Friday, January 27, 2017

"How Do I Learn Philosophy?"

Some weekend reading; since I personally don't have anything especially insightful to add to Fran's recent Enemies and How to Treat Them Part 2 ("We can beat these clowns. Indeed, we can beat them so thoroughly that they won't even dare to whimper. But to do so, we must be ready, willing, and able to fight.") I want to share an article of interest from Curt Doolittle, an interesting character and writer. He calls his philosophy "Propertarianism" and I don't intend to explore that right now, but it's worth a look.
(My comments)

A reader asked Doolittle "How Do I Learn Philosophy?" Some highlights from his answer:

First, we need to define Philosophy. Which I think I can successfully do by stating it’s a set of ideas that assist us in forming a framework of understanding, whether by imitation of others – whether real or mythical (virtue), rules of conduct and decision making(deontological), or understanding of the mechanics of the universe(teleological), with which we can use limited human knowledge and reason for the purposes of acting to achieve needs, satisfactions, and fulfillments, by cooperating successfully in a world of others doing the same.

I can already sense some of our Gentle Readers raising their hand and saying "But wait, what about X" but I'm not going to parse this definition right now either. Mainly, I want to share some truly interesting insights and opinions that I had not considered before:

-One’s Experience-
i – children and primitive cultures rely on virtue (religion)
ii – adults in developing cultures rely on rules (law)
iii – the wise in mature cultures rely on outcomes (science)

(And then, when the limits of science are exhausted, the wise return to virtue, only at the next higher level.)

Christianity provides a body of myth and ritual with but one purpose: the extension of kinship love to non kin, as a means of generating universal inclusiveness. It is a religion of benevolent pacification cured only by it’s opposite in the martial nobility.
(Obviously there is more than "one purpose" but this is true, as far as it goes. "Martial nobility" married to Christianity is the very essence of "The West.")

Islam provides rules and virtues for people with limited intelligence to observe and daily rituals to enforce them – although this is a false promise since it achieves the opposite.

Stoicism provides a means of achieving personal happiness for those who live in civilized worlds but who have little control over their environments. Stoicism is the opposite of buddhism in that buddhism achieves satisfaction by escapism and internal discipline, while stoicism achieves satisfaction by means of creating many small successes in daily life, accumulating in your achievement of virtue independent of the opinions of others. Combined with Sport it is extremely attractive to men.
(Perhaps the best definition I've seen.)

Judaism provides a means for not only exiting their incompetent classes but an entire body of law to master, and overwhelming pressure to remain within the polity which is ensured by the hostility to outsiders and therefore outsider hostility to insiders. Judaism is perhaps the ultimate synthesis of rule based systems and history even if it is a failed system because it lacks the moral content necessary to hold land. It originated with pastoralists and remains a pastorialist (unlanded) doctrine. It lacks intertemporal moral content. That is why the jews cannot hold land.
(That's a way of looking at it that I've never heard before, at least not with such simplicity and clarity. It has remarkable explanatory power and aligns with reality.)

Aristotelianism (what we call science) is demanding and at times forces us to confront uncomfortable truths, but at least when large numbers of us adopt it, we are able to master reality better than all other philosophies combined. The problem is that it is an aristocratic philosophy because it requires great effort and ability to learn and apply. Which is why we invest so heavily in education: we must.


Some reading lists follow--you've probably read some of the works, but perhaps you'll find something new and, ahem, enlightening.

I considered Doolittle's post to be well worth my time. It might be worth yours as well.


Ron Olson said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Big, clear thoughts.

Drew said...

That definitions. For Islam works pretty well for liberalism too