Philosophy and Method
I’m launching a series that’s kinda philosophical in nature. Feels a bit pompous to say that but that really is it: a feeflowing foray into methods and philosophies and what they can teach us about the world.
I’m not attempting to shed any kind of new light here. Though if that happens in an emergent way that’s swell. There are two reasons for doing philosophy or any kind of analysis in my opinion:
1) To discover some new truth
2) Maintenance – understanding why what you know is true, and sharpening your abilities to discern truth and effective philosophies/methods
I will primarily be doing the latter. I think it more important in the same way that exercising regularly is more important than trying to max out.
Generalities and Specifics
When you analyze anything – you do so in either a general or specific way – in a microcosmic or macrocosmic scope.
You either see the forest or the trees.
This well-known concept called perspective bears visiting and revisiting.
That’s the curious thing about philosophy, whenever you run its various algorithms, you come up with iterations that are either entirely new or new to yourself. Which if you’re paying attention will inevitably lead to a deeper appreciation of life and perhaps augmented faculties.
Sort of like expanding your verbal vocabulary will allow you to know more, to express more, the study of philosophy and method: will allow you to know what you don’t know which in a curious reversal will allow you to know more truly.
The hunt for veracity, the pruning of the wild garden of concept, history, and method begins with perspective. It begins with generalities and specifics.
Why come up with these words. Why not just say perspective?
Well, I think that it’s important to highlight the sketching nature of inquiry. It’s not a laserlike, precise, engineering, sort of thing; at least not most of the time. Seeing that the general can be specific and the specific can be the general – will allow the sort of flexibility which will eventually provide the strength of sinew and ligament requisite for the precise and utilitarian glory of a piston or microprocessor.
That is the thing that seems to be forgotten more and more as more and more generations are undergoing the sterile process of common core. Philosophy, you see, is the forefather of mathematics, which is the forefather of science, which is the forefather of the technique that allows for 4g streaming. We seem to have let this fact get a tad dusty.
All these disciplines are various levels of generalities and specifics and often intertwine. Philosophy and mathematics must still be applied to the theories derived from the data derived from the scientific method. Here again is evidence of the fractal nature of inquiry of generalities and specifics.
Philosophy is perhaps the most general brush. The thing that allows us to set the scene, to paint in the background.
The unfortunate thing is that it has gotten a bad name. And it has gotten a bad name because many of its practitioners forget that they are sketching. I’m not at the present talking about the various schools and professional philosophers that you will encounter in any given Philosophy 101 course.
I’m talking about conversation.
I am talking about conversation because everyone does philosophy. Conversation as long as it strays beyond the weather and favorite flavors of ice cream will eventually take a philosophical turn. In fact, one can look at the entire history of inquiry as basically one continuous conversation facilitated by the advent of the printing press, and prior to that, the traditions and practices of various conservatories both secular and religious.
I am not only talking about conversation in general but a more specific type of conversation known as public discourse.
General conversation leads to the specific conversation of public discourse which leads to various societal, technological, legal, artistic, and historic outcomes that are either glorious or tragic.
In a society of frantic actors who all believe themselves to be put upon entrepreneurs, conversation can also get a bad name – And it can get a bad practice.
Empty talk! Actions speak louder than words! Etc. ad naseum.
Well, supposing I told you that there’s a cliff you’re about to fall off, then the value of words will certainly become aparent, and quickly!
Actions are certainly more exciting than conversation and often times more efficacious. Since direct experience at times allows you to learn far more than poring over the most erudite tome, of the most illustrious thinker.
Yet when you’ve had the experience you must be able to contextualize it, in order to more effectively remember it, to be able to share it with others and to know what of the experience was real.
It is here that conversation goes awry because most people don’t contextualize their experiences, they don’t classify it into generalities and specifics very effectively, and share it in a raw sort of form.
This report of impressions while initially useful will if not expounded and improved upon with the rigorous methods of philosophy and logic, eventually lead to faulty conclusions and reinforced biases.
This is why today as always it is painfully apparent that most people, even cautious people, myself included, more often than not simply exchange talking points, and return quickly to the comforting arms of prosaics like: which beer?
One shouldn’t try to force deeper conversations. One should not make it a chore. The thing I am calling for is to be aware of where on the ‘generalities and specifics’ spectrum you find yourself during conversation. This is a call for being better aware of when exactly you are engaging in pundit style banter and smalltalk and when you’ve hit upon something profound.
This ability hinges on the capactiy for philsophy something that arises from a combination of knowledge and practice.
Philosophy is really method, or rather philosophy is the ur-method which allows you to form new methods with structural integrity.
What I am calling for is some reading, is some thinking, is some attention. All thigns which should provide you with the realization that most of your conclusions are lacking. That conversations, ideas, and actions dervied from lacking conclusions will compound into an obfuscating cloud that may compromise your ability to enjoy life and see truth.
It is a difficult thing, that begins with a more careful examination of generalities and specifics of who, what, where, and how? Of words like any, many, some, always, never, etc.
It is a difficult thing that I myself don’t always live up.
Here is an admitedly dry and somewhat impenetrable little volume that may, given some patience, give you a start.
As always thank you for reading.