• Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Over a decade ago I started writing a philosophy book. A little over a year ago I started re-writing it from scratch. A few days ago I finally finished a first draft of it. Now I'm looking for beta readers to help me polish it up a bit.

    This isn't a commercial project, or a professional academic project, this is just me doing philosophy for the love of philosophy. I've never seen any well-known philosopher with quite my worldview (though there are lots who agree with various pieces of it), so I just thought it would be handy to write it all down for posterity or something.

    I'm looking for feedback both from people who are complete novices to philosophy, and from people very well-versed in philosophy. I'm not so much looking to debate the ideas themselves right now, especially the ones that have already been long-debated (though I'd be up for debating the truly new ones, if any, at a later time). But I am looking for constructive criticism in a number of ways:

    - Is it clear what my views are, and my reasons for holding them? (Even if you don't agree with those views or my reasons for holding them.) Especially if you're a complete novice to philosophy.

    - Are any of these views new to you? Even if I attribute them to someone else, I'd like to know if you'd never heard of them before.

    - Are any of the views that I did not attribute to someone else actually views someone else has held before? Maybe I know of them and just forgot to mention them, or maybe I genuinely thought it was a new idea of my own, either way I'd like to know.

    - If I did attribute a view to someone, or gave it a name, or otherwise made some factual claim about the history of philosophical thought, did I get any of that wrong?

    - If a view I espouse has been held by someone previously, can you think of any great quotes by them that really encapsulate the idea? I'd love to include such quotes, but I'm terrible at remembering verbatim text, so I don't have many quotes that come straight to my own mind.

    And of course, if you find simple spelling or grammar errors, or just think that something could be changed to read better (split a paragraph here, break this run-on sentence there, make this inline list of things bulleted instead, etc) please let me know about that too!


    I am thinking that I will do a new thread for each chapter, to help keep things manageable. I will wait for each thread to fall off the main page for a day before beginning the next thread, so as to pace things out, and keep from spamming the forum.

    This thread is just for the introductory page:
    The Codex Quaerentis

    I will edit in links to later threads in this space as they are created, and link back to here from them too:


    codex-cover.jpg
  • Virgo Avalytikh
    177
    The title looks a bit pretentious.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Any part of it in particular?
  • Virgo Avalytikh
    177
    Codex Quarendae - just looks a little pretentious to me. The subtitle is good though.

    Also, I don't believe this is grammatical, since codex is masculine but quaerendae is a feminine form. Maybe quaerendi? Is it a genitive that you're looking for?
  • Virgo Avalytikh
    177
    Or maybe quaerentis.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Thanks! That's actually one of the things in particular I was wondering about, because I don't actually know Latin very well at all and cobbled this title together from online dictionaries and translators.

    I think I am looking for the genitive, yes. "Book of/about Questions/Questioning" is the general notion I'm trying to capture.

    (I am pretty attached to calling it "the Codex [something]" though, so despite the pretentiousness I think that's not going to change. At least it's not "Codex Sapientiae" anymore; even I thought "Book of Wisdom" was too pretentious).
  • Virgo Avalytikh
    177
    Codex Quaerentis is what you want, then.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Thanks so much! I'll try to edit that soon.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    And it's edited now. Thanks again.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    I'm looking for feedback both from people who are complete novices to philosophy,Pfhorrest

    That's me.

    I am not sure I will be able to do all the readings, but here are some initial impressions...

    I thought your text was very accessible. There was very little that required multiple readings, which is what I prefer if I am being introduced to a subject. I don't know enough about philosophy to know if you are always right, but your history of the various philosophers/philosophies was clear and understandable.

    I think the perspectives of the philosophically educated are likely to be more important, but I am happy to let you know that, as a novice, it seems understandable so far :smile:.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    250
    From what I've read of you, I would not call your approach to philosophy "pragmatic." This isn't intended to be an insult, it's just not your approach.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Thank you, that’s very good to hear!

    In what sense do you mean? I mean it in the sense of the philosophy called “pragmatism”, focusing on philosophical questions through the lens of what practical endeavor an answer is meant to facilitate. Do you mean some other sense?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    250


    In what sense do you mean? I mean it in the sense of the philosophy called “pragmatism”, focusing on philosophical questions through the lens of what practical endeavor an answer is meant to facilitate. Do you mean some other sense?

    That was the sense that I was talking about - the philosophical sense.

    Obviously I don't know your whole philosophy, and yes it's your book so its your decision.

    Do you remember our discussion about the existence of non-moral oughts? You said that there wasn't because the non-moral oughts in the end just basically come down to moral oughts, if I remember. You were trying to find the truth behind the language, but I just don't think this is how a pragmatist would approach it. Pragmatists would probably be more partial to ordinary language philosophy where we just take the meanings as they are commonly used in the language.

    I've tended to view you as more on the abstract side of things, generally, but again it's you we're talking about so you're the authority.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Do you remember our discussion about the existence of non-moral oughts? You said that there wasn't because the non-moral oughts in the end just basically come down to moral oughts, if I remember. You were trying to find the truth behind the language, but I just don't think this is how a pragmatist would approach it. Pragmatists would probably be more partial to ordinary language philosophy where we just take the meanings as they are commonly used in the language.BitconnectCarlos

    This is probably better saved for the chapter on philosophy of language, but I don't see that view as being at odds with ordinary language philosophy at all, because I wasn't really talking there about what ordinary words mean, but more how the concepts they refer to relate to each other. And the way those concepts relate to each other, in that particular instance, seems very pragmatic to me, in that morality isn't something beside ordinary practical reason, but rather something completely continuous with it: "moral oughts" are just "non-moral oughts" that are sufficiently (to some arbitrary measure of sufficiency) detached from immediate personal decisions, and to draw a distinction between them would be like drawing a distinction between "real" as in rocks and trees and "real" as in quantum fields and superstrings: they're parts of the same picture, just "foreground" and "background" so to speak, little things up close vs distant big things lying behind all those little things.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    250


    Let me try another example:

    If I were to ask you to defend libertarian socialism would you respond with something along the lines of "Well, here's case study 1, here's case study 2, and here's case study 3 where the practical application of libertarian socialism led to x,y, and z as opposed to these implementations of capitalism here...."

    Now, I haven't studied pragmatism academically, but from what I understand about it is that it's a ground-up approach where you're starting more with whether the approach has actually worked in the past and there's no meaningful sharp distinction between "in theory" and implementation.

    I've just always read you as more of a theoretician; it would seem to me that a pragmatist's first impulse would be to respond with actual empirical data or historical fact to an issue rather than theory.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    That doesn't sound much like pragmatism as I understand it; it doesn't really sound like philosophy per se at all, but rather some more special science. I mean pragmatism as in...

    The study of philosophy consists, therefore, in reflexion, and pragmatism is that method of reflexion which is guided by constantly holding in view its purpose and the purpose of the ideas it analyzes, whether these ends be of the nature and uses of action or of thought.CS Peirce as quoted in Wikipedia on The Pragmatic Maxim
  • BitconnectCarlos
    250


    Maybe a thread about it would be useful.

    Pierce also said: "Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object." This was his version of the pragmatic maxim.

    If pragmatism is just about keeping purposes in mind then it's pretty innocuous, but I think it's founders had a little more in mind than that.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    I was originally going to refer to that exact quote, but when I pulled up the wiki to make sure I had it right, I saw that other even better quote and decided to use it instead.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    250


    I think by 'practical effects' he means the effects which actually happen on the ground, not effects that you theorize to happen. The ultimate verdict of a theory for the pragmatists would be if it actually works during its implementation, not whether the relations between the abstract ideas work out.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    That is true, but that's not saying we do philosophy by experiment. "your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object." It's saying that, for example, empiricism is a correct philosophical position, as opposed to speculating about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or whatnot, because empiricism is concerned with the practical observables of things: the upshot of a scientific theory (a conception of what is real) is the observations it predicts, and the truth of that theory is to be judged by whether those observations actually take place when predicted. Empiricism says that we should do experiments to figure out what it true about the world. But we don't do experiments to tell whether empiricism itself is the correct philosophical stance.

    But this is really getting off topic for this thread. There are multiple other places in later chapters where I apply pragmatism, and we should save more of this discussion for there, rather than weighing in on whether the "pragmatic" in the title is accurate without having read the actual work yet.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    Very loosely speaking, that general view I support is merely that there are correct answers to be had for all meaningful questions about both reality and morality, and that we can in principle differentiate those from the incorrect ones; and that those correct answers are not correct simply because someone decreed them such one day, but rather they are independent of anyone's particular opinions and grounded instead in our common experience. — Codex into

    For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed.
    The riddle does not exist.
    If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.
    — Ludwig Wittgenstein

    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
  • Janus
    8.8k
    Wittgenstein here says nothing about how many ways in which askable questions can be answered, though; that is whether there is "one true answer" to any coherent question.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    I take it that's offering a Wittgenstein quote that you think encapsulates the same thing that I'm saying? If so, thanks! I'll try to integrate that somewhere soon, though I think it may be more appropriate for the essay on Commensurablism (where I lay out that general philosophy in more detail) than for the introduction.

    It sounds to me that saying a question can be answered is saying that there is a true answer to it. That answer may be broad and admit of multiple specific implementations, but if it can be truly answered that suggest that at least there cannot be contrary answers, i.e. mere differences of opinions.
  • Janus
    8.8k
    It sounds to me that saying a question can be answered is saying that there is a true answer to it. That answer may be broad and admit of multiple specific implementations, but if it can be truly answered that suggest that at least there cannot be contrary answers, i.e. mere differences of opinions.Pfhorrest

    That sounds right. There may be many answers to a question, as the question might be considered in various contexts, but in any given context it would seem absurd to say that there could be contradictory answers to it.

    So, that might apply to ethical or moral questions, where different answers might be given in different cultural contexts. Or if such questions are merely matters of opinion, then a question that calls for an overarching answer would not be appropriate.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    So, that might apply to ethical or moral questions, where different answers might be given in different cultural contexts. Or if such questions are merely matters of opinion, then a question that calls for an overarching answer would not be appropriate.Janus

    My position that unenlightened quoted is specifically taking a stance against that kind of thing (cultural relativism, everything being just matters of opinion), but it occurs to me that Wittgenstein's quote isn't. I am saying "P therefore Q" and he's saying "if not Q then not P", which both have in common "if P then Q" but I'm explicitly affirming P (there are meaningful questions, which therefore have answers) while from what I understand of Wittgenstein he's more likely, regarding moral questions at least, to deny Q, to say that there are no answers and therefore the question is meaningless.
  • Janus
    8.8k
    while from what I understand of Wittgenstein he's more likely, regarding moral questions at least, to deny Q, to say that there are no answers and therefore the question is meaningless.Pfhorrest

    I think that's right, at least regarding the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus. Later Wittgenstein would say that, for example, overarching ethical, aesthetical and theological questions are not meaningless despite the fact that no inter-subjectively determinable answers to them can be given. Instead they gain their meaning in relation to the common usages involved in their respective language games. Of course, it may then follow that there are meaningful questions to which no one true answer can be found.
  • unenlightened
    4.2k
    I take it that's offering a Wittgenstein quote that you think encapsulates the same thing that I'm saying? If so, thanksPfhorrest

    Well it came to mind as I read you. But I think on further consideration W realised that there are questions that can only be answered with one's life. "Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?" It is not "I do" that answers, but the actual doing.
  • TheMadFool
    4.9k
    :clap: :clap: :victory:

    Wow! You have a book!! I have doodles on scraps of paper. :sad:
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    But I think on further consideration W realised that there are questions that can only be answered with one's life. "Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?" It is not "I do" that answers, but the actual doing.unenlightened

    Good point. My passage you quoted does have the "of reality and morality" clause, limiting the scope of my claim to just those two types of speech-act, which I elaborate upon later in my essay On Meaning and Language, which also briefly touches on the existence of those kinda of bidirectional speech-acts.

    Wow! You have a book!! I have doodles on scraps of paper. :sad:TheMadFool

    This book started as doodles like this (later redrawn on computer obviously) in my notebook during my first philosophy class. (I'm glad I titled that file "nonsense", because even I can't make any sense of it now, 16 years later.) Maybe some day you will have a book too.
  • Jim Grossmann
    10
    "Pragmatism" in philosophy refers to a specific movement, whose champions include William James and John Dewey. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pragmatism/
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Not sure if you're addressing me or BitconnectCarlos, but both of us mean it in that sense (CS Peirce is up there above James and Dewey among founders of Pragmatism, and we were both quoting him at each other), but we disagree about what the qualifications are to be counted as part of that movement.
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