Friday, 30 December 2016

Thought 430: Transparency of Philosophical Decisions

A philosopher worth his or her salt should make transparently clear the decisions he makes in his philosophising and that govern its content, perhaps also why he is making those decisions and not others and for what purpose

It is a case of answering the question that was once posed to a speaker by a disgruntled attender of his lecture
"De quel lieu parlez-vous ?"
(wherefrom do you speak?)

Pure philosophy is about making decisions as to so-called known unknowables, e.g. the prima causa or first cause that started it all, whether things exist independently of perception or whether perception is all that matters, whether truth exists and is knowable and to what extent and so on.

In particular a decision will have to be made between solipsism, the belief that only the self can be accounted for and no external truth is objectively verifiable, and truth-seeking which by definition posits truth as a knowable quantity if not a quality. 

Positivists, such as the many people who defend the 'science' banner with vociferous and bitter intent whenever others question its methods, ethics and results, rarely have the decency to admit to the decisions, i.e the views first posited as self-evident axioms, that lie beneath their ideology and worldview.

In other words such positivists fail often to come clean about the posited assumptions that drive the content of their theorising and perhaps are not even aware of the axiomatic presumptions they've taken for granted in their discourse.

For even the most secure science of all, mathematics, as I noted in my writing Ideology and Mathematics, is still based in its foundations on axioms understood as principles which are taken as self-evident and not in need of further proof nor, as the case may be, capable of being proved. 

Philosopher Martin Heidegger was keen to point out the metaphysical decisions that governed the birth of modern scientific theory (in particular in his now out of print book What is a Thing?), such as those which informed the works of Galileo and Newton, and that no matter how entrenched and unwavering scientific knowledge claims to be, philosophical decisions were/are always made at some point concerning the aforementioned known unknowables and these decisions are always implied and present in even the most dogmatic and apparently unequivocal of scientific discourses. 

More recently, mainstream-science sociologist and whistleblower, Rupert Sheldrake, made clear in his banned TED talk the odd and sometimes baffling axiomatic ideas that underlie the sacred cow of modern physical science such as, for example, consciousness being an epiphenomenon and nature being akin to a lifeless mechanical machine. He stresses, moreover, how the modern scientific revolution owed much of its axiomatic decisions to theological not to say metaphysical considerations about God and Man which is not something the atheist darwinist Richard Dawkins will ever tell you. 

Thus, I would argue that an ethical and responsible thinker will be aware of and communicate in so far as possible his axiomatic decisions concerning fundamental questions which are by nature speculative and impossible to determine with all-encompassing certainty. 

It is therefore the duty of a given philosophy as opposed to a dogmatic, opinionated discourse to be transparent as to the speculative decisions that govern not only its content but also its very existence.