Passengers embarking on a long, arduous voyage usually like to know their destination. Let me then fill my readers in on where I'm taking them. The following are some of my conclusions.
This page is an attempt at a simplified description, using ordinary language (which will inevitably yield a faulty representation), of the part of this site dealing with my thoughts on Truth, but also the whole explication of my philosophy is an embarrasing mess.
What I attempt to acquire throughout these investigations is knowledge of the truth. I attempt to arrive at knowledge of the truth using a strictly rational method. I use this rational method to determine the limits of rationality itself, what it can know and what it cannot know. Once I reach the limit of what this rational method can tell me, I rationally analyze other methods and then make use of them while explicitly acknowledging the limits of their conclusions.
A strict following of rational method leads me to conclude that there is a conscious realm to what has been traditionally called the self, and a different realm, whether it is part of the self or not, that affects the conscious realm. The being and properties of this other realm are unknown and I can never know how much of it can be known, but only that there are myriad nonconscious beliefs and perceptions that affect the conscious realm. In fact, it could itself be conscious, but its consciousness is not this consciousness with which I will deal.
Rationality functions only within what this consciousness can reflect on. Consciousness appears to be a spotlight that can shine on some of these beliefs and perceptions that weren't in consciousness just previously. Eventually conscious rationality appears to be only a sort of "fact checking" correcting or verifying beliefs and perceptions held in the nonconscious.
I already have myriad unconscious beliefs. They form my foundational worldview. The introduction of new present phenomena even in the background field, the introduction of changes in phenomena, of actions by phenomena, of speech acts by phenomena can unconsciously change beliefs. A concsciously present event of the aforementioned can be conscious in various degrees, for example, I hear a noise in the next room and don't focus on it much but I was conscious of it and now I believe my cat is in the next room, or I can completely focus on the belief. All degrees can still correct and rewrite some of my unconscious beliefs and world system, I don't know if all of my beliefs are revisable. Some of these beliefs are also logical inference rules which lead me to one thought from another thought. It seems there are subconscious inference rules as well. As I move about I am continually correcting and rewriting the worldview, by not everything in the world system is correct, and neither are all of my rewrites. So rationality with consciousness is another way of rewriting and is the onlyt way my conscious intentional mind can verify and correct. I constantly have consciousness rewriting parts of my worldview and use many different methods to do this as well, but rationality has laws that make its own analysis systematic and consistent, so I intentionally try and use that method in search of truth. Rationality is the conscious mental process that determines what a thing is and what thoughts have to follow from it. Logic is an attempt to capture this process in sentences, steps, articulate the rules explicity in a symbolic form. So I want to use rationality and form explicity conscious beliefs that I know are true so I can correctly rewrite my world system. But the real world changes faster than my world system ever could, and I don't even know if I have access to correct all beliefs in my unconscious worldview, sometimes I learn something consciously but I discover I still have a contrary subconscious belief, so sometimes I don't rewrite it. I occasionally witness myself in tension trying to rewrite an intractable belief that concsious rationality has proved wrong. So I want to correct as much of it as I can but because I'm limited in doing so and I don't even know how limited I am, I want to at least have a correct worldview as far as I have the access to it. (I must look deep into unconscious truth). If I believe something I hold it to be true, whether it is actually true or false. My beliefs are actually true or false. Beliefs can be justified or unjustified. Justified beliefs can be actually true or false. So I can't distinguish, in conscious analysis, between justified true beliefs or justified false beliefs. In other words, I can't tell if a belief is known or not, which means I can't tell if a belief is true or false. Although it is still possible to have knowledge with this definition (an unconscious knowledge, or a knowledge that you don't know that you know it), depending of course on what is meant by justified, you will just never be able to distinguish true beliefs from false ones consciously. What I'm after is a way to distinguish true beliefs from false ones. And I can dependings upon the scope of the assertion in the belief. Anything where we identify or equate a particular in one category with a particular in a another category will not necessarily follow, so it can't be rationally determined and is always subject to doubt. Truth is a relation between an assertion and part of reality, two different categories. In order for truth to be in consciousness, both categories of truth must be within consciousness, and one must necessarily lead to the other, identity or category logic appear to be the only way this happens, Other routes can't be ruled out. So knowledge is belief attended by the consciously focused on presence of the correspondence (as identity) of assertion with the part of reality it points at, awareness of a belief's truth. This awareness occurs only in the present, so beliefs in my worldview that aren't currently justified by awareness of their truth, aren't known. However, definitions and logical deductions still are known, regardless of time. I object to knowledge being justified, true belief because justified seems to already include a notion of knowledge itself in it, it seems that knowledge should begin as a state of completion already at the finish line, then investigate how one gets to the finish line. Justified can include a notion of the finish line but doesn't tell me what the finish line is like, it just describes the process of reaching the finish line. There is no judgment in knowledge, judgment is an attempt to get at truth.
In deductive logic one false premise undermines the ability to determine the truth value. So if our goal is to be rational or to have true beliefs then this rationally gets us no closer to our goal than not doing it. The conclusions have no justified claim to be true. This is parallel if premises are left out, and we can never know for most situations that some relevant premises have not been left out, only in simple premises is this assured. Simple phenomena can't be wrong, simple definitions about simple phenomena can't be wrong, this is the only way to have secure deduction because it is the only form where rationality can't conceive of additional possibilities altering the conclusion. Any deductive argument that involves even one complex phenomena, or even one complex definition, the conclusion isn't necessarily true. A logical argument is only truth preserving in an non real world exclusionary context, we can't match it with reality because we can't guarantee its limited scope, that means a sound argument necessarily gives us a conclusion with a truth value, but its truth value could be an opposite truth value in actuality. (This could be a basis for proving empirically that one or more premises are false or excluded later on).
Truth is a difficult subject. People use this same word to talk about completely different things, so we can dismiss a lot of others' talk about truth because it doesn't deal with what I am dealing with here. I am interested in determining which representations of reality, in thought and experience, correspond accurately with reality itself. This is the Truth that I am writing about, all others might be interesting or useful, but they are not about thoughts corresponding to reality. I will provide an argument for this concept in the exposition. A further complication of Truth is that it ends up being a part of a coherent system.
I began seeking truth and investigating everything rationally. Eventually, this led me to rationally analyze rationality itself, as well as other methods, to clarify them and to define their boundaries. And ultimately, this led to rationality yielding a rational critic of rationality itself as well as of other methods.
My view is that the most exact and objective taxonomical categorization is always two groups: the positive, and the negation of the positive. For example, everything that is can be categorized into cats or not-cats. For simplification's sake, I will ignore this and focus on the categories I think are important, though I realize others can be drawn. I break philosophy into three main categories of purpose: to determine what we should believe, to determine what we should do, and for the sake of enjoyment. What we should believe involves epistemology, theories on method, ontology, metaphysics, etc. What we should do is pragmatics, ethics, and the good life. Enjoyment is philosophy done for the sake of intellectual pleasure, aesthetics, creation, originality, etc. Although an endeavor may involve more than one category, the primary intention of my endeavors on this site falls under the first category, establishing what we should believe. I see it as a logical consequence that determining what we should believe also determines what we should believe we should do. However, a specific small section of this site does also focus on the enjoyment that comes from creating a theory for its own creative, aesthetic pleasures.
It is my belief that throughout philosophy's history, philosophy, generally speaking, has sought a Platonic ideal, an absolute truth proven by an absolute rationality. But as with all Platonic Forms, all we ever encounter are particulars, including the particular of the current perspective, insight, idea, and even the logical argument. It is my position that the universe evolves; species evolve; language evolves; individuals evolve; physical objects, fields, and space are constantly changing; I evolve; my personal meanings evolve; my thoughts evolve; my memories evolve; and my consciousness, understanding, perspective, and beliefs evolve. I am many different people, and perspectives, and desires, and thoughts, and beliefs, through time and even at the same time. What makes sense and what is understood is relative, contingent, and evolves. What is reasonable is relative, contingent, and evolves. The logical conclusion is a particular, so viewed from a higher perspective is relative, contingent, and evolves. I think unbiased, accurate reflection and observation militates for these views. This is not to say that there are no absolutes or no constants, but only that currently we appear to be epistemologically divorced from them.
Logic deals with how one thought is connected to another thought, so in a sense, logic deals with how we think. My concept of reality is not logically identical to how I think about things, even how I necessarily think about things. Logic is not necessarily metaphysics. It could be, but it also could not be. It is unknown, but what is known is that logic at this particular time is limited in its power to give me information about reality. In other words, the particular logical argument of the present shows that reality does not necessarily have to conform to logical argument.
Logical bivalent truths seem all that are stable for me in this constantly flowing world, but even which of these is affirmed and which is denied, and what the logically necessary conclusion is can change with the introduction or adjustment of new premises (i.e. experiences). All that is for me is the current particular logical argument. This is humbling, but is itself tentative.
So I have a theory to describe what I believe is happening. What I propose is that there are myriad collections of variously related thoughts called "thought contexts". Thought contexts are made up of a variety of feelings, moods, thoughts, and experiences. Our minds are constantly switching between different thought contexts, usually without our conscious awareness, which is the source of an untold number of disagreements. Our thoughts are interpreted and understood through the particular thought context we are using at the time. However, certain thought contexts cannot be combined with other thought contexts without becoming incoherent.
One of the foundational ideas of my system, which I was influenced toward by Bertrand Russell's position about not having a thought of a contradiction (which I believe I have also found in Plato), is that there are certain propositions that people maintain which are actually incoherent given the thought context they occur within, but there are some thoughts that are consistent and coherent with other thoughts. I think that people confuse themselves with ideas that are contradictory, but people don't realize they are confused about the deeper implications of what they maintain. To give a simple example, a person might believe that all men are mortal, and also believe that Socrates is a man, but then they also maintain that Socrates is immortal. The person can successfully jump back and forth between believing different propositions, but their system of thoughts as a whole is ultimately incoherent. The foundational idea of my system is that some thoughts are incoherent and don't actually exist together in a system of thoughts, and other ideas are, in fact, coherent within a system of other thoughts. What I maintain is that ideas that contradict each other cannot be maintained at the same time in the same way by the same person, and such contradictory systems of thought are never actually thought (they don't exist in the mind) but are results from the person jumping between various systems of thoughts without being aware of it; that people are simply unaware of the complexities of how their brain thinks about things, and that from a higher vantage point what they proclaim is nonsense.
This would mean that some ideas can be believed together and some ideas can't be believed together. With this awareness of our mental limitations I attempt to show that there are systems of ideas that we can dismiss because they cannot be coherently thought and other systems that we are forced to choose from. This makes no claim on the metaphysical realm, this only claims that there are certain propositions that are not legitimate proposals for us to consider about the metaphysical realm or anything else for that matter.
In my view, reality and the truth we speak of it are reduced to psychology. For me the Platonic dream of transcendence to reality is unobtainable, as least at the present time in the context of the present premises that I'm aware of, and therefore of the current particular logical argument. However,although it is reduced to psychology, it is my argument that there are current intractable, unavoidable, in short, current necessary facts of our psychology, these views being among them.
Everything I experience appears to be particulars, but this allows me to still construct perfectly logical arguments from my experience. Since some phenomena are given to us, it is not legitimate to maintain that these phenomena are not given to us, indeed it is inconceivable to me. And these phenomena are then used as the elements making up the complex world that we experience. Any belief that is completely reducible to presented phenomena is rational. Any belief that is not completely reducible to presented phenomena is arbitrary and lacks rational justification. The main focus of my system is epistemological and methodological, concluding that there are certain thoughts that have to be believed as true, the present subjective phenomena, whatever the rest of reality may be, and to deny these particular thoughts as true appears to be merely confusion and nonsense.
Nonetheless, for all of these limitations of absolute statements, the concepts of reality, truth, and knowledge are known, and offer a foundational thought context to currently determine what the limits of knowledge are given my current circumstances, and determine some knowledge within these boundaries. These true concepts cohere together to form an unassailable foundation (like the earth itself) from which to build off of to a determined height. But it does not suffer from the disconnected relativism of a coherent theory of truth because these concepts are also determined to be grounded in present phenomenal experience itself. Therefore it is not arbitrary like other coherent systems. But the rational method also doesn't take us very far to give us all the knowledge that we would hope for and so at that point one must get by in the world with nonrational methods.
Most of our life must depend on animal faith, an innate subconscious reasoning, but we still use rationality to oversee it and correct where it can, through inevitably faulty but practically valuable methods of reason and science.
The search for truth requires a number of rational norms to get us to what we seek. But given that, at this point, an absolute ethic or morality or meaning to life cannot be known. From this point we don't deal with truth but with pragmatism, and a pragmatism that helps us meet our goals and values but keeping itself in check since it realizes that each individuals personal values are no more absolutely valuable than any other persons or creatures for that matter. This encourages us in a more modest, openminded, nonjudgmental, tolerant disposition, one where recognition of value pluralism, liberty, personal pragmatism, and equality are consistent with what we know about knowledge. To promote this pluralistic balance, liberty, and equality, since no one set of values or rights should be ventured to be taken absolutely true, we should promote in ourselves virtues that tend to preclude violations of this balance. And positive psychology, science, reason, and wisdom should pragmatically be incorporated to promote a value pluralism to facilitate human happiness, personal freedom, and security that would more likely ensure individuals staying within reasonable limits and maintaining equilibrium with each other and the living creatures around them.
We started off with a hope of acheiving objectivity. Why? What validity does this notion hold? Why is it to be sought like a God? It appears to me to be a confused illusory notion, based on logical errors, and without any absolute value in it, and the personal value in it appears arbitrarily placed. As humans we almost naturally seek something greater than ourselves, seeking the absolute. But morality, value, meaning, wonder, love, and truth itself are all essentially and importantly subjective positions in a very crucial sense, on an objective thing that as far as I can tell is void and empty of any of these things, and though we may want them to be these ways objectively, what sense does this make? How would they be different from the subjective form that is real? What could they offer that is different, greater, better, or more? We may be dismayed that there isn't more, but why this is so is what truly should be analyzed, because as far as I can tell, what we are is enough!
My thoughts are divided into two main divisions: the rigorous, strictly rational system of thoughts; and the less rigorous, reasonable thoughts.
The rigorous, rational system has three approaches: the conceptual approach, the skeptical approach, and the practical approach. Right now I only have a small part of the Conceptual approach up.
The less rigorous, speculative thoughts make arguments from a more traditional philosophical standpoint (i.e. starting from arbitrarily accepted presuppositions), but will still reflect some conclusions from the rigorous, formal system.
The Conceptual Approach
I will try and use common concepts to describe what is happening here. I begin by including a possible background history, arrived at by reflection, that may or may not have been a causal factor in leading me to the acceptance of particular notions of reality, truth, and knowledge, and also maybe lead me to ask the driving question that informed and created my system. I don't see those reflections as having any bearing on the justification of the system. I describe the particular concept of reality that my entire system is based on, which determines all subsequent questions and logical deductions. This one specific concept of reality determines what I mean by truth, knowledge, and proof.
I define truth, reality, belief, knowledge and they form a foundational thought context from which to understand everything else. All we have for starting premises, for building blocks to construct our world-views from, is phenomena presented to our own subjective consciousness. Phenomena are the only evidence we have from which to draw conclusions. This positive approach reflects on what is presented to consciousness, noting phenomena as they are. As phenomena are the only things presented, all conclusions are deduced from presented phenomena. Distinctions and similarities are recognized in the nature of presented phenomena creating innumerable natural categories and concepts. One category is of sensory phenomena, another category is of abstract-interpretive phenomena associated to the sensory phenomena. This first category is objective; the second category is subjective and contigent. Concepts of Truth, belief, knowledge, are found within the presented sensory phenomena of sight, touch, time, and space; and since my intention is to find the Truth, the concept of Truth is employed with the presented phenomena to consciously realize what is true.
What is found is that phenomena like relations, similarity, difference, intentionality, emotions, universals, ideas, and more, all are just as present as phenomena like a trope of red in the firetruck I presently see, etc. These present and past phenomena are the evidence used in more complex processes of interpretation which give rise to religious, scientific, and common sense theories of the world, which can be seen to possess the phenomenon of faith and the use of contingent, groundless concepts, instead of being reducible to pure sensory phenomena.
The basic conclusion of the formal system is that I am stuck in a subjective prison, and the only things I can know are: that I am in a subjective prison, what is inside my cell, and the bars and walls that make up the boundaries of that cell.
The Sceptical Approach
The skeptical approach starts with my being in the everyday world with a host of beliefs and then beginning to think critically about what is true and justified proceeding to an analysis of accepted beliefs and proposed theories and explanations. It is essentially the Socratic Method and the approach of DesCartes in the Meditations on First Philosophy, continuing to ask questions and critically analyze until one finds an unassailable foundation to build off of.
The unassailable "first philosophy" is found in the concepts of Truth, Knowledge, Justification (found because I was searching for Truth), and the facts of the phenomena presented to my conscious mind. The conclusions deduced are that the rational position is to remain agnostic about almost all of metaphysics and ethics, and that rationality is a very exact process that mostly just tells us how ignorant we are, revealing that all but this one of our methods to acquire truth are not rational but are rather faith based in some way, and are ultimately arbitrarily accepted, including our religious, scientific, and common sense theories and methods.
The Pragmatic Approach
The pragmatic approach seeks utility towards acheiving one's subjective ends. It is believed at first that knowing the truth would be of great practical benefit, so an investigation into knowing the truth is conducted. I eventually discover that the knowledge that I can have is extremely limited and so other methods must be used in order to function and acheive my ends. I investigate some of the other methods and their limitations and uses.
This division will present arguments based on less secure and questionable foundations like unquestioned presuppositions, induction, and what I referred to as "the most reasonable conclusion" but I later found was already an established method called "abduction". In light of the agnostic deductions of the formal system, parts of this division will encourage second-best, pragmatic consolations while reflexively recognizing this move and acknowledging it for what it is.
The basic conclusion of the informal system is that we are stuck seeing the world a certain way and acting a certain way because of the particular subjective values that we hold and the particular limits of our subjective minds.
The speculative division will make use of some of the conclusions and arguments from the other divisions to weave together a possible metaphysical theory accounting for the presented facts, just one more among the many other metaphysical theories already proposed in philosophy. This division also recognizes its nonrational nature and does not attempt to claim truth as its aim, it is for enjoyment and a possible explanation.
My system is based entirely on a particular concept of reality. The details of my system were determined by being what is appears to me to be the only thoroughly rational, coherent possibility if the concept of reality is given central importance, i.e. the arche for the system. My understanding will only allow for the possibility of there being other systems that are coherent and consistent but not thoroughly rational, and other systems that are thoroughly rational and coherent but do not place central importance on the concept of reality, and for other systems that put the concept of reality in a central position but that are ultimately incoherent. This is also to say that other systems may be true while mine is false, but then they are either hit upon by chance or found through a method other than rationality. If they are found through a method other than rationality, then rationality tells me that I have no way of discovering these methods except through chance, and so it concludes there is no way of knowing which system is true or false and this releases me and everyone else, as far as I can comprehend, from all reasonable responsibility in belief, and consequently in action. If I cannot even think something how can I be expected to follow it? If I cannot think of something I can only flail about in blind faith, and rationality tells me that following something I can't think of and trying not to follow that same thing are practically indistinguishable.
I come to a position of agnosticism on absolute values and morality, and so all that I know exist are my own personal subjective values. Using methods other than rationality, I conclude that other people also have their own personal values, but there is no justification for mine or theirs being more valuable in an absolute sense. A use of epoche keeps the view of this to the fact that everyone has their own personal values, none of which are more important than any others, so an attempt is made to maximize the ability to acheive personal values by everyone, but to maximize their ability to be acquired a logical equilibrium must be found resulting in the construction of a liberty principle. The liberty principle then dictates for us guidelines to maximize the ability to acquire personal values, those that must be logically excluded are obviously the minimum of those that cannot coexist, in some ways a harm principle. This leads to a negative libertarian system, one that resists oppression, tyranny, control of others, and maximizes the value pluralism of people's subjective values.