• Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    This thread is a continuation of the multi-thread project begun here.

    In this thread we discuss the essay Against Transcendentalism, in which I springboard off my previous essay Against FIdeism to argue against a broad philosophical position I call transcendentalism, including within that arguments against supernaturalism, a prescriptive analogue of supernaturalism for which I don't have a good name (input welcome there!), and certain senses of materialism, including both a descriptive one and a prescriptive one.

    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!
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    there's a basic point of Kant's transcendental arguments that I think you have missed. This is the idea that the intellectual faculties which render experience intelligible are not themselves disclosed in experience. Typically, Kant's transcendental argument starts from some accepted aspect of experience, and then deduces what must be true for experience to be possible. And in Kant's arguments, some primary attributes of the intellect, for example the categories of the understanding, along with the primary intuitions of space and time, are what makes experience intelligible in the first place, even though they themselves are not revealed in experience, but only by reasoned analysis.

    In fact, all you're doing in this essay is identifying the transcendental with the supernatural:

    Transcendentalist opinions, as I mean the word, are precisely those that would demand appeals to faith to support them, because they make claims about things that nobody could ever check, those things being beyond all experience.

    However, Kant doesn't appeal to faith in support of his transcendental arguments, but to reason

    I am also not rejecting "living a spiritual life", in the sense of things like meditative or ritualistic practices. Those very well might be good things, so far as this rejection of transcendentalism goes, but if they are good things, their goodness is dependent upon them making people feel good somehow; if they are held to be good regardless of whether they make anyone feel good, only then do I consider them transcendentalist, and reject them.

    Thereby 'subjectivizing' it. Compare this note on Adorno's criticism of the way in which modern societies 'subjectivize' moral principles.

    Adorno argues that morality has fallen victim to the distinction drawn between objective and subjective knowledge. Objective knowledge consists of empirically verifiable facts about material phenomena, whereas subjective knowledge consists of all that remains, including such things as evaluative and normative statements. On this view, a statement such as 'I am sitting at a desk as I write this essay' is of a different category to the statement 'abortion is morally wrong'. The first statement is amenable to empirical verification, whereas the latter is an expression of a personal, subjective belief. Adorno argues that moral beliefs and moral reasoning have been confined to the sphere of subjective knowledge. He argues that, under the force of the instrumentalization of reason and positivism, we have come to conceive of the only meaningfully existing entities as empirically verifiable facts: statements on the structure and content of reality. Moral values and beliefs, in contrast, are denied such a status.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Thanks for the feedback, but I think perhaps you read a bit too quickly and are seeing what you expect rather than what I say. I'm not objecting to Kant's transcendental idealism, but to what Kant called transcendental realism, which he also objected to. Kant equated transcendental idealism with empiricial realism (reality is what we experience, and we have only ideas of what may transcend experience), and likewise equated transcendental realism with empirical idealism (reality is beyond experience, and our experiences are just our ideas about it). He supported the former and opposed the latter, as do I.

    Thereby 'subjectivizing' it. Compare this note on Adorno's criticism of the way in which modern societies 'subjectivize' moral principles.Wayfarer

    I'm very much not arguing for moral subjectivism, any more than I am arguing for factual subjectivism; the very next essay is all about opposing both of those. As I said in this essay, I see hedonic experience as the moral analogue of empirical experience, the way to ground (objective) claims about morality in the way that empirical experience grounds claims about reality. Experience of any kind is in a way "subjective", being that it is subjects that do the experiencing, but that applies every bit as much to empiricism as to hedonism: empirical experiences are subjective experiences just as much as hedonic experiences are, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a common, objective truth to be found in either of them.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    I'm not objecting to Kant's transcendental idealism,Pfhorrest

    But you say:

    "Transcendent" in general means "going beyond", and the word has many different senses in philosophy and other fields, but the sense that I'm using here is roughly that of Immanuel Kant, who used it as the antonym for "empirical".

    What I said was you’re misrepresenting transcendental idealism, in that you don’t convey an understanding of what Kant means by ‘transcendental’ which he distinguishes from ‘the transcendent’. Kant means by 'transcendental' analysis of the conditions of the possibility of knowledge itself. He opposed the term 'transcendental' to 'transcendent', the latter meaning "that which goes beyond" (transcends) any possible knowledge of a human being (which is the only meaning you address). For him 'transcendental' meant knowledge about our cognitive faculties in respect of how knowledge of objects is possible a priori. "I call all knowledge transcendental if it is occupied, not with objects, but with the way that we can possibly know objects even before we experience them."

    Do you see this distinction?


    I'm very much not arguing for moral subjectivismPfhorrest

    But you say of the fruits of the spiritual life that:

    if they are good things, their goodness is dependent upon them making people feel good somehow; if they are held to be good regardless of whether they make anyone feel good, only then do I consider them transcendentalist, and reject them.

    You explicitly say, they have value only insofar as 'they make the individual feel good', but reject any sense in which they can be said to be truly good in their own right. Which is the exact meaning of ‘subjectivism’, isn't it?
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    What I said was you’re misrepresenting transcendental idealism, in that you don’t convey an understanding of what Kant means by ‘transcendental’ which he distinguishes from ‘the transcendent’. Kant means by 'transcendental' analysis of the conditions of the possibility of knowledge itself. He opposed the term 'transcendental' to 'transcendent', the latter meaning "that which goes beyond" (transcends) any possible knowledge of a human being (which is the only meaning you address). For him 'transcendental' meant knowledge about our cognitive faculties in respect of how knowledge of objects is possible a priori. "I call all knowledge transcendental if it is occupied, not with objects, but with the way that we can possibly know objects even before we experience them."Wayfarer

    I don't say anything at all about transcendental idealism, just that Kant juxtaposes transcendental things with empirical things, and that's the particular sense of the word "transcendental" I mean. I also say that he's against transcendental realism, and for empirical realism, which he is. He is also for transcendental idealism and against empirical idealism, true, but I'm not talking about either of those things at this point, just transcendental realism (vs empiricial realism) and a moral analogue thereof (vs hedonism). I do talk about Kantian categories in later essays, but that's not the focus here.

    Can you cite anything about this supposed distinction between "transcendent" and "transcendental" in Kant's usage?

    You explicitly say, they have value only insofar as 'they make the individual feel good', but reject any sense in which they can be said to be truly good in their own right. Which is the exact meaning of ‘subjectivism’, isn't it?Wayfarer

    On my account, people feeling good is good in its own right; it is objectively good for people to feel good. So the whole of my morality is not subjective, except to the same extent that empiricism is likewise subjective, which in a sense both are but in another sense neither is. You were comparing the subjectivity of hedonic value judgement to the objectivity of empirical fact judgement, though; I'm saying that they are the same, maybe "subjective" inasmuch as they depend on experience which is a subjective thing, but still possibly "objective" in the sense of there being some unbiased answer that can be discerned from those experiences.

    In that passage I am denying there is any sense to something being good or bad in a way independent of whether it (loosely speaking) feels good or bad to anyone, in the same way that I deny that there is any sense to something being true or false in a way independent of whether it (loosely speaking) looks true or false to anyone. I'm saying that whatever it objectively real or objectively moral, is so in virtue of the impact it has on experiences.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Can you cite anything about this supposed distinction between "transcendent" and "transcendental" in Kant's usage?Pfhorrest

    '"I call all cognition transcendental that is occupied not so much with objects but rather with our mode of cognition of objects insofar as this is to be possible a priori. A system of such concepts would be called transcendental philosophy." Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood, Cambridge University Press, 1998. p. 149 (B25).

    Kant doesn't oppose the transcendent and the empirical in the way you are suggesting - in respect of Kant - that 'the empirical' is what is evident in experience, and the transcendental is what is beyond it. So you're proposing a false dichotomy viz a viz Kant. See this blog post.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    That quote doesn't mention "transcendent". You're saying Kant distinguishes between "transcendent" and "transcendental", but the quote only mentions "transcendental".

    that 'the empirical' is what is evident in experience, and the transcendental is what is beyond itWayfarer
    Are you saying that that is what Kant is saying? Because that is also what I am saying. Your phrasing is unclear, and that blog post doesn't really clear anything up.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    You're saying Kant distinguishes between "transcendent" and "transcendental", but the quote only mentions "transcendental".Pfhorrest

    The distinction is fundamental to Kant.

    Are you saying that that is what Kant is saying? Because that is also what I am saying.Pfhorrest

    Sorry, no, that was unclear on my part. Yes, Kant used the term 'transcendent' to mean 'beyond the scope of empiricism'. But that is not the same as what he means by 'transcendental' which, as I said above, concerns the analysis of the conditions of the possibility of knowledge itself. This is the basis of his basic argument, that there is a sense in which the mind 'creates' or 'constructs' experience on the basis of faculties which are not themselves amenable to empirical observation. That is the key point at issue here. So the distinction you're seeking to draw between 'the empirical' and 'the transcendent' is undercut by Kant.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    The distinction is fundamental to Kant.Wayfarer

    I'm asking you to show me where he says that, because I don't remember seeing that distinction (between transcendent and transcendental) anywhere that I've studied Kant, and it sounds prima facie ludicrous just from the common senses of those words. You gave me in response a quote that only mentions "transcendental", not "transcendent"; and the only Google result for any philosophical distinction between them I can find is a different article on the same blog you linked earlier (which makes me suspicious that you're getting your opinions from some insular Kant fandom).

    Sorry, no, that was unclear on my part. Yes, Kant used the term 'transcendent' to mean 'beyond the scope of empiricism'.Wayfarer

    Sorry, that just made what you're saying less clear, because I can't tell if you're answering "yes" or "no" to my question.

    This is the basis of his basic argument, that there is a sense in which the mind 'creates' or 'constructs' experience on the basis of faculties which are not themselves amenable to empirical observation. That is the key point at issue here.Wayfarer

    That is not the key point at issue in this essay, and it doesn't go against the thesis of this essay either. When Kant talks about these a priori conditions of experience, he is still talking about experience, what kinds of experiences are possible or necessary, which is all fine in my book, and I talk about that later in the literal book. He affirms that nothing can be said about things that are completely beyond all experience, too. (Though he seems to put more emphasis than me on "but they're still really out there", whereas I say there's no point talking about things we can't talk about, and so discard them; they seem to be his way of hanging on to objectivity, and I also hang on to objectivity, but I don't think you need to posit something we can't say anything more about to do that.)

    Anyway, all of this comparison of me to Kant and quibbling over what exactly Kant's position is is largely besides the point. I barely mention Kant at all, and the point of this essay isn't to argue against him, or really to say anything about him. It's to argue against making claims about things, real or moral, which can have no experiential import. "Transcendentalism" is just the best name I can think of for that, and the most familiarity I have with philosophical use of that term in this sense is Kant's critique of "transcendental realism".

    This is like your comments on Against Fideism all over again. I'm not setting out to argue against just any old thing called "transcendentalism", but to argue against a specific thing, the best name for which I'm aware of is "transcendentalism". If you can think of a better name for that thing, I'm open to considering it.
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    @Pfhorrest I'm sorry if you think I'm rudely ignoring your essay and the reasons you chose to use the term transcendentalism, but I can't resist a bit of Kant clarification:

    The distinction between transcendent and transcendental is very important in Kant. He uses transcendent to describe metaphysics that reaches beyond possible experience, as opposed to immanent metaphysics, which is effectively just physics (or in any case is restricted to the empirical use of the understanding). This is the distinction you have in mind in the essay.

    Let us call the principles whose application keeps altogether within the
    limits of possible experience immanent principles, and those that are to fly beyond these limits transcendent principles.
    — Kant, CPR, A296/B352-3

    In contrast, he uses transcendental to describe his own philosophy, the enquiry into the possibility of the a priori. There are quotations all over the CPR to this effect, if I recall correctly (I don't have access to it right now). Here's one I found somewhere:

    We must not call just any a priori cognition transcendental, but must call transcendental (i.e., concerning the a priori possibility or the a priori use of cognition) only that a priori cognition whereby we cognize that—and how—certain presentations (intuitions or concepts) are applied, or are possible, simply a priori. — Kant, CPR, A56/B80-81

    Since this is what Kant is doing, transcendental cognition is okay according to him, but transcendent isn't.

    This unfortunate but now unavoidable distinction makes "transcendentalism" ambiguous in a work of philosophy, even without taking into account the most common use of the term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendentalism . But maybe it's fair to use it when you define it clearly as you do, as to do with Kant's transcendent rather than his transcendental.

    EDIT: These definitions are pretty good:

    transcendent: the realm of thought which lies beyond the boundary of possible knowledge, because it consists of objects which cannot be presented to us in intuition-i.e., objects which we can never experience with our senses (sometimes called noumena). The closest we can get to gaining knowledge of the transcendent realm is to think about it by means of ideas. (The opposite of ‘transcendent’ is ‘immanent’.)

    transcendental: one of Kant’s four main perspectives, aiming to establish a kind of knowledge which is both synthetic and a priori. It is a special type of philosophical knowledge, concerned with the necessary conditions for the possibility of experience. However, Kant believes all knowing subjects assume certain transcendental truths, whether or not they are aware of it. Transcendental knowledge defines the boundary between empirical knowledge and speculation about the transcendent realm. ‘Every event has a cause’ is a typical transcendental statement. (Cf. empirical.)
    https://kantphilosophy.wordpress.com/technical-terms-of-kantian-philosophy/
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    I've just read the essay and I can see that despite the clear definition of transcendentalism at the beginning, elsewhere in the essay you use transcendental in the sense of Kant's transcendent. I don't think you can mention Kant and then ignore the distinction.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Thanks, that's exactly what I was asking Wayfarer for, so that helps a lot.

    Do you think I should rename the position that I'm against (and the essay about it) something like "transcendentism" instead of "transcendentalism", or would just making sure to use "transcendent" and not "transcendental" in the text of the essay suffice?
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    My instinct is to say you should ditch the word entirely and find something else (I may think of something later), but between those two options I'd go for the latter. The trouble with that is you inevitably introduce a distinction that you're not interested in, which distracts from your main points. In fact, that criticism would apply to the other option too.

    Incidentally, and to make things even more confusing, your own position might be classed as a form of transcendental philosophy, in that it attempts, a bit like Kant, to describe and police the boundary between legitimate and illegitimate philosophy, between thinking about the objects of experience and a speculative metaphysics about objects beyond it.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Thanks again. I've just made minor edits to the essay to make sure I don't say "transcendental", only "transcendent" or "transcendentalism", except in "transcendental realism" where it sounds like it's not a problem, and my nonce term (still hoping for a more established alternative) "transcendental moralism" in analogy to that.

    I also slightly tweaked the first paragraph to delay mention of Kant, hoping to make it seem less about him:

    I am against something that I will call "transcendentalism" for lack of a better term. "Transcendent" in general means "going beyond", and the word has many different senses in philosophy and other fields, but the sense that I'm using here is as the antonym for "phenomenal" or "experiential", so this sense of "transcendent" means "beyond experience" or "beyond appearances". Half of the kind of transcendentalism that I am against is what Immanuel Kant called "transcendental realism", which he also opposed, in contrast to what he called "empirical realism"; where "empirical", while etymologically meaning "experiential" in general, today usually means more to do with the experience of something seeming true or false, as via sight, sound, etc. But I am also opposed to what we might call "transcendental moralism", in contrast to what I would call "hedonic moralism", where "hedonic" means relating to pleasure and pain, the experience of something seeming good or bad. In short, I am opposed to views of reality that hold it to be something transcending empirical observation (seeing, hearing, touching, etc), and views of morality that hold it to be something transcending hedonic flourishing (feeling pleasures and not pains).The Codex Quaerentis: Against Transcendentalism
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Yeah I think that works.

    EDIT: Although it's probably still going to be confusing and distracting for anyone who has struggled with these terms in Kant.
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Less troublesome terms, ones that don't introduce Kant's more subtle and unique transcendental, are immanent and speculative. Kant uses these terms too, but in an obvious way that's in line with what you're saying.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Thanks, that's exactly what I was asking Wayfarer for, so that helps a lot.Pfhorrest

    I had drafted a response along those lines but Jamalrob beat me to it.

    In short, I am opposed to views of reality that hold it to be something transcending empirical observation (seeing, hearing, touching, etc), and views of morality that hold it to be something transcending hedonic flourishing (feeling pleasures and not pains).The Codex Quaerentis: Against Transcendentalism

    So, you're basically against those things which most differentiate humans from animals? Am I reading it right?
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Less troublesome terms, ones that don't introduce Kant's more subtle and unique transcendental, are immanent and speculativejamalrob

    Do you think "speculative" is really applicable to the moral aspect of the position I'm against? To my ear that sounds specifically about what might be real or true, not what might be moral or good.

    So, you're basically against those things which most differentiate humans from animals?Wayfarer

    That's a really cynical way of looking at it. Humans are a kind of animal, in any case, and I don't think this thing I'm against is nearly the most distinguishing feature of them. That I'll touch on in later essays on metaphilosophy and the philosophies of mind and will (and the application of it in the form of criticism, the opposite of fideism in the sense I mean it, is the very reason for rejecting transcendentalism in the sense I mean it).
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Do you think "speculative" is really applicable to the moral aspect of the position I'm against? To my ear that sounds specifically about what might be real or true, not what might be moral or good.Pfhorrest

    Yes, I see what you mean.
  • Mww
    1.7k
    Transcendental realism and empirical idealist are terms found in A, and dropped in B.
    Transcendental idealist = empirical realist = dualist;
    Transcendental realist = empirical idealist = psychologist.
    (A369-72)

    Transcendentalism is used twice in B, in the most generalized sense, thus of no practical import. Properly describing a New England academic/social doctrine.

    Transcendent is always in juxtaposition to immanent, and in relation to principles alone.

    Given B is properly supposed as an improvement, or at least a change in approach, it may be that either of those terms should be disavowed with respect to Kantian speculative philosophy. Maybe useful from a historical perspective, but not really worth talking about in the Big Picture.

    For what it’s worth.......
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    You explicitly say, they have value only insofar as 'they make the individual feel good', but reject any sense in which they can be said to be truly good in their own right. Which is the exact meaning of ‘subjectivism’, isn't it?Wayfarer

    I've modified the relevant passage slightly to try to help clarify this:

    Even more important to note is that by claiming that morality does not transcend hedonism, I am not supporting egotism, or any form of subjectivism or relativism about morality. I am not saying that all that morally matters is what makes you feel good. I am very much in favor of altruism, inasmuch as that means that everybody is of moral importance, not just one's own self, and consequently of the possibility of objective, unbiased moral evaluations. I am only saying that the criterion for making such evaluations, the thing that you should care about for other people, like for yourself, is that they feel good and not bad, that they experience pleasure and not pain, enjoyment and not suffering; rather than, say, that they be made "spiritually pure" or some such, in some way that disregards whether they actually enjoy that or not.The Codex Quarentis: Against Transcendentalism

    Also, I notice in quoting you here that you included the word "individual" in your paraphrase, whereas I did not. That I think was the point of confusion: something's not good just because it feels good to one person, regardless of how everybody else feels. Everybody matters, but what about them matters is that they feel good and not bad.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    I've updated the structure of this essay to group the bits about what I'm not against immediately following the corresponding bits about what I am against, hoping that that will make it clearer exactly what position I am taking step by step, without people having to read through the entire essay before getting to the parts that disclaim things that might naively be inferred from the earlier claims.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    I am not supporting egotism, or any form of subjectivism or relativism about morality. I am not saying that all that morally matters is what makes you feel good.The Codex Quarentis: Against Transcendentalism

    You're writing from the perspective of ego - one ego amongst others - which is perfectly natural in an individualist culture. And the basic orientation of our culture is 'nihil ultra ego', nothing beyond self. So that is a constraint, because you have articulate 'your' good against 'someone else's' good, the only criteria being 'what makes you (us) feel good'. One man, one vote, but with no accounting for taste. So it's impossible to arrive at any criteria other than what you and I and other egos like, or what suits us. And having done that, we're living through the eyes of 'the many'.

    Hedonism, judging 'what is good and bad' against pleasure and pain, can't be any more than an organic response. Any creature feels that, and acts in accordance, but again, as humans, we're able to regulate our desires by principles beyond the organic. But you're simply appealing to the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, albeit transposed into a kind of averaging of 'what makes us feel good' across the greatest number. I get that, it is a version of 'being considerate', but it's not really authentic.

    Sorry for sounding harsh.

    As for what 'spiritually pure' means, that is a deep topic, and I'm not representing myself as one who is. But I think philosophically the highest good has to be conceived in universal terms.; if there is a real good, then it's something like Kant's principle of conceiving the correct course of action as being a universal law. That's a model of how I might act for the greatest good, but it can't necessarily be rationalised in terms of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. I might need to do what is required for the greater good, and it might be rather painful or inconvenient for me personally, but it is nevertheless a duty, it is what the situation requires. (That word, 'duty', is very close in meaning to the Sanskrit term, dharma, धर्म, which is at once what the individual is obliged to seek out and execute, and also the principle that 'holds together' the Universe; that is the literal meaning.) We are after all the product of an immense creative outpouring, the Universe given life and mind, and the realisation of the goal of philosophy ought to be commensurate with that. It has to be an exalted goal.

    The problem I see in your writing is not your problem in particular; it's our culture's problem, which is a culture that has generally lost sight of such exalted goals. That is not something that can be rationalised in terms of either individual will or the pursuit of pleasure, or I would like to think not, anyway. That, anyway, is in line with how I conceive of philosophy, which for me is a kind of Kantian Buddhism. As such, we are not going to agree in our meta-philosophical aims, but I hope at least our disagreement can be worthwhile.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    But you're simply appealing to the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, albeit transposed into a kind of averaging of 'what makes us feel good' across the greatest numberWayfarer

    I argue specifically against utilitarianism later. Utilitarianism does share hedonic altruism in common with my ethics, but they otherwise differ significantly.

    the highest good has to be conceived in universal terms.; if there is a real good, then it's something like Kant's principle of conceiving the correct course of action as being a universal lawWayfarer

    Yes, I agree. But the question at hand in this essay is, when you're figuring out what ought to be a universal law, what criteria are you using to judge that? I'm arguing that, like we appeal to our common empirical experiences to sort out what are the universal laws of reality, we must likewise appeal to our common hedonic experiences to sort out what are the universal laws of morality. What we're trying to do with physical laws is come up with a descriptive model, a theory, that satisfies all of our empirical experiences. And what we're trying to do with ethical laws is come up with a prescriptive model, a strategy if you will, that satisfies all of our hedonic experiences. So that when you live according to such a theoretic model, you're not constantly saying things that seem false, either to yourself or to others, in your or their experience; and that when you live according to such a strategic model, you're not constantly doing things that seem bad, either to yourself or to others, in your or their experience.

    BTW, in your quote from the essay you reimplemented the italics on the wrong word, which makes me suspect you read the emphasis wrong in your head: it's "makes you feel good", not "makes you feel good". I'm disclaiming the individual subjectivity, not disclaiming the experientiality.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    I'm arguing that, like we appeal to our common empirical experiences to sort out what are the universal laws of reality,Pfhorrest

    [my shift key has stopped working.]

    but no. that's the least real aspect of experience. basically you're appealing to common sense. I value hedonic experiences like anyone else, but they're not an aim, otherwise you're basically capitulating to your somatic nature.

    when you're figuring out what ought to be a universal law, what criteria are you using to judge that?Pfhorrest

    that's where religious teachings come into it. quote from edward conze, buddhist scholar -

    The "perennial philosophy" is defined as a doctrine which holds [1] that as far as worthwhile knowledge is concerned not all men are equal, but that there is a hierarchy of persons, some of whom, through what they are, can know much more than others; [2] that there is a hierarchy also of the levels of reality, some of which are more "real," because more exalted than others; and [3] that the wise have found a wisdom which is true, even though it has no empirical basis in observations which can be made by everyone and everybody; and that in fact there is a rare and unordinary faculty in some by which insight into these truths are attained - through the Prajñāpāramitā of the Buddhists, the logos of Parmenides, the sophia of Aristotle, Spinoza's amor dei intellectualis, Hegel's Vernunft, and so on.

    to which end, we attempt to study and practice, we're aware of our own inner shortcomings and avidya/ignorance, although in today's culture, capitalism exploits every aspect of ignorance for profit, trapping us on the hedonic treadmill of modernity.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    It sounds like you’re agreeing that transcendentalism as I mean it, at least as regards morality, does demand fideism as I mean it (because you have to appeal to authorities, per your quote there). But earlier in the thread about fideism, you agreed with rejecting fideism as I mean it, and just argued that that’s not what “faith” is really about.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Based on feedback from these threads here, I have rearranged the first four essays of the Codex into a different order. This essay, Against Transcendentalism, is now the last essay of this series of four, because the first two are now Against Nihilism and Against Fideism, followed by Against Cynicism which is a followup to Against Nihilism, and then this one, which is a followup to Against Fideism. This is also in a way the most substantial of the four essays, in that rather than just establishing that there are answers to be found and not to take anyone's word for what they are yet to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, this one actually finally gives a direction as to where to look for those answers.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    One thing I could particularly use some feedback on is suggestions for a name for the unnamed moral analogue of supernaturalism discussed in this essay. For the whole moral side of transcendentalism-as-I-mean-it, I say
    what we might call "transcendental moralism", in contrast to what I would call "hedonic moralism"
    and for the aspect of that that's
    about considering things like wealth, survival, and reproduction as the things of ultimate value, the highest of goods, irrespective of the pleasure or pain brought about in the pursuit of them
    I can easily just say "materialism" in a moral or prescriptive sense, but for the things that are more "spiritual", like to do with ritual purity and such, all I have to say on naming it is
    The moral equivalent of supernaturalism, for which I lack a clear name, is to claim that something is good or bad regardless of how it makes anybody feel, hedonistically; regardless of the pleasure or pain that it causes. It is, loosely speaking, the supposition that there is such a thing as a victimless moral crime: something that hurts nobody, but is nevertheless morally wrong

    Can anyone thing of a good, especially an already-common, name for this kind of "supernatural"/anti-hedonic kind of moral viewpoint?
  • 180 Proof
    1.5k
    Moral non-naturalism.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Thanks, but that's not quite what I'm going for, because the view that I support is not a moral naturalist point of view, inasmuch as it's a non-descriptivist point of view, and naturalism is descriptivist. That's why I'm putting "supernatural" in scare quotes, because it's not actually supernatural what I'm trying to name, but more the moral analogue of supernatural: "empirical" is to "supernatural" as "hedonic" is to "________".
  • 180 Proof
    1.5k
    Moral non-naturalism is neither naturalistic nor descriptivist.

    "empirical" is to "supernatural" as "hedonic" is to "________".Pfhorrest
    ... "deontic".
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