• spirit-salamander
    147
    Often the matter of truth does not seem to be quite clearly distinguishable from the matter of taste.

    You often see it in acquaintances when they talk about their philosophers and philosophies. It all fits together. You know their preferences and character and the choice of their philosophy is not a big surprise.

    If you are honest with yourself, you will see it in yourself. You can ask yourself, what does this philosopher have that the other philosopher doesn't have? Answer: He appeals to you more.

    That is why the German philosopher Fichte rightly says:

    “What sort of philosophy one chooses depends, therefore, on what sort of man one is; for a philosophical system is not a dead piece of furniture that we can accept or reject as we wish, it is rather a thing animated by the soul of the person who holds it.” (Johann Gottlieb Fichte)

    There are simply people who are more inclined to pessimism, others to philosophical optimism. Some are more oriented towards the concrete, others more towards the very abstract. Then there are those who prefer to proceed analytically and others prefer to proceed continentally synthetically. There are many who prefer a poetic philosophy, many others like it very dry and prefer gray theory. Some love only the deconstruction of everything, the epistemic nihilism, others would rather dwell in their thoughts in a well-constructed theoretical edifice built on solid foundations.

    Sometimes one chooses one's philosopher merely because they write in a clearly understandable way, others find it superficial and embrace the obscure. And so on and so forth.

    Schopenhauer has also already seen that there is often a polarity of thinking distributed among people:

    "A certain affinity, or at least a parallelism of opposites, becomes evident when one contrasts Plato with Aristotle, Augustine with Pelagius, and the realists with the nominalists. One could claim that, in a way, a polar divergence in the human way of thinking manifests itself in this – which, strangely enough, expressed itself for the first time and most emphatically in two eminently great men who lived simultaneously and side by side." (Arthur Schopenhauer Parerga and Paralipomena Short Philosophical Essays Volume 1 Translated and Edited by Sabine Roehr Christopher Janaway §10. Scholasticism Fragments for the history of philosophy)

    A certain relativism cannot be denied here. It seems to be objectively given. Individuals are the standards of their chosen philosophy. Everyone truly needs to realize this.
  • Banno
    12.7k
    So much the worse for philosophy as a set doctrine.
  • Gregory
    3.3k
    Everything (logic, religion, metaphysics, ect) is just a way of life. We are like people running on fire and everyone changes their minds many times in their lives
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    If you are honest with yourself, you will see it in yourself. You can ask yourself, what does this philosopher have that the other philosopher doesn't have? Answer: He appeals to you more.spirit-salamander

    I have often wondered about this and have written here that temperament and aesthetics probably inform people's choices. I'm fairly certain people with strong beliefs often choose the philosophy or school that most supports the ideas they have already determined to be true or reflective of reality. How far does this go?

    But to Banno's point - this ain't a brilliant thing for the philosophical enterprise if accurate.

    If true, it raises follow up questions - can this be overcome or dealt with in some way? How is it identified?

    Can we make an effort to read and understand thinkers we are not drawn to? What should matter is the quality of the content, not whether it appeals, but I guess it could be argued that even our ability to sit with some ideas and not with others may rest with personal taste.

    From my own perspective I am personally struck by this from Nietzsche's The Gay Science

    We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody now could endure life. But that does not prove them. Life is no argument. The conditions of life might include error.”
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    I understand philosophy as a performative and noncognitive exercise. Neither "truth" nor "relativism" obtain with respect to it as creating criteria or methods for discernment is a/the basic function of philosophy. In the end, I agree, choice of a philosophy is dispositional and not propositional because, as Pierre Hadot reminds us, it is/ought to be a way of life (which cultivates flourishing (eudaimonia) according to one's 'needs'). That there is more than one path up the mountain is pluralism and not "relativism".

    Can we make an effort to read and understand thinkers we are not drawn to?Tom Storm
    Only if they call into question those vital philosophical positions which one is drawn to. How could one so troubled not?
  • magritte
    255
    Often the matter of truth does not seem to be quite clearly distinguishable from the matter of taste. ... ...
    A certain relativism cannot be denied here. It seems to be objectively given. Individuals are the standards of their chosen philosophy. Everyone truly needs to realize this.
    spirit-salamander

    There is no denying that deep psychological preferences do weigh on one's attitudes toward people and life, but if philosophy is to be a logical enterprise then philosophy can just as easily act to correct tendencies to be governed by our guts. This was Plato's hope for the philosopher perhaps because he was more rational and rationally oriented than those others you mention.

    Rationally there is no reason to stick to any one philosophy. Just look at the sciences. Is there just one science? When people do stick with one science can they deny all other sciences? Why not? When people do stick with once science can they deny all other sciences? Isn't that answer also applicable to philosophy?
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    Can we make an effort to read and understand thinkers we are not drawn to?
    — Tom Storm
    Only if they call into question those vital philosophical positions which one is drawn to. How could one so troubled not?
    180 Proof

    Fair point. You would hope intellectual honesty was the winner.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.5k
    There are simply people who are more inclined to pessimism, others to philosophical optimism. Some are more oriented towards the concrete, others more towards the very abstract. Then there are those who prefer to proceed analytically and others prefer to proceed continentally synthetically. There are many who prefer a poetic philosophy, many others like it very dry and prefer gray theory. Some love only the deconstruction of everything, the epistemic nihilism, others would rather dwell in their thoughts in a well-constructed theoretical edifice built on solid foundations.spirit-salamander

    The true philosophy is one that somehow reconciles all of those different “tastes” together into a single cohesive whole. Optimistic and pessimistic in the ways that each of those is practical. Bridging the abstract to the concrete, the analytic to the synthetic. Both mathematical and artful, well-structured but also well-presented. Breaking old things down and building new things up out of those parts. Etc.

    Taste may decide which direction we fail at philosophy, but succeeding at it requires overcoming such biases.
  • Banno
    12.7k
    The true philosophy…Pfhorrest

    There is One True Philosophy?

    Why should we think that?
  • Pfhorrest
    4.5k
    Because there is at most one complete truth about anything. The whole point of that last post of mine is that many competing philosophies are all partial truths, so whatever the complete truth is, it would thus incorporate all of them. The alternative is that there is no truth in philosophy at all, in which case everything we’re doing is meaningless nonsense.
  • Judaka
    1.3k

    Well said. The only thing I would add is about how "truth" actually functions in our thinking. "Truth" is not unaffected by for example whether someone is an eternal optimist or dark pessimist. There is no such thing as looking at the world objectively, I can make fact-based arguments for contradictory descriptions and characterisations. How we interpret things, what we emphasise, what we see as important, they're going to be important premises in our positions but it's not objectively wrong if one chooses to emphasise the good things or the bad things, what we know or what we don't know, and so on.

    The trouble is with those who view their fact-based arguments as backed up by truth rather than just including true things. It's not the same as talking about an actual fact.

    My view is that philosophy should be considered conditional, how one evaluates their choices is part of the process. Personally, I see philosophy as though we were cooking and it was just one ingredient, we're trying to make a great dish. I allow people to make their own arguments for what type of ingredient they want and what a "great dish" is. I don't feel threatened by others not having the same answers as me.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    Everything (logic, religion, metaphysics, ect) is just a way of life. We are like people running on fire and everyone changes their minds many times in their livesGregory

    This also has an absurdist touch to it. Some people would be happy about it, others afraid.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    If true, it raises follow up questions - can this be overcome or dealt with in some way? How is it identified?Tom Storm

    Perhaps one can say that many philosophies are not so far away from each other, if one looks more closely. I have found, for example, that Neoplatonic thought is present in many seemingly incompatible philosophies. More ancient Hindu philosophy, even medieval Scholasticism, German Idealism including Schopenhauer up to New Age thinkers and Woo Woo esotericists like Deepak Chopra are somehow hanging on the same big philosophical branch and should, if they make an effort, understand each other.

    Can we make an effort to read and understand thinkers we are not drawn to?Tom Storm

    Out of respect and humanity alone, one should give the other person at least a brief hearing. That is my opinion.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    There is One True Philosophy?

    Why should we think that?
    Banno

    As - not that there is one true philosophical system, or one true philosopher, but that the ‘vision of unity’ is at the heart of true philosophy. The Greek word ‘Cosmos’ means ‘unified whole’ notwithstanding that in current science the unified vision has been totally fragmented. Although I suspect that is probably a little too cosmic for plain-language philosophy.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    That there is more than one path up the mountain is pluralism and not "relativism".180 Proof

    Or perspectivism. I think, the term relativism does also work, if it is understood as a view, according to which every insight is only relatively (conditioned by the viewpoint of the interpreter) valid, but might never be universally true.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    The true philosophy is one that somehow reconciles all of those different “tastes” together into a single cohesive whole. Optimistic and pessimistic in the ways that each of those is practical. Bridging the abstract to the concrete, the analytic to the synthetic. Both mathematical and artful, well-structured but also well-presented. Breaking old things down and building new things up out of those parts. Etc.Pfhorrest

    That's a nice picture. But do you think it's ever feasible? For one cannot agree even on the deepest philosophical foundations. Whoever says that non-being is always and in every form and without form preferable to being, does not come to a common denominator with someone who says that being is better in and for itself and in every manifestation than non-being.

    According to my theory, however, your vision could be achievable if people become more and more alike and similar. That is not excluded, provided that one believes in biological and also cultural evolution. The corners and edges in the different personalities, which corners and edges just seem to dispose philosophically haphazardly, are carried off so slowly until everything is smooth and equal. All would then devote themselves in the future merely to the one philosophy.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    The trouble is with those who view their fact-based arguments as backed up by truth rather than just including true things. It's not the same as talking about an actual fact.Judaka

    Yes, it is especially problematic when some want to passive-aggressively impose their philosophy on others.
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    Because there is at most one complete truth about anything.Pfhorrest
    This totality stuff again? The "one complete" map of the territory is the territory itself, which is useless as a map and therefore why we make and use abstractions – simplifications – of the territory in the first place. The one is many but the many is not one – how could it be (e.g. Eudoxus' exhaustion method, the continuum hypothesis, incompleteness theorems (re: Gödel & Chaitin), lack of absolute reference frame (locality, SR), computational irreducibility)? Sorry, Pfhorrest, I don't see how philosophy can, in the end, do anything other than reflectively problematize the ineluctability of ignorance (which the above theoretical discourses corroborate) rather than discovering / uncovering / justifying "the one truth".

    I use these terms / distinctions a little more precisely:

    (A) relativism denotes that all truths or paths are equally justified (re: sophistry of self-subsuming categorical nonsense)
    (B) perspectivism denotes that experience is bias/body-dependent and varies in interpretabillity as a bias/body changes (re: subjectivity)
    (C) pluralism denotes that there are two or more incommensurable, complementary aspects to each object, problem or domain constituting a non-flat 'landscape of discrete values' (re: objectivity)
    C checks and yet extends B while also deflating / defeating A. YMMV.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    The idea of one's philosophy being a matter of taste suggests that it is completely subjective, as being a matter of attraction, like taste in music, or what people one is attracted to. It would really involve attitudes, but probably an intuitive leanings towards certain ideas and ideals. In some ways, I am sure that we choose to adopt certain views on the basis of attitudes and what we like or dislike. This is connected with values.

    But, if philosophy is only entered into in this way, surely it would be rather shallow, and avoid any real attempt to understand life and the questions of existence. I think that it is important to be aware of personal attitudes and how they play a role. In a way, each person is trying to construct a philosophy to find a way of living meaningfully, so is entitled to choose what to believe. However, if those ideas are to be a serious endeavor to understand, and exchange ideas I believe that it is not worth engaging in if it is just like supporting one's favourite football team or rock band.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    “What sort of philosophy one chooses depends, therefore, on what sort of man one is; for a philosophical system is not a dead piece of furniture that we can accept or reject as we wish, it is rather a thing animated by the soul of the person who holds it.”spirit-salamander

    :clap:

    This kinda paradoxical situation arises precisely when we lack definitive answers to questions in a given area/subject/discipline. Why is it a paradox? It's one because philosophy goes all out of its way to project an image of absolute objectivity and attempts to maintain a safe distance from subjectivity, a concept cognate with taste/personal preference but, try as philosophers might, their attempts to remain objective has not borne the expected fruits. Thus, not surprisingly, they've given their subjective side just the right amount of freedom to, well, do what it wants, no strings attached, no questions asked.

    That said, philosophy, it appears, is a very broad discipline and though it might've begun with the spirit of fairness in judgement, it has, over the centuries, acquired a new persona that not only tolerates but also encourages the study of subjective human experiences. This, as far as I'm aware, has spawned a new generation of thinkers investigating the subjective aspects of our mind and how they impact/bear on our relationship to the world. In the simplest sense, philosophy treats tastes/personal preferences as perfectly legit domains of inquiry and also warmly embraces anything that might be all subjectivity and no objectivity.
  • Possibility
    2.2k
    Taste may decide which direction we fail at philosophy, but succeeding at it requires overcoming such biases.Pfhorrest

    I’m not sure we really overcome such biases entirely, though - at least, it’s difficult to articulate this level of objectivity. I think we can be aware of them and adjust for them, but it’s always interpreted as relative. You and I might consider our understanding to be unbiased, but I think that our reductive methodology - that is, how we render our thoughts as words or actions - will be largely a matter of taste.

    I don’t think this is necessarily failing at philosophy. I think people can only evaluate someone else’s philosophy based on their own interpretation of the words or actions, which are a limited aspect of the entire process.

    Personally, I think what philosophy might be moving towards is a logical and qualitative structure that enables the most accurate awareness of, and adjustment for, the energy biases in our interactions.

    These biases are a large part of English language use, requiring the kind of linguistic acrobatics that took us through Russell and Wittgenstein, among others. I think they demonstrated that writing a complete philosophy which would either eliminate or overcome such biases is an exercise in futility. Some aspect will always be missing, which I think is whatever we hold back or reject of ourselves as irrelevant to the philosophy as described.

    Any philosophy that hopes to ‘succeed’ in written form will need to not only account for what is missing - a lesson in humility, no doubt - but also make ‘space’ for diverse interpretations from bias.
  • baker
    1.6k
    There is One True Philosophy?

    Why should we think that?
    Banno

    Why do you disagree with people (and publicly ridicule them etc.), if not because you believe there is One True Philosophy (which also happens to be yours)?
  • Fooloso4
    1.9k
    I use these terms / distinctions a little more precisely:

    (A) relativism denotes that all truths or paths are equally justified
    180 Proof

    That is not a more precise use of the term, it is a stipulated use. Not all relativism accepts the claim that all truths are equally justified, but rather, take the position that all justification is relative. There is no fixed standard by which we judge an invariant world. These are the conditions in which we judge.

    Joseph Margolis has written extensively on this.

    http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft2779n7t4;query=;brand=ucpress

    http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft209nb0kk&brand=ucpress

    http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft6t1nb4gf;query=;brand=ucpress
  • Pfhorrest
    4.5k
    For one cannot agree even on the deepest philosophical foundations. Whoever says that non-being is always and in every form and without form preferable to being, does not come to a common denominator with someone who says that being is better in and for itself and in every manifestation than non-being.spirit-salamander

    I think that we start in the middle of our webs of beliefs and find our way down to our respective foundations that we think underlie those middling beliefs, and that there is necessarily much in common in those middling beliefs if we share enough of our worlds in common to even be communicating with each other in the first place, so we can (if everyone is open to trying) find common foundations that work for the purposes that we’ve chosen all our different foundations for. In your above example, it’s possible that both of those sides are wrong — but they both think they’re right for good reasons, and the actual truth will be whatever accords with all of those good reasons at once, which is probably neither of their competing views but some creative new solution.

    I’m not sure we really overcome such biases entirely, thoughPossibility

    I agree that it’s not possible to ever conclusively finish overcoming them, but we can in principle make progress in that direction, overcome some of them, reconcile some apparent dichotomies, ruling out some extremes, and narrowing down the range of possibilities. It is still always a range though, so there always remains more narrowing-down to be done.
  • Olivier5
    2.1k
    A matter of need more often than taste. Our shifting philosophies serve a vital need to make sense of our lives, they are not decorative.
  • Bartricks
    3.3k
    You are just describing an epistemic vice in yourself and projecting it onto others, it seems to me.

    My philosophical views do not reflect my tastes. I had no desire to believe in God, and no vested interest in doing so, yet now I do due to philosophical reflection. Lots of my views are like this. Don't you change your views when you encounter arguments for views you do not yet hold yet cannot refute?

    Of course, many are not like this and decide approximately what's true in advance of philosophical investigation and then look to philosophy to provide them with rationalizations of their convictions. But those people are not really doing philosophy. For they are not trying to follow reason but trying to get reason to follow them.
  • Possibility
    2.2k
    That's a nice picture. But do you think it's ever feasible? For one cannot agree even on the deepest philosophical foundations. Whoever says that non-being is always and in every form and without form preferable to being, does not come to a common denominator with someone who says that being is better in and for itself and in every manifestation than non-being.spirit-salamander

    Looking for a common denominator is a reductionist methodology - you can’t move from disagreement to common denominator without first reaching for an agreement, a common space of meaning. In terms of being/non-being, that comes from acknowledging that, despite your preference, neither exists in and for itself, but that they exist only in relation to each other. So ‘better’ is a personal preference that has no bearing on objective reality, on what’s possible.

    According to my theory, however, your vision could be achievable if people become more and more alike and similar. That is not excluded, provided that one believes in biological and also cultural evolution. The corners and edges in the different personalities, which corners and edges just seem to dispose philosophically haphazardly, are carried off so slowly until everything is smooth and equal. All would then devote themselves in the future merely to the one philosophy.spirit-salamander

    I think you’re assuming that other personalities objectively have corners and edges (but not yours), that you can accurately define or judge them by these, and that your perception of that corner or edge is not just an indication of your own limited awareness. Ultimately, this sounds like essentialism. if everyone just ignored their differences, and focused ONLY on what we have in common, then we’d all get along...How ignorant and isolated would we need to be to perceive everything as ‘smooth and equal’?
  • Manuel
    984


    Yes, this is likely true. And in a way, it makes sense. A good deal of philosophy deals with questions for which we have no answers for. To account for this we must take up a certain attitude in relation to these matters and since there is likely no way to settle (at lost some) if not many of these issues empirically, we are left with intuition and personal dispositions.

    Thus those who dislike being faced with such problems can adopt a linguistic attitude and attempt to clarify or dissolve them.

    Those who think that since science has solved a good many issues and will to do so can adopt a scientistic or quasi-verificationist method.

    Those who think that one cannot make sense of the world absent human being will go to idealistic varieties.

    Then there are people who think the world is so strange that it makes no sense to give it a label might be persuaded to take a neutralistic or naturalistic view.

    And many, many variations of the above mentioned and some not named end up being whatever we take philosophy to be. But to profess "objectivity", completely devoid of our inclinations, proclivities and everything else is another kind of philosophical outlook. One which I think isn't really attainable.

    But all this is what makes the topic interesting to me. If all we had to do with every possible human problem was to look at the evidence, and nothing else, then there'd be nothing to say. And that would make everything boring. Or so it looks like to me.
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    Au contraire. He can speak for himself, of course, but @Banno doesn't need his own "one true philosophy" anymore than he needs a "one true god" to disagree with unwarranted assertions of any so-called "one true ..."; that's critical intelligence at work, and on a site dedicated to philosophy, it's hypocritical (or paranoid for some reason) of you to be "shocked, shocked there's philosophy is going on" here. As for "ridicule"? It's usually earned by the recipient, some are even edified by the sting, as thinking is, after all, strenuous when it's dialectical and done right. :smirk:

    Not all relativism accepts the claim that all truths are equally justified, but rather, take the position that all justification is relative.Fooloso4
    Other than grammatically, I don't see any significant difference between our respective definitions.
  • javra
    1.2k
    but that the ‘vision of unity’ is at the heart of true philosophy.Wayfarer

    I'm in agreement with this.

    Often the matter of truth does not seem to be quite clearly distinguishable from the matter of taste.spirit-salamander

    Aside from truths and tastes, there’s also explanatory power involved. Here personal tastes lend themselves to what is deemed most in need of explaining.

    As one general example that is readily apparent on this forum: The physicalist finds consciousness (by which I mean nothing more than the firsthand faculty of awareness) to be much ado about nothing, being primarily interested in maximally explaining that aspect of awareness’s environment which is equally applicable to all sentient beings, both affectively and effectively, and so which does not sway to the whims of any one being or cohort of such. This being what we term physical reality. To the non-physicalist, physicalism-grounded explanations fail to adequately account for givens that are deemed by such temperaments to be most pertinent: things like justice, beauty, meaning, reasoning, happiness - value in general - which are deemed contingent upon awareness and requisite for the evaluation of anything, including of that which we deem to be physical.

    Once a system is obtained that explains that which one’s temperament deems most valuable, confirmation biases ensue. And here various truths are filtered in favor of maintaining the system of explanation that most assists oneself in making sense of existence. Thereby, that system of explanations which best helps one to live. I’m by no means any exception to this bias.

    If there were to be a theory of everything in philosophy, it would need to explain everything to a t: both real and fictional, both metaphysical and physical, and so on. Thereby holding complete explanatory power for everything - for that which our own temperaments value as well as that which we find no great value in, though it be valuable to others.

    Till then, if ever realizable, we can intend to better approximate this ideal. Or not. But I would not consider the latter lovers of wisdom.
  • RogueAI
    620
    Axioms can't be proven and I think there's a lot of relativism in our choice of axioms we follow. For instance, it's possible that there's a literal hell that you go to if you displease some god (or simulation programmer), but I find the notion so implausible that I don't entertain it seriously. But maybe I should...
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