many projects fail -- this is an important consideration both in understanding the right to fork and software diversity in the opensource community.

Tags: philosophy

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