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Philosophy

Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.

First comes fodder, then comes morality. That's a Brecht quote, and one whose obvious truth and lucid simplicity probably encapsulates more “philosophy” than most books about the subject… especially those written by professional philosophers in the last hundred years or so. (If you inferred from this that I think not very highly of last century's crop of philosophers you'd be right. There are a few exceptions (Popper, to name but one) but in general they are an awfully conceited bunch. Not deriding Derrida (to name but one of these gasbags) is just not possible.)

One problem among many with presenting philosophical ideas (one's own or those of others) is that such an endeavour is extremely prone to misunderstandings. I always found talking about this subject much easier than writing about it. All the more so since some of my ideas are very strange indeed. For starters, I don't believe there's such a thing as free will. For most people, it seems obvious that they do have free will and partly I agree: in my every-day, common-sense life I normally proceed as if I believe in free will too. Then again, in my every-day, common-sense life I also proceed as if I believed that I will never die… which, Hume notwitstanding, at some point will turn out to be wrong. (And there are many similar discrepancies between my every-day life and my philosophical convictions: but think about this amazing fact and it should become clear why this has to be so.)

But is there really (reality bites again) something we could call free will? I don't think so. I think free will is a nearly perfect illusion, an evolutionary necessity without which we could not exist, literally would not exist — but nothing more.

I also think that time is an illusion. If you now lean back in your armchair with a wry smile and say, Ah, the guy's a Kantian… yes, in a sense, I am. But there's more to it than that. Much more.

Or take the anthropocentric view most people take: their world and their views revolve around the way humans see, hear, taste the world. Fair enough. However, what and how we perceive, what we are and how we think is just a tiny speck in a much bigger picture. Again, I am often anthropocentric myself: our so-called common-sense view of the world is a very clinging bed-fellow. But common sense is one of the biggest flies in the philosophical ointment. That's not to say that common sense is always wrong: it sure has its place… but trusting one's common sense in philosophical matters usually lands one in a very fine muddle.

But how to put all that in words? And how to present those words on a web page? Tall order, given that statistically people stay for something like 54 seconds on a web page (folks, I am not making this number up: I have my server logs to prove it)… well, I am working on it:-)

Language and its use pose other interesting riddles. For example, how much does one's language influence one's thinking?

Or the question of Death and God

I will try to do more on these questions… but, alas, there are so many interesting things to do and so much stuff to be explored: where to start?


$updated from: Philosophy.htxt Sat 18 Jan 2014 13:14:24 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$