Professional Philosophers Are Sellouts
Those of you who have attended philosophy classes have been told that you can't know anything until you first know something else. If you try to find out what is the first thing to be known, you will be told that there are several theories on it. Unfortunately you don't know which, if any, of the theories is true, because that would require you to already know what you are trying to know. I admit that some philosophers have said helpful things, but those things are few and far between. Most philosophers appear to think that the best philosophy is the one the one that has it copouts hidden under the most crap. I have concluded that it is a far better expenditure of time to figure things out by discussing them with friends than to read philosophy books or attend classes.
One might think that a discussion of epistemology would begin by defining the term. Not necessarily. This discussion begins with assumption. I am assuming that we all know what epistemology is, and what knowledge is, and that we all know that we know stuff. I am doing this to illustrate the point that knowledge itself does not begin with definition. It begins with assumption, and continues with assumption until the assumer realizes that he doesn't really know what he assumes, and then falls back on definition.
In the epistemological beginning, God created assumption. He plugged a pattern of neuron firings into a center of intentionality, and the first created mind knew something. It wasn't much, but after it collected a bunch of these patterns, it started noticing that some of them fit together and created a new level of patterns. And that's where Stanley Kubrick's proto-human threw a bone up in the air, and it came down a space ship.
My first epistemological step was to assume and also know that I exist, perceive, emote, think, and will. Of course someone will ask how I know those things. I don't know how I know them. But the fact that I don't know how I know them does not diminish the fact that I know them. Some will claim that I can't rightly claim to know anything unless I first have a coherent theory of what knowledge is. I say, how do you know that? Produce such a theory or shut the hell up. And they will produce theories, but they're all full of holes. And they try to cover up the holes by adding levels of complexity and unfamiliar references, which only serve to obscure the issue. The implication being that if you haven't read what they've read, they at least know more than you do. Thus they try to force you to either enter the game and become one of them, or admit defeat. I choose a third option. I choose to expose their game for the polemic sophistry that it is, and keep the conversation on layman's level. I choose this because reality is most easily understood by describing it with the lowest sufficient vocabulary.
My second epistemological step was to assume that something other than me existed. This step was caused by my first recognizable sensory experience. I don't remember my first sensory experience, but I know what I thought about it. I thought, "What was that?" This was of course pre-verbal, but it was nonetheless that thought. I knew that I experienced something, and I knew that I didn't willfully cause it. Therefore I knew that something other than me existed and caused things. That experience generated my first worldview.
And I assumed that I knew my worldview was correct just as surely as I knew the former things. I was wrong about that, but that error was probably beneficial to my development. If I hadn't made that error, I might have wasted a lot of time pondering the reliability of my sense experience instead of learning to navigate the outside world.
My third epistemological step was the realization that logical consistency exists to at least some degree.
|If you are wondering how I know all this, I took careful notes, which are currently locked in a vault in Switzerland.|
My fourth epistemological step was the realization that one of my assumptions was an error. Doesn't matter which one. What matters is that the process which I had assumed to be a continuing increase in my knowledge base was interrupted by the necessity of revision.
This was my first change of worldview and first operating system upgrade. It insured that all subsequent upgrades would contain a revisability algorithm. But this, as many of you know, can be overwritten by faith in a claimed ultimate worldview.