Chapter Twenty Five – Philosophy on Its Own Terms by Jonathan A. Weiss Esq.
Philosophy begins in wonder. Philosophy ends in wonder. Philosophers can question any proposition or claim. Philosophers can consider all principles, patterns, and propositions presented. A philosophy itself requires persistent inquiry, propositional development, and a system for their inclusion in order to further understanding of experience, human endeavors, and fundamental principles, probing the reality’s richness, evidenced in nature and humanity.
Engaging in philosophy may not answer all the questions raised by reflecting on one’s experience with intellectual, emotional, and perceptual advances. It should clarify the questions, eliminate bad ideas, and educate those engaged in new insights, possibilities, systematic relationships. Personal growth, fulfilment, often enjoyment are achieved in implicit, explicit, reflective immersion. Philosophy, as a domain of thought or an academic area examines philosophies, mainly classics and contemporary. The individual philosophies therein studied, offering insights, visions, and usually systems, explore philosophical scope, elements, and challenges. What is accepted as true or “given” faces degrees of doubt, hopefully properly designed to be appropriate, illuminating, and suggestive. Individual developing experience, cultural patterns and principles, the achievements in all intellectual, artistic, and creative enterprises furnish relevant factors necessarily included for progress. Our own experience with observation and perception through the senses and intuition contributes, participates, and gains with the development and articulation of philosophical positions and answers proffered to challenges. Emotional influences clarified may contribute. Although not confined by any of these contributory elements, or an aggregate of them, a philosophy, with its own interior rationale, includes those aspects systematically into a unity for contemplation, immersion, suggestion, development, and guidance relevant to deeper connections and understanding of human experience in nature, with other humans, our perception (with implicit perspective), intellectual endeavors and human behavior as exhibited -with values for an intrinsic Ethics. Basic truths are sought.
Operating by exploring presuppositions and implications of our experience and its generated understandings (we urge best also pursued by dialectical speculation) a philosophy ideally then develops connected propositions systematized. Principles for analysis and systematic construction are employed and must be justified, in part with reference to what we experience (immediately, reflectively, intellectually, aesthetically, consciously – and unconsciously perhaps). Philosophical inquiry, systems and propositions presented, may attempt to begin with nothing held as conceptually essential or free from critical examination, to proceed by an expanding justified methodology with inclusion of justified concepts and propositions. to arrive at coherent organized principles for everything experienced or possibly related, underlying, or generating experience in order to explore and then explain experience and reality in all its richness – using engagement with penetration into reality, others, and the self. Thus it confronts the intersection of what we believe we know and what we recognize (and identify) in the world outside. that would justify our principles, recognition of patterns, with both predictability and limited uncertainty, in that world we experience, interact, learn, explore, and try to explain in many ways. Randomness and ambiguity are integral in this continuing changing contingent world implying their accommodation in proceeding. As presented, the ambiguity and richness demands analysis, concentration, and comparison to other systems, our own beliefs inchoate or articulated, human experience personal and communicated, and abstraction for principles, beginning, and development.
Unique in human endeavors, philosophy interacts both with all other intellectual endeavors (defined and confined by their subject matter), our changing experience of the world and others, what is thereby disclosed, and inferences, abstractions, and ascriptions structured to help order, understand, and penetrate both nature in many forms and human achievements (not necessarily purely “positive”, including its own possibilities, all requiring means of communication.. A philosophy proffered seeks assent. Persuasion by invoking grounds of agreement, or presuppositions in common. is also accomplished by “proof” employing agreed presuppositions and procedures. Demonstration (based on common controlled observation) also accomplishes some of this same end.
Communication displays human commonality, with individual self insistence, so that a dialectic with others can ensues as a dialectic with what is accepted (with degrees of doubt) as perception, principles, and concepts develops a philosophical system., As an inquiry requiring speculation enabled by the pursuit of implication and association, its ideas are tested with contrast with others. But, the argument that past proffered philosophical systems and movements have serious, sometimes claimed fatal flaws, does not demonstrate that philosophy must accept any conditions for prepeceptionn since well done philosophical systems can indicate where progress would lie, and defects remedied. The richness of human experience and the ideal of understanding observable phenomena and the nature of underlying reality generates new ideas to explore and formulate. In its formulation, a system should assemble its claims of truth and acceptance in mutual dialectical support. The great achievements in mathematics and science does not justify science as the main or only source of “truth” as human experience contains more than perceptions, abstractions, and connections because their presuppositions, methodology, and principles must be justified philosophically and present something coherent Technology is a practical use not a proof of truth. Historically, one could claim that Plato and Aristotle developed enduring terms and questions with suggestive conclusions, still with some continuing validity. The “one and many problem”, the proposition that a unity is often different in nature than all its elements aggregated, appears in all areas of thought. Both Greeks showed respect and even relied on “pre-Socratics” and “sophists” whose insights offer suggestive perspectives, positions, and philosophical possibilities., Plato with his dialogues featured some as characters, particularly the brilliant Parmenides: Aristotle reviewed them in the Metaphysics. But much was left unexamined from presuppositions to human nature, observation, perception, and formulation and does not fully explicate future progress in the arts, sciences, and psychology. Other great philosophers have attempted, with varying success, after examining these issues, to propose persuasive systems without necessarily foreclosing further philosophical exploration in our contingent world and connected philosophical propositions. We must also consider a common key to human endeavors which should further offer the exploration of philosophical possibilities explored.
One paradigm of philosophy starts with the principle of critical examination of presuppositions of any description or analysis of experience, reality reflected, and the interaction and communication about these between individuals, collectively or in dialogue and in the thinking self itself. This approach uncovers more presuppositions and suggests the importance of the contribution of experience, reality, reflection, perception, observation, understanding, and communication involving them.
This paradigm leads to the doctrine of philosophy as dialectical, speculative, and systematic. A dialectical critical examination of presuppositions in all endeavors leads both not only to new formulations but also to experiential and humanly generated contributions. That further suggests that philosophical propositions also be tested again what is considered “knowledge” in other fields of inquiry such as science and creative enterprises to require compatible speculation in order to complete what is left unanswered in this dialectical process, itself to enter into the dialectic.
Not all philosophers fully accept this paradigm. Kant went straight to the presuppositional area to justify, in epistemology, his categories (which require the schematism to relate to reality while relying on Aristotle). In the second Critique, he relied on an exposition of a “self legislating” kingdom of ends” to induce a generalized principle of universal application – the Categorical Imperative, in both cases designed to avoid the need for dialectic suggested. Hegel, almost telling a story in the Phenomenology, proceeded by a speculative “labor of the negative” to create a dialectical triadic driven system to explain and encompass knowledge, nature, civilization, mankind, and relationships. He built that system from “thisness” to encompassing known arrangements and phenomena. Descartes went to the heart of presuppositions (of the self), telling a metaphysical meditation in a story like mode, but could not extricate himself to deal with philosophical content except by invoking God. In his Ethics, he suggested a more elegant procedure, using a principle of least doubt and clarity to establish a system. The pragmatists, phenomenologists, and existentialists focus on the dialectic itself and how we are thereby involved in the world(s) beyond us. Read sympathetically, however, the noteworthy thinkers all move beyond a simple description of what we confront experientially (including our accumulated “knowledge”) to an abstract level where what is presupposed is dealt with implicitly or explicitly in a system built to encompass human endeavors as well as human experience, observations, and perceptions. Even Leibniz with his abstract account of “monads” makes reference to its connection with knowing and understanding selves.
Historically, stories have been used by many great philosophers. Plato not only had his dialogues but metaphors (although the “later” dialogues are often didactic and the Parmenides (split in half from a storied account to a series of propositions probably expressible in a symbolic logic.) Too often, Plato’s “early” dialogues, developing ideas and relationship veiled the “Socratic” developing of a thesis to a chorus of assent. Aristotle who described in many fields of human activity and interest not only used metaphors but also his abstractly inferred four causes may be read as working together to tell the story. He also created new ways of creating presuppositions with induction and abduction (an army regrouping after being routed) as well as Logic. (Note, he wrote the Rhetoric to deal with persuasion involving the structure of argument, its bases, and the nature of communication.) Descartes not only describes his meditations as told over days but presents it as a discovery, descending with doubt and expansion with God, reason, and mathematics. Kant tells the story of how the mind works in the First Critique (particularly in the crucial schematism and transcendental mediation) and in the second he narrates how obligation follow necessarily from human nature and abilities. Leibniz has his own world of monads as characters acting out a plot. Nietsche presents “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” with stories. Pragmatists view enterprises as adventures expressible as narratives without final resolutions. Many other examples can be proffered. Logicians, of course, would have none of this although their propositions and resulting structures use elements, rules like a plot, and meet certain aesthetic criteria for presentation. On the other hand, since ontology per se seems an unlikely place for stories to pop up, philosophy deals with the presuppositions involved in creating and communicating stories, and use of stories does not require that they are necessary constituents of any philosophical system or even presentation but suggests an analogy with the principles exhibited in stories and the similarity, even identity, with the principles inherent in both.
It may not appear that philosophy, as a field itself, can be reduced to a story or to requiring story elements. It does not appear either that it is simply a description or elementary explanation of what we confront or must assume to explain what we experience and suddenly or continually confront. Paul Weiss has pointed out that there are no predetermined rules on how to do philosophy in an obdurate complex (and evolving?) reality. Inquiries into presuppositions and unanswered questions and inspirations from other human endeavors open up vistas of possible explanations of various depths which remain, no matter how arts, mathematics and sciences develop. These human endeavors, we have tried to demonstrate, all have story components (and contain stories) which help us understand them.
Ideally, philosophies present a complex of concepts which explain the nature of reality in experience, and in itself, with all its constituents, the conceptual scope and principles of all human endeavors at all levels accessible to perception, creativity, conceptualization and the human interinvolvement with each other, the immediate world, an evolving environment and the universe itself. The ambitions revealed suggest that thinking in philosophy is an adventure in thought, self-education, and speculation, therefore ,never completed by one philosopher or by the state of philosophy at any time. Perhaps the philosophical enterprise presents a human dialogue with the universe which imposes on us and which we form a part, but tells us nothing definitive about its possible range of inquiry, speculation, and description.
We judge a philosophical presentation, in part, by how much it explains in and by its systematic formulation (while recognizing that some philosophical thinkers deny the possibility of such an achievement to offer alternative philosophies about understanding, perceiving, and communicating). Not only does philosophy proceed from presuppositions and implications to logical (rule instancing) dialectal and speculative formulation but also it is intended to advance our knowledge of experience. Such knowledge must include humanity and nature both. (Kant separated them but dealt with both and aesthetics – which may be urged as an operative principle in intellectual and personal pursuits). We therefore look to a philosophical formulation to explain particular observations, perceptions, entities, occurrences, and forces in illuminating new ways. A first rate teacher of philosophy applies the abstract propositions (of a philosopher) to concrete situations to illuminate both. Achieved explanations create insights reflecting a systematic presentation which may affect the assumptions and practices of those in the arts and sciences.
A particular philosophy, narrative or not, deals with “necessary” and actual presuppositions. One special next move is to check creatively (analogous to developing a story) the implications of those presuppositions against those “truths” in experience, personal, and communicated to humans, then generalised and generating, while still compatible with current received knowledge with its related perceptions and concepts accepted (to fulfill the paradigm we proffered.) In the course of this process, questions may arise about either the validity of the presuppositions, the extrapolations (reflecting and representing patterns describable as “rules” from them)), or the solidity of the received knowledge. Its abstract system with ascription and description should connect coherently with our understandings of experience and explanations offered of it in sciences and invocations and presentations in the art. Mathematics offers a particular challenge while applicable to understanding in many fields. (Music, visual arts, and sciences) It also has to speak to our daily lives, unconscious, emotions, moods, perceptions, and reflections (including dreams perhaps – which may be both vivid and not retained as experience but sometimes as a memory as if they were based on actual experience.)
Based on presuppositions, a philosopher starts with particular knowledge accepted and available for communication. The other side of the coin of critical examination of what is accepted as persuasive (or universal) is the implications to be drawn. Descartes, who wished to start with the undeniable and minimum, has to ask for God’s assistance to draw out the implications in a coherent fashion. Most important, philosophers do not start with the minimum but rather what is accepted as knowledge operating in human understanding and acting referencing science, common sense, described human interactions (when specialized, relying on expert practitioners.) What is then implied and constructed from the implications becomes an essential element in a philosophy.
Some go further to take philosophical reasoning as a paradigm or an example to be emulated. Logicians think that they can extract relevant rules to create language which defines ideas and even observations (ignoring the implication of Godel’s and Heisenberg’s proof as well as their own experiences of morality, randomness, and enjoyment of our common world. Relying on mathematics, they are generally ignored by mathematicians. Philosophical reasoning, however, is valuable in many fields from law to history to love.
This exploration has led to particular examinations of space and time for most philosophers (then to propose or suggest how their nature is implicitly expressed and explored in human endeavors). I urge that any philosophical study of time, such as that attempted by I.C. Lieb must account for different times, and, in particular, the novel’s elastic freedom with it. (My own position is that time contexts events as it creates possibilities for them; that space contexts objects as it create possibilities for those). Philosophy should, at the minimum, illuminate what we “know” and experience. Properly presented, it should persuade us of “deeper” and abstract truths than those immediately obvious from perception and various formulations of its instances. A clear form of persuasion is “proof” which is what makes logic and mathematics so attractive for some philosophers. (The experimental – observational extension into astronomy and astrophysics with assumptions about what effects imply about nature of causes and courses – with use and verification of current physic’s formulations may be most satisfying particularly leading to further work for both the experimental and theoretical physicist separately and cooperatively).
Kant, in some distinction from this account, attacks philosophical problem directly as particular issues to be resolved. Rather than dealing with the contents of our knowledge and ethics he deals with the conditions, unfortunately accepting Aristotelian categories in the first Critique to propose rules of perception rather than the roots of reality. He then argues brilliantly for the self legislating kingdom of ends in the second to create a deontological ethics seemingly without reference to human nature or purpose. By this focus on the conditions of knowledge and ethical principles. he attempts to persuade by an implicit included universality in both fields. (In his also brilliant and challenging third Critique, he employs the same methodology – the only concrete reference is to wall paper. Aristotle too eschews conventional stories and accounts (in what we have extant) to reject the previous philosophers with their stories (poetry and myths) to offer philosophical descriptions detailed although he appeared to believe it important to exposit the history of philosophy (without Plato, his mentor) up to then.. Both Aristotle and Kant, therefore, seem to choose to face and resolve the abstract problems they suggest are disclosed by past formulations and what is required as conditions for description, experience, and action to then produce expositions. Aristotle, completely contrary to Kant, offers his philosophy as descriptive of reality. Hegel, in his turn, provides an abstract methodology where component propositions have concrete actual or possible referents.
It is interesting to note that Physics, in its search for more and more precision and more and more basic elements has become more and more abstract, mathematical, and complicated – even often counter to what we daily experience. When applied in astrophysics it produces a story about the origin, changes, and even future of this universe, its time and space, mathematically described. Currently, not bothered by what preceded it, the “universe” is supposed to “begin” with a “big bang” sending gravitational waves as that universe expands. Quite a story. Quite some characters: black holes, quarks (with colors, types and sub-atomic components), dwarf stars, comets, time, space, heat, magnetism, and gravitation. etc. Quite some subplots, in quantum mechanics, with quantum objects affecting each other at large distance with no substantiative connection, jumps, waves, suupperpositions and even string theory and multiple universes.
We must know something to survive, let alone thrive. We do make errors. We do learn. We create. Nature and chance are well beyond our control. Yet we have many ways of understanding and internalizing aspects we know well enough and matters we know somewhat. Our experience is also of depth, richness, ambiguity, and ambivalence towards that which we experience (but we may enjoy, reject, incorporate emotionally/conceptually, changing and/or fulfilling ourselves some times.) We operate with habits and predilections, reveal an unconscious, participate in a society with institutions, function in an environment, deal with each other in a moral and emotional world, and are able to be individually, constructive (and destructive), creative, think, act, and love. Philosophy examines presuppositions as employed with their implications in our struggles for more knowledge, probing into what is accepted as true in order to try to understand better what we do know somewhat, develop uniquely human creativity (with sensitivity), Ethics (in action as morality), while expanding knowledge and personal fulfillment. Philosophy probes how all our knowledge relates and relates both to our experience and the world beyond. There are many ways and means for the enterprise of doing philosophy. Philosophy requires creativity since it is not comprised of direct observation with set rules following linear extrapolation but rather establishes the conditions (including forces, space and time) for perception, examines nature, and deals with the related matters of ethics, morality, and creativity itself. The purpose and meaning of life are not tangible even if its pleasures, pains and some rewards may be. The world we experience is susceptible to understanding and necessary for creativity.
Philosophy examines the presuppositions of all human enterprises as it accounts for function and form. A proper methodology, analogous the what is used in other endeavors developed from presuppositions, demands critical attention both to other human achievements including other philosophies and also its generation from its own starting points and propositions., At the same time, philosophy needs to accept what can not be denied in experience while recognizing the tools of doubt and challenges of ambiguity and randomness (recognizable in contrast to normal consistent patterns.). We affirm immediacy in our experience, with a range of its recognition, ranging from enjoyment or even to horror. We do assert out identities, we must handle (and accommodate) physical objects and forces, move in space and time; we must reckon with our emotions, we must accept the assertion of others’ identities who possesses these same characteristics and potentialities. Our curiosity implicitly drives not only observation, reflection, and formulation (all possibly influenced, to some degree by culture and civilization(s), but also our efforts in all human enterprises. Paul Weiss said all men have philosophies in Reality. Perhaps it might be better to say that all men think and act based on presuppositions which are philosophical, are coherent and consistent in varying degrees, communicate and act based on a coherent, if not necessarily consistent, world view and set of values. A philosopher should be more systematic and open to criticism and dialectic.
Philosophy gains substance from what is revealed by human enterprises. A number of great philosophers have also been mathematicians: Descartes, Leibniz, Whitehead, Pascal. What was gained in the mastery of the discipline allowed construction and speculation in philosophy. The Greek playwrights and Dostoyevsky raised ethical questions that a philosophy must be able to answer. Coleridge used his poetic insights in philosophy. Any philosopher is helped by mastering the principles of one of the great human enterprises.
Human enterprises utilize information from each other. Emotion clearly molds arts. ethics, and even enters into science. We further suggest that there are even aesthetic principles at work not only in the art but in science and mathematics. We affirm that abstractions and derivative concepts and emotions can take on a life of their own forming entities, institutions, cultures, laws, and language.
These characteristics establish that there is such a dialectic between human enterprises, the external world (both replete with stories and story considerations) and philosophical systems. The world as we experience it is both ambiguous and multiply layered, if irrefutably there (and often frustrating); the world as we live it is often a source of ambivalence for us. As human enterprises progress coherently they produce knowledge possible valuable for the philosopher. can work. Any history of science reveals how what is “known” may turn out to be either “presupposed” – dependent or derivative upon such – or subsumed in a later broader theory so that we approach the “real nature” rather than reach it completely in description and evocation – in spite of any claims that we are just at the point where we will soon find the final “scientific” explanation, Intellectual pursuit and pleasure take place over time and in personal immediacy.
A dialectic commences when the presuppositions are contrasted and found not totally harmonious or totally justified by observation, abstraction, extrapolation, other accepted knowledge or even experience. What is “known” in another field may be helpful in an enterprise and supply a new presuppositional basis. These bases also open up philosophical vistas. Curiosity thrives from reflection on experience, from mastering a discipline including those which predict what will be observable in some mode (chemistry, physics) what can be correlated (neurology, biology) to exploration of apparent consequences and analogies, systems comprehensive and partial. Probings arise necessarily in the course of an attempted comprehensive philosophical description of beliefs, humanity, and nature (including the universe(s)), purported persuasive presentation, real reflection, and actual human experience. Mathematics freed from empirical constraints follows a logical coherence of its own requiring creativity, supplying systems, and correlating with science sometimes and then “useful” in addition to the creation of new abstract fields and thoughts.
“What is the stars?” asks the Captain in Juno and the Paycock. What indeed are time and space? Are there such things as truth, beauty, justice, proof, love, evil, good, obligation? Is there a case to be made for “God(s)” ? Is there a domain comprised of humanity and reality? What is perception? Observation? What is there in perception beyond immediate use of the senses? What are the domains of science and art? What is the meaning of life? All ask but may never be completely satisfied…but may be inspired to think philosophically seeking answers or a ray of enlightenment.
There are those that think our sense of justice is immediate. We humans “know” that we should stop someone from hitting a baby over the head with a hammer. Common law arose (with its handmaiden “equity”) from an accumulation of dispute resolutions theoretically based on common practical and psychological knowledge reflecting basic and societal values and practices and justice (fairness at least) in decisions. Other systems seem to codify common political, policy, and societal values. The analogy to “truth” would suggest that “justice” as an ideal can be glimpsed from these systems. On the other hand, the first section of Plato’s Republic features a lively debate on the nature of justice, albeit with storied examples. One could, it can be argued, arrive at a concept of justice from an analysis of human nature and/or the function of society. (Communism, capitalism, and other utopian visions seem to do this.)
We therefore can distinguish “truth” and “justice” as concepts related to human activities from “space” and “time” as not so related but subject to human thought. (“Good” “Evil” “Beauty” can also be so treated with denying that they are absolutes.) Both categories pose philosophical questions, if differently, than the human endeavors we have explored with the claim the story provides a necessary key.
There seems to be a pull upon the reflective acting person of the ideals of beauty, truth, love, justice, and self-fulfillment. We feel a lack in their absence. Most philosophers take this pull to infer to ideals as having an ontological status with concrete consequences for how else could we explain life without these ideals having an effect? This offers a particular philosophical challenge to complement questions life and we ask ourselves.
Second rate thinkers claim answers then specialize in their defense. Great philosophers always raise questions which they creatively try to satisfy. Descartes demonstrated, by rigorous doubting, that philosophy could start with “nothing”. Great philosophers have generally presented their systems as answering everything challenging, offering objections to others’ positions while indicating basic questions.. In Adjuncts and Other Gatherings, Paul Weiss argues that philosophical systems will always be somewhat incomplete although he offered his own complete system in Being and Other Realities.
Is it possible develop from Cartesian nothing to philosophical perspectives that are persuasive and useful? We must first recognise that the world itself and understanding developed often produces ambiguity. Zeno’s paradoxes prove the calculus that physics uses is not precise. (I suspect that astrophysicists will continue to come up with new stories about the history and future of our universe). This is further supported by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and suggested by Godel’s proof of mathematical incompleteness.
The second step is to realise that we do know things if not always completely. We are frustrated and exhilarated, etc. by objects and events in the world beyond us. They become part of our experience, emotions and memory, pleasurable or miserable. We learn about and from them. Enterprises develop to explain or utilise them; institutions both reflect and create them. We share them with others.
We would be foolish to deny emotions and even the fact that they are affected by unconscious and our body – which seems separate as well as joined by the self. No one walks into a chair deliberately when they are trying to get somewhere while it is in the way (except in self destruction so prominent is so much fiction). There are proofs that work in mathematics. Predictions, based on theories and suggested by hypotheses, often produce accurate predictions. Practically all of us have empathy and sympathy for others and love for our children, families and many others. Moments, art, and sights are remembered in their beauty. Our enjoyment arises from some of what we experience and do.
Mathematics is a rock where the ship of pragmatism founders. It appears impossible to avoid its certainty and universality in elementary arithmetic and geometry. 2+2=4 (no matter how much the Underground Man rages). Pi is a constant and a transcendtal number whose arithmetical equivalent is infinite. Richard Bernstein pointed out to me that Plato could accommodate alternate geometries on the third level of the divided line with the absolute geometry on the fourth level. Mathematics, as we have indicated, creates useful propositions for physics and practical application (e.g. electricity). Paul Weiss has presented, in my opinion, a compelling account of mathematics in Creative Ventures. Accepting it, with these other propositions, may leaves the question of whether “higher” mathematics is different from the mathematics that seems so evidently to work in the world we experience directly or indirectly through experimentation, observation, or extrapolation.
Everyone makes errors. We can recognize therefore that something is “false”: and something thereby is inferentially “true”. But if we included every instance of truth, is there something in common we can abstract? Is there some procedure we can employ in all our reflections, experiences, and actions? Assuming arguendo we could get a clear picture of such an abstraction, would it necessarily demonstrate that there is a “truth” underlying all truths? Would truth have a pull that love has for individuals or justice should have for a society (or a dispute resolution)?
There appears to a continuum of “truth”. We can persuade people of an error to any satisfactory degree by rhetorical/dialectical devices as Aristotle and Plato employed. We can persuade people by plausibility and analogy as many scientists (and Freudians) try to do. We can work within narrow frameworks where “proofs” are possible and persuade by them. (Mathematics presents the purest form of this method. Descartes embraced it as fundamental truth). We can argue for a position by a preponderance of the evidence accepted by parties to the discussion (or equally acceptable analogies.) We can run experiments which, properly controlled, demonstrate that under certain conditions certain results should happen arguing that a general proposition has been verified. We accept as provisory or the best account currently available in a range of propositions from astrophysics to history to social science. The philosophical question remains whether “truths” partake of an ideal “truth” or we arrive at a concept of “truth” by abstraction and extrapolation or some other means.
Some transcendent absolutes, with which philosophy must deal directly, are not perceived immediately the way an entity or a physical force is (although we experience “aging”) nor do they seem abstractable or extrapolatable from what is as we do with the daily entities and forces that impinge on us. When we jump or fly, even fall, does that give us enough sense of space? When we gaze at stars we think of them at distances like objects we can reach only to discover in our scientific understanding that the nature of this distance is complicated, indeed, it is currently accepted to part of a space time continuum in which our perceptions of space and its occupants are governed by time (light years) raising philosophical difficulties that Paul Weiss has indicated in considering time. Can there be objects without space or space without objects? Regardless of relativity, can we experience time without events, or events without time? With quantum theory we seem to be able to have an entity at two places at the same time; make movements without traversing space, face deep mysteries in sub atomic theories such as Quantum Mechanics, etc.
As human beings. we not only claim our humanity be respected by others. we seek to grow and fulfill ourselves as our own story, giving meaning to our engagement with ourselves, others (individually, societally, and mankind) in a multi-leveled reality. The absolutes such as truth and beauty function in human enterprises, in part, as means of judgement and understanding of what has been created in and by those human endeavors. Some societal institutions take on a life of their own. The law furnishes one example, morality another. (The plurality of personal Gods claimed seems rootless (in spite of the frequent historical claims as a basis, privileged highly above all other contemporaneous and later stories) and, in total, contradictory, but clearly theologies exist as doctrinal systems as well as societal institutions.).
We do live in a world we try to understand. We do try to understand our perceptions and clarify our ideas.. Observation goes beyond perception, which is experienced as immediate, by using it in a manner controlled by individuals (in some disciplines in cooperation with others). Science operates with its presuppositions more or less explicit and generally a language (usually including mathematics). The arts presuppose both perception and observation to explore, each in different ways, the possible patterns of perception, then observation and reflection, with emotional impact on the audience, dependent on the justifiable expectation of common nature of mankind and conventions, traditions, and patterns of values, some of which may be somewhat different in different societies, requiring creative use of materials. Perceptions continue often beyond our control. Reflection can make identify specific observations in them which may affect future perceptions Habits and institutions, human in origin, function as quasi-physical factors and forces. We fulfill ourselves, enjoy ourselves in many ways with many pursuits so that philosophy, affirming that, philosophy is always actively engaged for all of us.
In our daily lives, we often are disappointed by others’ rigidity of positions, politically and socially particularly, their inability to take good advice, or learn by experience. Such impressions imply the lack of dialectical interest or ability. Dialectical progress, on the other hand, is essential to philosophical inquiry, development, and communication. Whatever starting points are accepted, with degrees of clarity and assertion, evolving connected concepts have to take into account and reflect implications, compatibility with experience, learning from other fields, coherence and plausibility of methodology, and ingredient past philosophical conclusions in a ladder up to a perspective and principles presentable to an audience willing to engage in this adventure of ideas. The principles are also testable by predictions and description of what occurs in other domains of human experience and creativity. The development of a system is dialectical; the audience engaging in a dialectic with that developed and developing philosophical system.
The history of philosophy demonstrates that there is no one method of discovery, persuasion, or presentation. The eternal questions continue to challenge. They are also present in the stories that comprise our experiences as individuals who interact, create, and navigate. Literature can raise philosophical questions (e.g Dostoyevsky and evil). but not answer them. The meaning of life, the nature of space and time, the foundations of morality, mathematics, art, thoughts and feelings raise questions that insist upon us even as we deal with daily life and others. The answers we arrive at, and/or accept, affect our conduct, perspective, and nature. A full philosophy therefore, tries to resolve and answer these questions while recognising intrinsic ambiguity in reality and understanding with associated real randomness. This ambiguity rests in part on the multi-layered nature of reality as we experience and understand it. Reciprocally, a dialectically created system must deal with the many depths presented in experience and the entities which contribute to it. Humans are complex, arousing and containing ambivalency (not necessarily constantly.) with an apparently unique ability to abstract and develop intellectual propositions (and artistic and fictional creations.)
We are all subject to moods and emotions. Moods do not appear to have specific content although they can have dramatic effect ranging from paralyzing depression to self-destructive mania, irritability to joyousness, etc. Although they do not alter the individual’s core nature, they lead to its expression in a particular way, coloring how the person feels about his perceptions, observations, projections, reflections, careers, possibility in thought and action including analyses. They often determine how he acts or reacts. Detached from anything but a traumatic event or the body as a stimulus, mood does not seem to have the ontological status that requires philosophical analysis besides the acceptance noted and accommodated.
Emotions, on the other hand, whose origin seem multiple have specific cognitive content. An emotion itself can not be so characterised. We may feel love, lust, joy, boredom, greed, anger, and irritation, but they are also, almost always, connected to something (greed is somewhat attenuated from objects, even as objects as symbols of wealth are valued, while boredom generally involves a situation. There are various formulations of the “Seven Deadly Sins”; anger – including revenge – revulsion, power lust, etc. are encountered daily, historically, and in fiction). Yet, an emotion can be the object of reason, susceptible to proper persuasion (sometimes just “rhetorical” which does not preclude cognitive content or presentation of insight.). The practice of psychiatry, for example, deals with emotions by employing stimuli to memory and unconscious so that reasonable (and even) reasoned thought can be applied to the emotion(s) presented memories and feelings with consequences, establishing coherent connections and patterns.
One can control or restrain the expression of the emotion and actions based upon it We can recognise some emotions as bad or bad in a particular context with particular consequences Many stories are told about emotions gone amuck. In many ways, we can argue that ethics, societal structure, and law are ideally established and justified to control expression of emotions in actions because of perceived bad (or socially “improper”) consequences (including for our selves). We can reason about our emotions in these areas and interpersonally by dealing with the cognitive content critically. (Love expressed lyrically in poetry and song may describe characteristics and reasons both – “let me count the ways.”). Dreams, which include emotions directly and metaphorically, present philosophical nuances as they both reflect and contrast with reality as we encounter and engage with it in many complex ways.
Our experiences therefore involve our selve’s evolving personal world, an insistent resistant dynamic reality beyond including other selves, with an interplay between all. Our lives may unfold like stories but our own pursuits require involvement with cultures, institutions and disciplines with their own interior rationale as well as accommodation of physical reality and biological necessity.
Evil, a deep ethical and philosophical problem, crucial in many fictional stories, stalks the living. Dostoyevsky, again a great moral (and theological?) philosopher who never wrote philosophy per se raises the issue directly. In The Grand Inquisitor the only answer he posits, while subtly suggesting its erroneous nature, is that mankind needs “miracle, mystery, and authority” or they will fall into a worse condition than if they follow Christ’s teachings of pure beneficence and good. To follow the news of the day is to see evil (and, of course, tragedy, incompetence, and stupidity) seriously at work. Everyone who has worked with or for the powerless has seen countless instances where bureaucrats or the police have inflicted gratuitous evil which does them personally no good at all (unless one posits pleasure in other’s pain or a feeling of elevation in the excercise of power. The direct experience, in my life, is that those explanations do not seem sufficient, so that I, at least, am left with a personal mystery). Most of us, particularly when not yet fully mature, have fulfilled the impulse, to do something “bad” just because it was “bad” – perhaps abstractly justified as rebelling against societal norms and restrictions, in general. Evil is certainly more than the absence or even opposite of good. There are innumerable instances evidencing its apparent attraction at least remotely analogous to that of “justice” or “good”. Evil both as manifested and an apparent force affects an enormous variety of human behavior (matched occasionally by diseases and“natural” disasters with global warming combining both human actions and nature’s dramatic and gradual changes) whereas other such abstractable apparent absolutes imply other lesser “virtues” such as inferring the value of trust and communication from honesty, kindness and generosity from the Good. All these concepts must be explored as a part of a systematic whole reached by sustained self-critical analysis, dialectic and argument in a complete philosophical system while often exhibited and examined in fiction with focus on character, predilections, thoughts, emotions, and associated actions .
But this only scratches the surface. The vast majority of mankind lives in deplorable situations, starving, lacking shelter, health care, proper clothing, protection from harm, sustenance, means of transportation, cultural enjoyment, energy in leisure to create or associate or appreciate or enjoy, speculate, or reflect. People do cruel things to them. Politicians take away the small benefits they need. (The penal/incarceration system feeds on them to inflict cruel punishment, often unusual but not so recognized politically or judicially – but making some money and/or political rhetoric -e.g. “closure”, “law and order”. “criminal elements”.) Evil, in terms of suffering and deprivation, seems more universal and constant in most people’s lives than what most mature reflective intellectuals celebrate. The cluster of real life stories manifesting and even exemplifying evil requires philosophical resolution beyond contrasting choices between human affirmation and diminution.
Prejudice is found everywhere. Some particular difference be it color, culture, religion, belief system, gender, sexual orientation, race (under some definition) etc. is considered to taint individuals even to the point of considering them non-human (or at best lesser sub-humans) with no right to equality or to claim on others for reciprocal respect and treatment. The past century was distinguished by the Holocaust, among other genocides of Armenians, Gypsies, etc. and I live in a country where its natives were mainly exterminated for the settlers, who ironically themselves usually had faced prejudice, want, and deprivation motivating them to come here. In my life time, internment of the Japanese in concentration camps, the “red scare” and Jim Crow – the model for South African apartheid – were prominent.
In particular: Wars are crimes. Millions die and are maimed. All the sides claim deities are with them and assign evil to the other side. Works of precious value are destroyed. Hatred is created that lasts through generations, decades, centuries, millennia to generate more wars, deaths, maiming, oppression, and degradation of the “other”.
Evil, in all its manifestations, is inescapable. Stories tell of it over and over again. Our lives confront it. It is as certain as our own death. It poses a problem for philosophy which appears no philosophy proffered yet has resolved. An ethics can help good people come to the right and moral position and by repetition and reflection become better individuals but it does not eradicate evil. The law can restrain and isolate some evil doers but it does not and can not eliminate them or the creation of new ones. What does this tell us of mankind? What philosophy can answer the questions that Dostoyevsky asks in The Brothers Karamazov to his brother before he recites his prose poem? (Or the complaints of the “Underground Man.”?) No philosophy which does not include an account of evil could be complete. A fully complete philosophy, I suggest, would account for its presence and nature to offer remedies inspiring hope. At some point, it has to enter into the dialectic involved in the philosophical construction for ethics (not be avoided s the Stoics and Buddhists would have – denying our human connection to other humans who suffer.)
In De Anima Aristotle faced the difficult epistemological question of how we know all our different senses relate to the same object, positing a common sense. (The mind’s participation in perception is illustrated by being able to see something by learning what it is; anticipating the next note in a melody, feeling something hot which is cold when we see something hot, recognizing colors, and fading odors, etc,). Our experience is that there are many aspects and levels to our objects of observed, as perceived, even before being raised to systemized formal consideration..
These aspects are not purely perceptually epistemological when we abstract from what we isolate from our field of perception. The Greeks discovered pi. Electricians use “I” (“j”). Physicists, chemists, and breeders have been able to make accurate predictions demonstrating that the systems generated as hypotheses or theories from the abstractions (sometimes inductions or ascriptions) have not only cognitive content but tell us something about the complexity and depths of the objects, forces, and dimensions we confront as we advance in knowledge about them in the space and time they inhabit with us. Meanwhile our experience also contains decisions of moral impact and aesthetic dimension. We also resonate to natural and created beauty.
Life itself poses questions. Suppose, arguendo that combining some chemicals (amino acids) created some thing that would grow and decay, create other objects like itself by some process, and these would even develop into more complex nature and groups. The question would still be there as to how and why it happened, and developed so much, on this world. Living matter and associated actions are part of the nature which we confront and utilize, but are frustrated to understand fully, also dependent on context.
There are many levels to what is confronted as objects and the world in which they are contained just as reached by human senses (some of which a much more highly developed in animals reaching dimensions and aspects we can not access directly no more than we can directly observe number), by the senses together, by abstraction, by systems derived with abstraction and dialectic, information obtained by inquiry, observation, experimentation (including manipulation of accepted data) and inference from what we think we know at any time – all in complex patterned interaction. Philosophy therefore, must deal with the presuppositions, processes, and consequences of the abstractions, systems, combinations of concepts achieved, methodological means of inquiry with presentations resulting and inferences drawn in all areas of experience, principles and patterns produced, thereby inexorably lead face the challenges in our lives to inquire into what are space and time, perception, morality, beauty -other immortal questions posed not yet answered to general philosophical satisfaction. Yet the best tentative conclusions define in large part who we are, what we do, what we understand, enjoy, appreciate, reject or avoid. Abstract entities considered reveal forces (including randomness) and facets which, in turn, imply human creativity and dialectic in our received, explored and confronted content and context as part of our nature, development, and understanding.
We reflect ambiguity by ambivalency as not only a possible direct response to partial or complete clashes in contemplation but also as a result of dissonance between memories, morals, habits, values, emotions, unconscious, moods, and conscious considerations. Ambivalency need not rest on ambiguity but may stem from personal lack of complete integration of factors; but confronted with ambiguity, ambivalency seems a natural human outcome matching lack of clarity in observation and reflection with conflicting senses of personal meaning, value, and judgement. Philosophies must include this challenging variable in human experience in at least epistemology and Ethics..
Just as it is impossible for us to avoid the plurality of levels in the experienced world, it is impossible to avoid the human world in which we live too. We must make moral choices. We experience emotions. We seek pleasure, beauty, and self-fulfillment. Our loved ones are important to us and even provides constituents of our nature. (Here fiction thrives.) This human domain also includes, history, psychiatry, creative arts, archeology, paleontology, institutions, and languages. (In the academic world, primarily, “social science” are pursued). These, as we have noted, develop a life and insistence on their own with levels of meanings that can lead to different and sometimes incompatible interpretations.
If, for example, we take three abstract concepts that are involved in our experience and judgements, they range in human involvement. Justice, even if it transcends the law and culture, is based on norms related to them and deals strictly with human beings. (We can say, of course, that one rooster deserved to beat another but that is anthropomorphic. If we say that world is “unjust” we refer to its effect on human beings. Beauty exists whether there is anyone there to appreciate it. The cliche is wrong. It is not in the eye of the beholder. (Weyl tried brilliantly if unsuccessfully to use mathematics to describe it in his book on Symmetry, the Greeks had a “Golden Mean”, etc.) It is possible to appreciate the beauty of something without enjoying it (Some of Bach is that way for me.) Clearly it depends on the senses and configurations both. Beauty involves both the real world and people. Things are true regardless of what people say or do. Pragmatists may argue we never arrive at the “truth” but in allowing us to distinguish between what is more or less true they acknowledge an implicit standard which they think we can never know. The obdurate real world exists regards of what humans do, for it acts, insists upon itself, requires us to accept it, and imposes hard “facts’ or “truths” upon us. (It is interesting that, in physics, the “verifications” of its claims require more and more complicated extensive and expensive experiments indicating how complex and difficult is progress to their “universe(s) and components” – if ever discoverable – with (abstract) developments concerning magnetism, gravity, heat, interactions in space and time, and the extent of “dark matter” now held to differ greatly between galaxies, cf. “black holes; sub atomic waves and particles produced (maybe generated) by atom smashers as well as by theory). Epistemology must form part of philosophy, but clearly does not exhaust it (even with the history of epistemologists struggling to get our of their minds.) nor is the field basically advanced by current scientific claims accepted.
These absolutes, justice, truth, good, beauty (and where do we put evil?) are rightfully the realm of philosophy as much as space and time. There are those that think our sense of justice is immediate. We humans “know” that we should rescue someone in distress. Common law arose (with its handmaiden “equity”) from an accumulation of dispute resolutions theoretically based on common practical and psychological knowledge reflecting basic and societal values and practices and justice (fairness at least) in decisions. Other systems seem to codify common political, policy, and societal values. The analogy to “truth” would suggest that “justice” as an ideal can be glimpsed from these systems. The first section of Plato’s Republic features a lively debate on the nature of justice. One could, it can be argued, arrive at a concept of justice from an analysis of human nature and/or the function of society. Communism, capitalism, and other utopian visions seem to do this.
We therefore can distinguish “truth” and “justice” as concepts related to human activities from “space” and “time” as not so related but subject to human thought. (“Good” “Evil” “Beauty” can also be so treated without denying that they are absolutes.) Both categories pose philosophical questions, if differently, than the human endeavors we have explored with the claim the story provides a necessary key. There are those that think our sense of justice is immediate. We humans “know” (again) that we should rescue someone in distress. Common law arose (with its handmaiden “equity”) from an accumulation of dispute resolutions theoretically based on common practical and psychological knowledge reflecting basic and societal values and practices and justice (fairness at least) in decisions. Other systems seem to codify common political, policy, and societal values. The analogy to “truth” would suggest that “justice” as an ideal can be glimpsed from these systems. One could, it can be argued, arrive at a concept of justice from an analysis of human nature and/or the function of society. (Communism, capitalism, and other utopian visions seem to do this.)
We therefore can distinguish “truth” and “justice” as concepts related to human activities from “space” and “time” as not so related but subject to human thought. (“Good” “Evil” “Beauty” can also be so treated without denying that they are absolutes.) Both categories pose related if different philosophical questions. There are those that think our sense of justice is immediate. The analogy to “truth” would suggest that “justice” as an ideal can be glimpsed from complete philosophical systems.
There are two ways, at least, to consider the philosophical domain. The first is a continuum. We can start with matters that are purely human such as ethics, society, and law, pursue suggestive implications from them and then add perceptual input to create grounds for theories (cf. Naturalists to biologists) to be developed in particular in conjunction with philosophically revealed presumptions, methodologies, and comprehensive perspectives with a philosophical system then produced in conjunction with other human endeavors.. Then, second, there is creativity developed dialectically from all experience and reflection into activities and production that then be argued to be reflective of the “real” world beyond – the Paul Weiss thesis in his books on Art and Creativity. Some may further argue for ontological consequences for creativity (and “beauty”) adding to the universe and its patterns. We suggest that human ideals develop out of the nature of humanity, its affirmation and communication, human potentiality and natural possibility. There are the human enterprises that claim (if we accept their presuppositions) that they describe what the real world “is”. These are the sciences, particularly physics, chemistry, and biology. Mathematics generally plays a crucial role here. None answers all questions, let alone deal with individual experiences. Finally there is time and space which astrophysics claims to describe but its progress resembles the myth of Sisyphus – while we have indicated why there will always be essential uncertainty since randomness and contingency are undeniable. Some deny that there is a continuum and so divide philosophy into two separable domains: humanity and nature, But, there are human enterprises of many sorts, morality, and ethics and then there is the inquiry into “real” world of objects and forces in space and time – both requiring epistemology mated with ontology.
Epistemology is inextricable with ontology not just in exploring the conditions for and nature of the “physical” world. For without perceiving and knowing we could not discuss (or deal with conditions of perception or reason) while, without specific nature involved, we would have contentless groundless concepts. We are necessarily led to consider being, essence, reality as implied and ingredient in the content, structure, and patterns of our experienced and understood perceptions and disciplines. Then to be directly confronted is “being” itself! Paul Weiss in Being and Other Realities starts from everyday experience to move dialectically to Being as generating its conditions and then back to everyday experience. This ontological journey. In his Adjuncts and Other Gatherings he suggests that there are ontological possibilities now open for exploration as metaphysical dialectical speculation produces them with many paths to follow and no final solutions available.
It also can not be denied that each philosopher has a distinctive style of presentation and reasoning. Moreover, philosophy itself has a level of abstraction yet relatedness that distinguishes its discourse from others in a recognizable style. Even those who claim to “overthrow metaphysics”, such as Freddy Adair, do so in a “philosophical” way. Nietsche speaks both in a literary and philosophical manner most notably in Thus Spake Zarathustra.
Further, philosophy in attending to space and time, truth, beauty, and being as well as ontological concerns, must keep this inseparable combination of ontology/epistemology functioning. What it must accomplish is both the revelation and justification of presuppositions, implications leading to the exposition of the nature of things, including those which have no direct human input. These all must be part of a coherent system.
Can Story, encompassing all told tales, extended to human enterprises by analogy and principle manifestation, help us unite these projects – presuppositions and implications studied and universe explained? Can it suggest bridges and tests? Can it help offer a unified view? If it offers a key in human enterprises, can it offer a key to a philosophy which must encompass that which has no human aspect at all?
Were there no space, there would be no objects for there would be no place for them to be. Were there no objects, we would not know, and there might not even be. space, for there would be no evidence of its existence. A fundamental story principle is that although we can analyse and separate plot, character, and style they are different and less than the unified story itself. The same key applies here. Space is essential for the existence of objects and objects essential for the existence of space. (Characters and plots create and operate in a space for their interactive particular distinctive presentation.) Neither space or objects can exist without the existence of the other, so displayed clearly in stories. This proposition does not exhaust the explorative possibilities but offers a beginning.
Similarly, time and events. If nothing occurred there could be neither an observer (who, by nature. would have to persist yet change) nor time. If, on the other hand, there were not the pressure and presence of time, events would not proceed sequentially and irreversibly, expressing cause and effect. Time and events are inextricably interwoven. Plots in a story show us time at work, manifested and created. Just as stories illustrate that certain unities are different in nature than the sum of their parts, time like space is constituted by the inextricability of its distinctive features. Events, forces and objects could not exist were there not time and space.
Space requires time for its objects to act and interconnect with each other and space itself. Time requires space for its changes to occur.
Calculus itself can not overcome Zeno’s paradoxes. Accepting the Dedekind cut (and Dedkind numbers) so that there are an infinite number of points in a line, it assumes that getting as close to a point as we want is the same as getting there – the doctrine of neighborhood. (It tries to avoid the paradox of the theory by ignoring the world in actual motion – leaving time out of the equation. These paradoxes indicate how space and time are inextricably intertwined – the fourth indicates how spatial arrangements can prove that half the time is twice the time.) Current mathematics has Godel for “incompleteness ” in number systems (which may be used to express time). Physics has Heisenberg for “uncertainty” in space with moving objects. Current physics has indefinitess built in its waves. which suggests essential randomness and contingency – quantum mechanics operates counter-intuitively(not like our daily world) with states, leaps, and multiple locations.
This interdependence space time of requires randomness and contingency since there appears no clear determinative unifying force in control. (Pace relativity theory – Heisenberg answers for us too) Descartes was able to identify time with space with his graphs and co-ordinates for the purpose of mathematics (and therefore to allow for calculus). But this space and time are an abstract space and time and not the one that is experienced and that we live in. It allows for understanding and prediction but it does not exhaust the nature of time and space we experience and where we speculate, create, and experiment not in themselves inextricably intertwined.
Note: Zeno’s paradoxes are not true “logical” paradoxes but rather stories juxtaposing where a theory contradicts what we experience. Zeno’s first three stories pose profound problems for those who would deal with space and time as separate.. (His fourth paradox is not a story but a mathematical conundrum).
Story and stories, therefore, seem to offer clues to the study of space and time. As such they offer a bridge to human endeavors where story is at least a key to understanding. Although it too may be a component which only has meaning in a whole, it is an essential component in human endeavors. Although it is a human creation, because it is a human creation, if offers a bridge and an opening into the scientific domains of philosophical inquiry – space, time, reality, ontological elements, and being. Its coherent patterns in stories guide us to philosophical principles, offering implicit standards Its plot developments resemble scientific extension. Its tone lies in the aesthetics implicit in exposition. The characters are what are considered constituents developing. Mathematics, creatively pursued, creates fields for developing certain connections and consequences for its elements. We experience artistic creations personally with effects resembling immersion in literature with the human elements (no matter how abstractly) presented invoking stories. (Social sciences offer narratives about human behavior in group form – causing conceptual problems.) The history of philosophy is an unfolding story. Cause and effect, not necessary predictable or probable, offer excitement in stories and are essential in all narrative accounts. This condensed presentation suggest that Story be considered in philosophy as manifesting similar principles and offering helpful analogies..
But what of being, essence, reality (might one want to add the question of soul and self somewhere – where story would help? (Or can we say that is what all stories are about?)? Let us suggest that we seek to be persuasive and use a dialectical methodology in ontology which tests concepts against givens to proceed. Harking back somewhat to Platonic dialogues, particularly those classified as later, there is a suggestion of Story coherence here.
Let us note in passing that we have expanded our ways of telling stories Movies, a recent form, also gives us documentaries which use all the skills in that craft to tell histories History now includes new perspectives dealing with common (and inarticulate and/or illiterate) people and other data including oral accounts Astrophysics has grown increasingly sophisticated in dealing with the origins of its description of the possible beginning of the mathematically understood universe. Palenotology, archeology, geology, biology, etc. use important new technical tools to add cognitive content. The novel, the paradigm of Story, is a recent phenomena, if with historical antecedents. (I do not include computer technology, including “artificial intelligence” because of innate limitations and its essence reducing to speed in calculation and presentation.)
Everything experienced including what is arrived at by imagination (even some errors)is subject to philosophical curiosity and deserves a philosophical explanation. All our lives offer stories, some of which we tell ourselves and others truthfully, distorted, and sometimes dishonestly. Ideally we develop wisdom and self-fulfillment, and, if able, contribute creatively. What philosophy has opened up as to function, nature, and presuppositions in a universe, to be experienced in many ways, can be studied as the story of ideas – sometimes old ideas with meanings and applications while new profundities display knowledge in progress. Not knowing the whole truth, we can experience our own story in the world in which it is found and our experience(s). Not controlling the universe or other people, we can understand something of both by using story as a philosophical key. We educate ourselves, we make ourselves, and we are ready for more stories, true and false, human and natural, as we wonder about what it all is and what it all means. This wonder leads us with one more challenge: Who am I?
A key to the answer is that we are all potential philosophers living, thinking, and telling stories. We seek the best answers and lives – in varying degrees. We hope to transcend our thoughts by sustaining ourselves with human communication (with love as the apogee), creativity, and increased understanding from the stories, life, and human endeavors contribute as best we can understand them. We seek to enrichen our selves in the world we experience. This inquiry should suggest some answers to questions considered while raising some questions, which pursued for answers, enrichen our experience to enjoyment. With or without philosophy using the key of Story principles, is starts with nothing to develop into a comprehensive system. This achievements invited critical participation and communication continually. We live not only our inculcated perspectives, emotions, and thoughts but also, developing as best we try, we live a philosophical life.
Paul Weiss May 19, 1901 – July 5, 2002) was an American philosopher. He was the founder of The Review of Metaphysics and the Metaphysical Society of America.
Paul Weiss, 101, Philosopher And Challenger of Age Bias
By Ari L. Goldman 2002