• Jim Grossmann
    10
    Thanks for telling me about Pierce. :-) Good to know you've got a handle on pragmatism, whichever one of you you are! :-)
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    If I were to ask you to defend libertarian socialism...BitconnectCarlos

    I'm kind of going off-topic in my own thread / getting ahead of the game here, but for some reason this question just popped back into my head again and I wanted to give kind of a response to it.

    The way I get to libertarian socialism from a pragmatic grounding isn't by starting with the question "is this the best political system?" but with much more general questions like "What do we mean by 'better'? And what is a political system supposed to do?" and tackle those in a pragmatic way. As we'll see in more detail in the later essays on these topics, I first address what prescriptive questions are practically asking for, then later what criteria are practicable ones by which to judge the answers to those questions, then what is a practical way of applying those criteria, and (glossing over all of that that will be covered later) end up with a liberal hedonistic altruism as the most pragmatic way of figuring out answers to prescriptive questions; of figuring out what to do. A political system is supposed to tell who has prescriptive authority, and from the "liberal" part of the aforementioned system it follows that nobody has prescriptive authority: in other words, philosophical anarchism.

    But even the briefest reflection on the practical implementation of anarchism shows that to keep people from exercising prescriptive authority they don't rightfully have requires a general degree of equality, which is where the socialist aspect comes from. How exactly to keep people generally equal, so they can be free of each other's unwarranted prescriptive authority, without in the process exercising such authority oneself, is a question that leaves the domain of philosophy and enters the domain of a more applied ethical science (as I'll call them later), like political science, where case studies etc are applicable. The goal of libertarian socialism is a philosophical result, reached a priori with only regard for the practical ends that are in mind -- what are we trying to do, and what is a logically entailed sub-goal required to do that -- but how to get libertarian socialism is a scientific question, to be answered a posteriori.
  • Douglas Alan
    161
    I haven't had time yet to dive into your book, but I agree with those who say that you should remove any Latin from the title of your book. I think it would just annoy most potential readers rather than entice them.

    I suppose the reason for this is that you seem to be implying, "Look! Look! I'm as smart and as important as Newton! Or at least Wittgenstein." And most people will just roll their eyes at that implicit statement.

    |>ouglas
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    That makes me sad. I'm very attached to the "Codex" title, having been working on this project under that name for almost a decade and a half now.

    It's meant (along with the cover design) to be eye-catching to a lay audience who may not be familiar with philosophy: stark black book with gold writing and symbols and a weird name, followed by a subtitle with large "philosophy" to tell you quickly what the topic of it is about.

    If I did away with the "Codex" part I'd probably do away with everything before "Philosophy" and leave it just "Philosophy: From the Meaning of Words to the Meaning of Life". That part of the subtitle is only a very recent invention... like last month recent.

    I would hope that anyone who would read so far as the introduction wouldn't think I'm trying to sound as important as any big-name figures, as I feel like I'm very self-deprecating there, looking back with shame on the younger version of me who dreamed that maybe some day I would be.

    That self-deprecation isn't an act either; I'm very... I want to say "ashamed" but that's not quite the right word, nor is "embarrassed"... something vaguely opposite of "proud"... of this work. Like it's really far too little far to late, it makes me look bad to have spent so long producing so little, and I maybe I ought never have begun it. But it's been my "life's work" for most of my adult life, and to abandon it completely feels like just giving up on life, which is something I'm struggling quite hard not to do these days.

    And I've felt similarly about other major projects I've worked on, and though it might have taken over two decades, at least one of those has developed something of a fandom, some people who are glad I did it and think it was worthwhile to do, so I cautiously hold a tiny bit of hope -- so tiny I feel bad even admitting it -- that maybe this one might someday too.
  • Douglas Alan
    161


    I don't know if "codex" is too pretentious. It may be Latin, but it's also English. On the other hand, "quarentis" doesn't mean anything to me, but I can tell it's Latin, and hence it comes across to me as an attempt to appear more educated than I am.

    |>ouglas
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    I just realized that I forgot to ask for one rather important piece of feedback, which thankfully has not applied to the five essay thus far, but will be important to ask about on the other seventeen still to come:

    - Are there any subtopics I have neglected to cover?

    I've added that to the OP of this thread now, and will include it in the OP of future threads as well.
  • bert1
    536
    I like the cover. Looks like it was wrestled from a Lich and you're about to level up big time after reading it.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Hahah, thanks :)
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Tonight I made a pretty major reorganization of the start of this whole project. I moved the Metaphilosophy essay to be first, and then the essay on my general philosophy of Commensurablism to come after that, before the four Against essays. I cleaned everything up to make sense of the new order, and also expanded significantly on the Definition section of Metaphilosophy, adding a section about philosophy's relation to sophistry as a counterpart to its relation to religion (roughly correlating with my stances against nihilism and fideism).

    I also realized that at some point in this version of the project I had lost the use of the term "Analytic Pragmatism" for my metaphilosophy, which is why "A Pragmatic Analysis" is part of the title. I think perhaps part of that was because I was unhappy with the word "Analytic" in there, as I mean for it to be sort of the opposite of "Pragmatic", as in concerned with language and ideas in the abstract, rather than practical action. But I can't think of a better alternative, and I'd appreciate some help if anyone can lend it.

    The problem is that:

    Analytic is already the opposite of synthetic.

    Abstract is already the opposite of concrete.

    Idealistic is already the opposite of materialistic.

    ________ is the opposite of pragmatic, but not in a pejorative way, just a way that means something like analytic/abstract/idealistic?

    ("Theoretic" occurs to me, but elsewhere I pair that with "Strategic", so I don't want to reuse that here too).
  • Mww
    1.8k
    Speculative.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    681
    ________ is the opposite of pragmatic, but not in a pejorative way, just a way that means something like analytic/abstract/idealistic?

    ("Theoretic" occurs to me, but elsewhere I pair that with "Strategic", so I don't want to reuse that here too).

    Personally, I would use theoretic as an opposite of pragmatic. I would never pair theoretic and strategic as opposites. The opposite of strategic would be, if I had to think of something, unthinking or reflexive (meaning - acting on reflexes) or short-term thinking or impulsive maybe. Honestly, I know it's boring, but unstrategic or poorly thought out work well here.

    Good strategy often involves months and months of theoretical planning - take military plans.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Thanks for the idea, but that doesn't really seem the right fit. Analytic philosophy is juxtaposed to speculative philosophy, for instance, and the meaning I'm looking for it more like "analytic", though of course I'm trying to replace that word in this instance.

    I don't mean I juxtapose theoretic and strategic as opposite approaches to the same thing, but rather as parallels in different things. Theory is about explaining how things happen, strategy is about planning how to make them happen; one is about beliefs, the other is about intentions. They're both equally well thought-out, but in different domains, and in that way both of them are equally pragmatic, but also similarly... abstract? Analytic? Whatever the word I'm looking for here is.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    I'm considering maybe doing away with the "quaerentis: a pragmatic analysis of philosophy part" and just making the second word after "codex" something clearly identifiable as relating to philosophy. Like "Codex Philosophia", but that mixes Latin and Greek.

    Do you have any suggestions in that regard?

    Would that seem better to you as well?

    Also considering working in "No Unquestionable Answers Or Unanswerable Questions" in there somehow, since that is the succinct summary of my entire philosophy, but that seems like the title would get awkwardly long in that case. Like "The Codex Philosophia: No Unquestionable Answers Or Unanswerable Questions, from the Meaning of Words to the Meaning of Life". Too long, no?
  • 180 Proof
    1.8k
    "The Codex Philosophia ..." isn't really that much more quixotically prolix than (e.g.) On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason ... :nerd:
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    Are there any subtopics I have neglected to cover?Pfhorrest

    All of them. I’d advise sticking to one in depth piece of writing rather than scattered pieces that try to cover everything - and essentially fail.

    It feels like you’ve given me a collection of synopsis’s and want me to view it as a singular piece of writing.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Can you elaborate on what kind of thing has not been covered, say just on one subtopic as an example? I.e. what questions from that subtopic have not been addressed?

    In any case I'm definitely not going to completely change the entire point of this project, which is to present a complete system of philosophy, relating positions on different topics to each other and grounding them all in the same common principles. That relational aspect is the most novel thing in here, e.g. my deontology and my epistemology are just descriptive and prescriptive applications of the exact same general principles.

    But if I need to go into more depth some place or another I would like to know what is not adequately explained, and why not. I have tried to err on the side of being less wordy, especially when in many cases there are other authors who have already given much wordier explorations of the same or similar subjects.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    Who are you writing for? Who is your audience?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Primarily I am writing for someone like myself, especially someone like I was when I had first discovered philosophy and was trying to find, for lack of a better word, "an identity", in the field; I tried on a bunch of different -isms and none of them were really me, for years and decades I couldn't find any existing all-around philosophical position that I didn't find any problem with, so I started writing down what I though the best take-aways from the various different competing positions on different topics were, or my syntheses or new ideas when none of them had anything worth taking away, and how they all seemed to relate to each other, how many positions I found problems with had the same problems as common premises, and conversely all the positions that seemed sound to me in many different sub-fields all had the same deep premises as each other (those being the negations of those ones underlying all the problematic positions).
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    I'm curious if you read through this from the beginning, or (if you just clicked into a random essay) if you followed the links back to earlier essays when they're mentioned? The whole thing builds on itself; no one essay is meant to stand entirely on its own, and most of the later, topical essays refer back to at least the essay on Commensurablism or the four Against essays for the primary argumentation to support them.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    Cut the autobiographical tone then (cut the ‘I’). No one cares who you are or what your views are. People read to explore not to be shown what you know, why you know it or what ideas you have to share.

    If it’s for your own purposes, great! If written for others to read, it’s poorly thought out possesses little structure for the reader to grab onto (nothing of any immediate interest or concern - present a clear problem/argument EARLY). It might help to start at the end to garner interest/curiosity by showing the reader the potential use of the problem/argument.

    You start off by literally showing us what you know. It is exactly the style of writing reminiscent of high school students. You’re not writing for teachers. We don’t care about what you’ve learnt we’re reading for US.

    Note: I am not critiquing the content only the presentation. Your intent isn’t clear - meaning you’ve not presented the reader with a problem to engage with or offered up critique of your given topic (which is nebulous at best).
  • Zophie
    84
    With the above criticism in mind I'd like to commend you for having the courage to systematize your thoughts. Everyone has a personal ontology and making that plain is unusually useful for communication.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    Agreed. It’s incredibly useful to write/speak what you think.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Thanks for the praise but I don't understand what's courageous. Are other people afraid to systematize their thoughts?

    Cut the autobiographical tone then (cut the ‘I’).I like sushi

    I was taught that proper philosophical writing is done from the first person, and lots of (if not most) notable historical philosophy has been written this way. I'm also trying to be humble in my presentation, and avoid sounding like Tractacus-era Wittgenstein, like I did when I was younger: just stating my core premises as facts authoritatively and then deriving all of the consequences from that. I'm also trying not to sound combative, like I'm attacking anyone's worldview, because that is not a productive way to change anyone's mind about anything. (I already rearranged the order of the essays so it doesn't begin with an attack on faith; the old structure was an attack on fideism, an attack on nihilism, attacks on things that reduced to either fideism or nihilism, and then finally my own moderate viewpoint; now I put my view first, and then go into why those alternatives are wrong). I even say in the introduction:

    I don't even intend to, properly speaking, argue in a persuasive way that you the reader ought to change your mind in this way or that. Instead, I intend merely to state what it is that I think, and why I think it, and leave it to you to consider the merits of those thoughts and my reasons for them, and what if any impact that ought to have on your own view of the world. I am merely presenting my worldview here for you to try on for size, and see how you like it.The Codex Quaerentis: Introduction

    That is also in keeping with the very philosophy I end up laying out, where the proper method of investigation is not by starting with some kind of iron-clad indisputable foundational principles and then building an unassailable castle of impenetrable reasoning out of that, but instead by starting with a bunch of initially-equal possible opinions and then whittling away at the ones that can be shown problematic.

    In the Codex I am elaborating on my views as a possibility that perhaps hasn't yet been considered by the reader, showing what the problems are with broad swathes of alternatives to it, and then further elaborating on how all the myriad of different topics can be accounted for under my view. E.g. my core principles have immediate implications on ontology, epistemology, and normative ethics, which have their own sub-topics that then need to be addresed; but those views on those topics then raise immediate questions about the mind and the will ("but if the world is all physical and causal then is there no consciousness or freedom!?"), educational and governmental institutes ("but if appeals to authority are wrong then are all religions and states unjustified!?"); and issues about language (including logic, mathematics, rhetoric, and the arts) need to be addressed to make sense of all of that; and all of that together then finally provides a ground to answer the big questions people are really looking for answers to, about the meaning of life.

    I do say a variety of things like that in several parts of the introduction, both at the very beginning and at the very end:

    When many people think of philosophy, the first thing that comes to mind is often a vague question about the meaning of life. Besides that, people will most often think of big social questions regarding religion or politics, or perhaps more psychological questions about consciousness or free will. In these essays I will address all of those topics. But to do so I must first address more general topics about knowledge and reality, justice and morality, and even more abstract topics about the very language we use to discuss any of this, including logic, mathematics, rhetoric, and the arts. And before even that, I must address the nature of philosophy itself, and the different possible ways of broadly approaching it.

    [...]

    In the essays that follow, I will begin by laying out my metaphilosophy, my take on what we are even trying to do in the practice of philosophy, followed by a picture of what kind of philosophical view I very generally support, and then the broad kinds of philosophical views that I am consequently against. [...] In the rest of the essays that follow, I will lay out more specifically what my positions are on a wide variety of particular philosophical topics, ranging from abstract matters concerning language, art, and math; through descriptive matters concerning reality and knowledge; through prescriptive matters concerning morality and justice; and finally on matters of empowerment and enlightenment, inspiring the pursuit of goodness and truth, practical action, and the meaning of life.
    The Codex Quaerentis: Introduction

    But maybe I could punch up that first paragraph some (you actually gave me an idea to begin with the same sentence that I end with), and make it more explicit how all these topics relate to each other and what the point of going over them all is. Possibly rearrange and rephrase some of the intro more too. I have a little time this afternoon, maybe I'll give that a go soon.

    You start off by literally showing us what you know. It is exactly the style of writing reminiscent of high school students. You’re not writing for teachers. We don’t care about what you’ve learnt we’re reading for US.I like sushi

    The point isn't to show off my knowledge, but rather to not assume anything about the reader's knowledge. I'm picturing trying to explain my philosophy to my (largely uneducated) mom when I write; or, as I said, myself from twenty years ago, when I barely even know what the word "philosophy" meant. As I say in the intro already:

    These essays are targeted primarily at a lay audience, one without professional philosophical education, and as such I will be attempting to include a brief education on the arguments that have been had thus far on each topic that I will discuss, definitions of the technical terminology used, and so forth.The Codex Quaerentis: Introduction
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    Okay, I tried to punch up the opening a little bit, by combining the elided bit from the last section that I quoted above, with the old first paragraph, heavily rephrased, much more dramatically, and beginning with the same sentence as the last essay ends with:

    It may be hopeless, but I'm trying anyway.

    Trying to succeed, trying to act properly, trying to live a meaningful life, trying to be the best person I can be. Trying to empower and enlighten myself and others, to bolster and support the right institutes of governance and education, that will best promote justice and knowledge, helping bring ours wills and our minds into alignment with what is moral and what is real, respectively. Trying to understand what it even means for something to be moral or for something to be real, by understanding the language we use to even discuss any of this, be it descriptive language making claims about reality, or prescriptive language making claims about morality — and to understand all that that entails about logic, mathematics, rhetoric, and the arts, as they shape our use of such language.

    Maybe that endeavor is hopeless. Maybe life is meaningless, all social institutes are incorrigibly corrupt, justice and knowledge are impossible, the mind and will (if there even are such things) powerless to grasp what is real or what is moral, if anything is actually real or moral at all, if it even makes any sense to try to talk about such things. Maybe that's all hopeless. But just in case it's not, I think we stand a better chance of succeeding at that endeavor, should success be at all possible, if we act on the assumption that it's not hopeless, and we try anyway.

    That is the core principle at the heart of my philosophy, that I am to elaborate in the following essays. I consider the general philosophical view supported by that principle to be a naively uncontroversial, common-sense kind of view, from which various other philosophical schools of thought deviate in different ways. In these essays I aim to shore up and refine that common-sense view into a more rigorous form that can better withstand the temptation of such deviation, and to show the common error underlying all of those different deviations from this common-sense view.

    Put most succinctly, that common error is assuming the false dichotomy that either there must be some unquestionable answers, or else we will be left with some unanswerable questions. All of the deviations from the common-sense view I defend stem ultimately from falling to one side or the other of that false dichotomy, on some topic or another. In contrast, my philosophy is the view that there are no unanswerable questions, and no unquestionable answers.

    Very loosely speaking, that means that there are correct answers to be had for all meaningful questions, both about reality and about morality, and that we can in principle differentiate those correct answers from the incorrect ones; and that those correct answers are not correct simply because someone decreed them so, but rather, they are independent of anyone's particular opinions, and grounded instead in our common experience. Put another way: that what is true and what is good are beyond the decree of any of us, yet within reach of each of us; and that we can in principle always eventually tell whether someone's opinion is right or wrong, but we can never immediately assume any opinion to be such, and must give each the benefit of the doubt until proof is found one way or the other.

    That general philosophical view is the underlying reason I will give for all of my more specific philosophical views: everything that follows does so as necessary to conform to that broad general philosophy, rejecting any views that require either just taking someone's word on some question or else giving up all hope of ever answering such a question, settling on whatever views remain in the wake of that rejection.

    The core principles I will outline have immediate implications about what kinds of things are real, what kinds of things are moral, the methods of attaining knowledge, and the methods of attaining justice, which will each be covered in their own essays. Those positions then raise immediate questions about the nature of the mind and the will, and the legitimacy of educational and governmental institutes, which will again each be covered in their own essays. All of that requires a framework of linguistic meaning to make any sense of, which will be covered in its own essay, along with attendant essays on the related topics of logic and mathematics, and rhetoric and the arts, each covering different facets of communication in more detail. And with all of that in place, we finally have the background to tackle the most practical questions of enlightenment, empowerment, and leading a meaningful life, each of which will be covered in its own essay as well.

    But before any of that that, I must first address the nature of philosophy itself. As I will elaborate, I see philosophy as the most central field of study, bridging the most abstract of topics like language, math, and the arts, to the physical and ethical sciences that in turn support the development of all the practical tools used to do the jobs of all the world's various trades. It is in light of that far-reaching pragmatic role of philosophy that I will begin my approach to the subject.
    The Codex Quarentis: Introduction

    It's almost even more first-person than before, but I think it's also a lot more engaging. At least I hope.

    I also made smaller modifications to the rest of the intro, including removing the mention of my degree, which I agree just kind of sounded boastful.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    I'm also trying to be humble in my presentationPfhorrest

    Yes, because it’s for the ‘layman’. If you’re dumbing down the text you’re addressing philosophers so you shouldn’t be writing a philosophical piece - pick your audience rather than trying to cater to all (it won’t work).

    You absolutely have to grab your reader early on. It is not ‘combative’ to present a problem and to say something someone says is wrong - that is telling the reader why your piece of writing is of value.

    that is not a productive way to change anyone's mind about anything.Pfhorrest

    That’s another problem. People don’t read things to have their mind changed. You present a problem they care about, offer a better solution (a brief explanation of the solution) and then investigate it at length (warts and all).

    I don't even intend to, properly speaking, argue in a persuasive way that you the reader ought to change your mind in this way or that. Instead, I intend merely to state what it is that I think, and why I think it, and leave it to you to consider the merits of those thoughts and my reasons for them, and what if any impact that ought to have on your own view of the world. I am merely presenting my worldview here for you to try on for size, and see how you like it.The Codex Quaerentis: Introduction

    Who cares? What’s the point? What are you selling? Pose some questions for the reader to ponder (a great many pop-science books do this because it engages interest in the reader by interacting with them.

    That is basically like saying I have some opinions about life. That is the nebulous part I was talking about. You hinted at relativism earlier on but never explicitly mentioned it - that would’ve anchored the reader a little.

    Look here:

    The core principles I will outline have immediate implications about what kinds of things are real, what kinds of things are moral, the methods of attaining knowledge, and the methods of attaining justice, which will each be covered in their own essays. Those positions then raise immediate questions about the nature of the mind and the will, and the legitimacy of educational and governmental institutes, which will again each be covered in their own essays. All of that requires a framework of linguistic meaning to make any sense of, which will be covered in its own essay, along with attendant essays on the related topics of logic and mathematics, and rhetoric and the arts, each covering different facets of communication in more detail. And with all of that in place, we finally have the background to tackle the most practical questions of enlightenment, empowerment, and leading a meaningful life, each of which will be covered in its own essay as well.

    But before any of that that, I must first address the nature of philosophy itself. As I will elaborate, I see philosophy as the most central field of study, bridging the most abstract of topics like language, math, and the arts, to the physical and ethical sciences that in turn support the development of all the practical tools used to do the jobs of all the world's various trades. It is in light of that far-reaching pragmatic role of philosophy that I will begin my approach to the subject.

    This would turn off the majority of your readers. You tease your reader by building up then evade. The reader still has no reason to continue nor any knowledge of what they’re reading or of any potential value for themselves. You’ve just constructed a huge barrier between the writing and your reader (note: not YOU and your reader; you don’t matter to them at all).

    If you think my points aren’t valid hire a professional editor to look at your work and see if they echo what I’ve said. I’m certain they would.

    Note: to repeat, this has nothing to do with the philosophical content.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    You hinted at relativism earlier onI like sushi

    Where? I think you might have misunderstood something.

    This would turn off the majority of your readers.I like sushi

    What would? Saying that I’m going to talk about metaphilosophy (for one chapter) before all the other philosophy I “teased”? Saying that philosophy is of wide practical importance to everything else, and that I’ll elaborate why? What?
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    I’m not asking for critique of my critique. Take it or leave it. I’m only responding because there is potential - for what, I’m still unsure because I have no idea what you’re going to do with this.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.1k
    I’m not critiquing your critique, just asking for clarification. I don’t understand specifically which part you find problematic and why.

    I welcome specific, actionable criticism, suggestions for how I can do what I’m trying to do better. The only thing I dislike is responding is to “how do I do this better?” with “don’t do that” — i.e. scrap the whole thing.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    All of it. The structure and layout is not engaging. Reread what I’ve said, I;ve told you this already. Failing that, hire a professional to get some feedback.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    Examples of problems in the text:

    It may be hopeless, but I'm trying anyway.

    Instantly turned off. That is no way to engage the reader. Essentially you just said, what I’m about to say is most probably useless (whether it is or it isn’t doesn't matter). It would be better to start with a ‘gist’ sentence.

    Trying to succeed, trying to live a meaningful life, trying enjoy myself, trying to do the right thing. Trying to empower and enlighten myself and others, to bolster and support the right institutes of governance and education, that will best promote justice and knowledge, helping bring ours wills and our minds into alignment with what is moral and what is real, respectively. Trying to understand what it even means for something to be moral or for something to be real, by understanding the language we use to even discuss any of this, be it descriptive language making claims about reality, or prescriptive language making claims about morality — and to understand all that that entails about logic, mathematics, rhetoric, and the arts, as they shape our use of such language.

    Too much, too many ‘trying’ broken up by a needlessly long sentence doing the same thing - listing. People don’t like to read lists.

    Note: You’ve still not given me a anchor. No question or clear problem revealed.

    Maybe that endeavor is hopeless. Maybe life is meaningless, all social institutes are incorrigibly corrupt, justice and knowledge are impossible, the mind and will (if there even are such things) powerless to grasp what is real or what is moral, if anything is actually real or moral at all, if it even makes any sense to try to talk about such things. Maybe that's all hopeless. But just in case it's not, I think we stand a better chance of succeeding at that endeavor, should success be at all possible, if we act on the assumption that it's not hopeless, and we try anyway.

    One key word ‘But’. It comes far too late after two long lists spattered with terms that don’t encourage the reader (eg. ‘hopeless,’ ‘maybe,’ ‘trying,’ ‘powerless’).

    And here’s a clunky part:

    That general philosophical view is the underlying reason I will give for all of my more specific philosophical views: everything that follows does so as necessary to conform to that broad general philosophy, rejecting any views that require either just taking someone's word on some question or else giving up all hope of ever answering such a question, settling on whatever views remain in the wake of that rejection.

    That’s one sentence!? Fair enough if you were outlining some specific point of import and selecting your words carefully and economically to get the thrust of your point across ... but you weren’t.

    Note: I write like this too often enough. I try my best to edit as I write, but in reality editing some time after you’ve written your original piece with a highly self-critical attitude will improve both your ability to edit as you write and leave less work later on.

    It could be that you’re looking at your writing as a set of ideas instead of a piece of writing. Forget what you’re saying and focus on how it reads. Pick up any pop-science/philosophy book and analyse how they open their subject matter up and the kind of questions they pose.

    Examples from my shelf (four books picked at random):

    ‘In her book, Philosophy in a New Key, Susanne Langer remarks that certain ideas burst upon the intellectual landscape with tremendous force...’

    We know this person has studied something and also setting up a potential ‘But...’ (Opening Chapter directly after preface)

    ‘All states, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been and are either republics or principalities.’

    The subject matter is clear and there is a hint of ‘But...’ (Opening chapter after dedication)

    ‘Greek and Roman mythology is quite generally supposed to show us the way the human race thought and felt untold ages ago.’

    Preempting an obvious ‘But...’ (Opening sentences of Intro)

    ‘The extraordinary interest aroused all over the world by Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige (The Sacred), published in 1917, still persists.’

    I sentence that displays both subject matter and the value of the coming content. (Opening sentences of Intro)

    Your first few lines sound like the start of a novel as do the lists.

    I would start something like this:

    Throughout the history of human civilization we have found ourselves struggling with numerous questions, be these intellectual, moral and/or socially concerned. Even today a great many people will be asking themselves what the point is, or holding to some way of life based loosely on the life and thoughts of people long dead - be this Epictetus, the slave, Christ the Savior, or Albert Camus’ and his ‘absurd’ view of human existence. But is there really a ‘best’ way to live our lives? Should we cut our own uniques paths through time or live by the ideals set out by others? How should we live?
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