PHILOSOPHY THREAD (for rex and anyone else who cares to join)

29 Jan 2020 20:43 #349028 by Gisteron
Were I to try and present it, I'd probably misrepresent the pragmatic position. I have strong sympathies towards my own conception of it, but I'm no philosopher and am not well-read on pragmatism at all.

That being said, I understand it as an attitude towards discussions that is borne out of concerns for practicality. If a pragmatist were to speak of "truth" in the first place, they would stick to it as a practical label put on things for the sake of getting things done, rather than as a result of particularly strong intellectual justification. It's not necessarily circular so much as it is profoundly intuitive, because it appeals to our desire to get to the bottom line, to the proverbial "end of the day". Whilst you'll watch many epistemic/aesthetical philosophers debate what it means to experience red and green colour, or what colours even are, and whether we can trust our senses to even tell when we are seeing anything, the pragmatist may listen for a brief while, but soon cut to the chase, because all of them need to cross the street at the end of the day, all of them see a traffic light, at the end of the day, and - most crucially - all of them have to make a choice sometime before the end of time, whether they'll live to judge it afterwards or not.

Pragmatism in this sense is not so much an answer to the hard problems of epistemology and especially ontology, as it is a dismissal of the entire discussion because there are more productive, and - in a pragmatist's view - more interesting discussions to be had instead. To them not only the discourse itself matters, but also getting somewhere with it eventually, even if that means asserting less-than-perfectly satisfying answers to some questions until actual, practical need arises to rethink them.

When I said that it iseasy to defend by appeals to itself, I mean that, philosophy aside, all of us are humans, and all of us have things to get to, so we might as well focus on the immediate things we can actually achieve results in and take temporary half-answers to the more broad fundamental things to which definitive answers are nowhere in sight, at best continuing the discussion only in small chunks at a time, postponing most of it for another. There is no denying that the practically necessary or important is... well, practially necessary or important. It's circular, yes, but I mean... how would one even begin to argue against a position that pulls the more immediately important things into the foreground, without attempts at dragging it into the broad, speculative, and impactless discussions it refuses to entertain?

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29 Jan 2020 20:51 - 29 Jan 2020 21:05 #349029 by CaesarEJW
Alright. I see.
As for my vocab, I quite literally started Philosophy 101 a few weeks ago, so I've only dipped my toe in. We basically learned logic, valid argument structures (deductive/inductive/abductive), then we started with Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Locke, Berkely, Hume, and Kant. I have gotten as far as super basic epistemology, so yes, I would imagine my terminology is lacking.

Rex wrote: Let me rephrase my question: why do you have your beliefs and how can you verify them/what are you assuming?

Now for your question.
This is rather difficult. First off, regardless of any validity or verification, it seems to be in Human nature to have beliefs or generalizations concerning the world. People develop beliefs, well, for survival reasons at the base of it. Yes, they do get a little esoteric and completely useless, like religious beliefs. At the core of this phenomenon, I would say we from our beliefs because a mental generalization of a perceived nature or rule of the world helps us survive.

A really basic example, a group of cavemen are foraging, one eats a certain kind of berry, and that individual dies.
The rest of the group then forms the belief that that specific variety of berries is deadly.

However, what if it was just that individual who happened to be allergic to those berries?
What if the rest of the group could eat them and be just fine?
They would have no way of knowing that, because of their new belief that the berries are poisonous.

So they take that to be a universal truth.
But if it was just the individual who was allergic to these berries, then that is a faulty truth.
But it is still a belief that holds true, but only because they perceive it to be true.
Obviously, if another ate the berries and was fine, then their perception would change, and thus the belief would also.

So, beliefs are simply subjective and relative truths based out of observations.
Now verifying them as universally true is a much trickier thing to do.
I would personally separate beliefs from the truth, as truth is what it is regardless of the belief, but beliefs are fluid.

So, that leaves the much more difficult question.
What is truth, and how can we tell if it is true?
Last edit: 29 Jan 2020 21:05 by CaesarEJW.

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