My Philosophy

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2013-07-13 00:32

Here is an introductory explanation of my philosophy:

What do you think about it from an Objectivist perspective?

I've read a lot of Rand and I still think this way. She didn't change my mind about these things. Did I miss something? Did Rand miss something? Or are our ideas compatible?

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So you want an example like

curi's picture

So you want an example like deciding what to eat for dinner?

step 1 brainstorming examples: mexican restaurant, thai restaurant, cook pasta at home

step 2 criticism examples: not in mood for mexican, fasta pasta hasn't arrived in mail yet so rather not cook pasta without it

step 3 rejection: reject the criticized options

conclusion: thai (and look, no infinite regress happened)

does that really help? is that more convincing? should i add a criticism of thai, so they run out of options, and return to brainstorming and think of japanese?

my guess is that this example wouldn't help. you want a certain type of example. or examples of certain things and not others. or something. i'm not sure what. do you know?

do you want an example of irrationally trying to decide what to do for dinner and getting stuck in an infinite regress? i cannot give a realistic example of that because no one does that. they don't follow their own epistemology consistently. often, they follow mine. so mine can seem trivial and common sense and have boring examples, and theirs has no examples. well ... sometimes. they aren't consistent. but any example i could give of people irrationally doing some other epistemology, some people would make that particular mistake but many others would not, they'd make some other mistake. and perhaps not be self-aware enough to recognize that a relevant example has anything to do with them.

worked examples about how to think kinda always come out trivial or very long. real thinking in your life is always contextual, and your context is very complicated. my context is also very complicated, and every other adults' context. and each person's is different. i can't give an example that assumes my context. there is no complex context all my readers share. there are some elements in common but if you want to get into hard cases in real lives then the differences between people play a large role.

BTW i do give examples in my linked work. for example biking and running example, concert example, examples of irrational things parents say, 2+2, information overload, gps navigator, math problem. tooth brushing, bedtime, involuntary school attendance. ice cream, staples, paper clips, dog, bathroom, tv, painting, disneyland, hawaii, european vacation, physics, religion. All these things are used in/as examples. also parenting stuff and tcs itself is an applied example of epistemology.

Suppose i gave an extended example from the history of science. suppose i could show how Galileo did things in line with my epistemology. would that help? i don't think it's a good idea. it wouldn't be an honest test. if he'd written journal entries about how much of an inductivist he was, it would change nothing. he could be wrong about how he thought. people often are. if some opponent debated me on the historical facts and i lost, i wouldn't change my mind about the philosophy. my philosophy doesn't depend on those historical facts. (No one's does. You don't see any inductivists conceding when a successful scientist like David Deutsch says induction is a myth and he's never used it once. Nor would they concede in epistemology if Galileo left behind journal entries rejecting induction. And that's fine, these issues shouldn't be decided by the authority of the claims of some successful scientists.) BTW Popper did go over some historical examples and anyone who cares to can read that, but so far those examples have yet to convince many people.

when examples are merely illustrations and written to fit your philosophy, and have much less detail than real life, they can seem contrived (like my restaurant example above). examples with irrationality often seem contrived too and people often deny they would do the irrational thing, and they might even be right, they are often inconsistent about what they do.

for examples about how people evaluate ideas, basically all real examples are vague and confusing. and if you make them clear they become contrived and unrealistic. real people are vague and confusing about how they think through issues. how do you give useful examples here?

examples that have to do with internal states of the minds of people are particularly difficult too. suppose people are finding a common preference about what restaurant to go to. one initially wants thai, one initially wants mexican, they decide on japanese. is that example helpful? does it even illustrate a common preference? it's really ambiguous. it's unclear if they actually changed their preferences and now fully prefer the japanese option, or they compromised. but how do you make the example unambiguous? if you state that they both now prefer japanese to their initial preference in every way with no reservations, i think it just comes off like a contrived repetition of the philosophy, not a useful example.

so there's lots of difficulties with giving examples. what do you think? do you have any solutions?

also you say you found some things unconvincing but did not point out a way anything i said is false. if you have no refutations of any substantive point, and the only issue is you read a relatively small fraction of one book worth of stuff and don't yet understand everything – and there is lots more and you even have the opportunity to ask questions – then i don't see any reason to give up. no other philosopher has ever had much success explaining new ideas to a general audience in a small number of short pieces. i think maybe your expectations are too high. communicating philosophy ideas which are new to someone is really hard and these essays are meant more as a starting point for discussion and further study, not an ending point. typically understanding much philosophy involves a lot of back-and-forth, not just reading things for general audiences but also getting some personalized answers (either by creating these oneself, which is hard, or if possible by asking people familiar with the ideas).

curi's picture

Please note: I don't mean to discourage your writing; I really enjoyed the exercise. I appreciate that you put together that collection of links for those interested in studying your essays.

--Dan Edge

General Feedback's picture


I've now read about a dozen of your essays. They have merit and display great intelligence. But so far they are unconvincing, and I'm not drawn in to read more. The #1 reason for this is the lack of practical examples. You present many rules, logical chains of thought, and theoretical evaluations of potential ideas. But you do not tie them to the real world. There is probably more merit in your papers than I see, but I can't get past the seeming rationalism.

For example, from your Regress Problems essay:

Step 1) You can suggest any ideas you want. There's no rules, just anything you have the slightest suspicion might be useful. The source of the ideas, and the method of coming up with them, doesn't matter to anything. This part is easy. 

Step 2) You can criticize any idea you want. There's no rules again. If you don't understand it, that's a criticism -- it should have been easier to understand. If you find it confusing, that's a criticism -- it should have been clearer. If you think you see something wrong with it, that's a criticism -- it shouldn't have been wrong it that way, *or* it should have included an explanation so you wouldn't make a mistaken criticism. This step is easy too. 

Step 3) All criticized ideas are rejected. They're flawed. They're not good enough. Let's do better. This is easy too. Only the *exact* ideas criticized are rejected. Any idea with at least one difference is deemed a new idea. It's OK to suggest new ideas which are similar to old ideas (in fact it's a good idea: when you find something wrong with an idea you should try to work out a way to change it so it won't have that flaw anymore). 


You need to guide the reader through this progression.  I know I can "suggest any ideas [I] want," but please select a few for me.  Show me how they fit the pattern you are describing.  How does this apply to my life?  Can I use these principles to help me decide whether or not to ask out that girl from work?  How so?  Without such grounding, I can easily become lost and lose interest.  Most of your work proceeds in this way: polemics without reference to real-life decisions.

I would like to see you connect the blood test example in Epistemology Without Weights to the rest of the essay.  Using that same example, how would Objectivist epistemology arrive at the incorrrect conclusion, while yours (or Poppers) would arrive at the correct conclusion?  If that example is not good, give me another one?

--Dan Edge  

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