an obession with first principles

Reflecting Again

Posted: Sunday Feb 6th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Dialogue, In the News, Philosophising | View Comments

t. The challenge of the democratic, developed world is a quieter rebellion: against a bankruptcy not just of the pocketbook, but of meaning. It’s not to take a stand against a dictator, but to take a stand against an unenlightened, nihilistic, hyperconsumerist, soul-suckingly unfulfilling, lethally short-termist ethos that inflicts real and relentless damage on people, society, the natural world, and future generations…

Some say it’s impossible. Me? I believe that in a world of bogus prosperity, what’s impossible is for the status quo to stand. Stop Dumb Growth

I have to say I agree. Value (what makes true wealth, not just dollar signs) is no longer disseminated to the people. The people must now create their own value and wealth. And I can say those in my generation are beginning to do that. Many are returning to the roots of physical creation by building and fashioning. Often, very high end items. Many are taking to their own kitchens rather than eating in restaurants – again. making specialty food. Fewer, but some, are going so far back as to grow their own food. And even more people of my generation are becoming entrepreneurs eschewing any large institution as their employer or chief guardian of value and wealth.

The large question on my mind is what will happen in the bridge of our generation and the one before us. Will half attempt to hold up current institutions and be crushed? Will everyone move out of the way and let them fall? What will rise to replace them? “May you live in exciting times” indeed.

Models of Knowing

Posted: Wednesday Jan 12th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Dialogue, Epistemology | View Comments

Over at Maxistentialism Max writes about the epistemological problem of observations, and our own models of the world. He doesn’t have comments, so I decided to respond here (Hi, Max). How do you know if what you believe about what you observe is actually true? We build up models of the world and map data onto them. Only when enough data (and we are conscious of it) doesn’t match are we free to redraw our model of the world we observe.

I claim that the only escape from this epistemological trap is science

I think he takes it as a blow to his claim that Stephen Hawking doesn’t think this is accomplishable. I don’t think it is either (Max, take a read of Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi, a chemist and philosopher who also doesn’t think it is possible). But what I find really funny is that St. Augustine in the 4th century pretty much came to the same conclusions regarding epistemology (I’d recommend St. Augustine’s Theory of Epistemology by Bubacz – you’re likely to only be able to find that in a good library.)

The Hitchens Brothers

Posted: Saturday Sep 25th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Dialogue, In the News | View Comments

Great interview. Perhaps they ought to settle their family issues before they write more.